The Africa Cup of Nations kicks-off in South Africa accompanied by the usual fanfare of vuvuzelas, sufficiently loud and annoying for many a journalist to make a justified claim for industrial deafness. We can’t complain too much of course, thankful that there is a tournament at all given that the event had been awarded to Libya before their internal strife.
ITV4 made plenty of the fact they would be covering the tournament, a series of slick adverts and trailers whetting the appetite to see many of Europe’s, and the English Premier League’s finest, wearing different kit.
In what is extensively a tinder-dry continent, there were opening day pyrotechnics. Hosts South Africa drew 0-0 with Cape Verde Islands (obviously still traumatised at having been overtaken in the FIFA World Rankings by Scotland), with Angola and Morocco also drawing a blank.
Whether it was teams being cancelled out tactically, or a fear of national pride being damaged, this wasn’t the start the Africa Cup of Nations wanted.
Still, it would only take a day of so for some individuals to make their mark, none more so than Jemal Tassew, the Ethiopian goalkeeper. Herald ‘Toni’ Schumacher would have been proud of you son.
There is barely a play passes in the NFL without some statistical fact being thrown up to the extent you wonder if this sport was invented for cowards who couldn’t play rugby or mathematicians.
Sorry, that’s a cheap shot. I greatly admire the greats of gridiron, of which there are many, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being one of them. On Sunday night, he and his team looked to be headed back to the Superbowl. Leading 13-7 against Baltimore Ravens, Brady had never lost from that position with the Patriots — he was 67-0 in such situations. But if records are made to be broken so stats are there to be trashed. The Ravens’ ‘bouncebackability’ saw them score 21 unanswered points, and set up a meeting with the San Francisco 49ers in XLVIII.
Leaving the Patriots, and Brady, disappointed and him 67-1 when leading at half-time. I bet he remembers that one more than the other 67 combined …
Remember the good old days when a mobile phone was just for making calls? Now with cameras, voice recorders and more, they are handheld media hubs. Still, they do have a tendency to ring when not on the right setting, and you never know who then might pick them up.
You might have seen this – but I think Michael Grant of The Herald is deserving of 1,000,000 YouTube views. After all these years in newspaper journalism, who’d have thought his biggest audience would be online …
It’s the morning after Willie Limond took just 116-second to hammer Eddie Doyle to win the vacant Commonwealth light-welterweight title in Glasgow, a fitting performance to mark the St Andrew’s Sporting Club’s 40th anniversary.
That was the start time back in November, 1980 when Jim Watt – who opened the St Andrew’s with a British title contest against fellow Scot and former world champion Ken Buchanan – made his own defence of the world crown against the American Sean ‘The Bubblegum Kid’ O’Grady.
I reminisced on Twitter with one or two about that night/day, because 12 hours later there was an Old Firm game in Glasgow, Rangers beating Celtic 3-0 with Colin McAdam scoring twice. Like a different world. I also promised to expand on a tale from that day, November 1st.
A sadly departed friend of mine, Tom Kennedy, or better known around Wishaw and parts as ‘The Blooter’ had attended the fancy dress Halloween Party at a local club, the plan being to get changed, then head into the Kelvin Hall for the Watt fight. Things didn’t go plan, so Tam and his mate jumped into a taxi and headed for the toon, Blooter dressed as a US cavalry officer, his mate ‘Curwood’ as an Apache Indian. Needless to say, once at the Kelvin Hall their regalia caused much hilarity, but completely endeared them to O’Grady’s sister in the crowd who they were sitting near.
She just loved how these guys had come dressed up to support the American challenger, and better still, “it’s great you guys are Irish.” Of course, they were not. But as their South Lanarkshire accents had become even broader when mixed with vodka and coke, it was an easy mistake to make.
Things were progressing beautifully (even amorously) with Scots-Irish-American relations until the 10th round when a clash of heads split O’Grady from nose to hairline. The cry of instruction from Blooter to the Scots champion, to “knock the Yanks head off” soured the blossoming romance between the Indian chief and O’Grady’s now manic sister. With O’Grady’s face masked in blood, the ref stopped the contest. Now even offers of a peace pipe, a powwow and a chance to visit the 2-bedroom wigwam in Netherton could win the sister around.
A liquid breakfast was sources and Blooter and Curwood made plans to head back home, change, and then head to Ibrox. But you know how it is. A roll and sausage and seven vodkas knocked their timings out, so they headed to Govan, still dressed like something out of She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.
Eventually, they did head home, having attended two major sporting events, dressed up as extras from the Wild West – only to be denied access to their local hostelry, not because they were inebriated, but because ‘you look effing stupid.’
Indeed. They have high standards in Wishaw …
There are many things these days that qualify for the ‘only in Britain’ label. And the decision to make Toni Minichiello redundant from his full-time job with UK Athletics has to be one of them. For the uninitiated, Minichiello was named UK Coach of the Year in 2012 after guiding Jessica Ennis to heptathlon gold at the London Olympics.
Minichiello is a victim of the controversial overhaul of UK Athletics’ high-performance programme, which now centres around Loughborough. He won’t move Ennis, or himself from their Sheffield base, and as he coaches just one medallist – who happens to be the poster girl of British sport – Minichiello falls outside the funding criteria.
Only the bureaucrats of sport can believe they have got their new vision and view right for the future, despite having got it so wrong in the past. Only in Britain …
I make a guest appearance alongside Clyde boss Jim Duffy on STV’s Scotland Tonight, talking about ‘Ballboy-gate.’ You can always measure the size and importance of a story on whether or not it becomes a ‘Gate.’
Opinion, in football and amongst the public, is split right down the middle on this one. For me Eden Hazard will always be wrong for kicking Charlie Morgan, the 17-year-old ballboy, though his premeditated time wasting stunt exposed him as a less-than innocent party. Charlie does come across as the kind of kid who will revel in now having more than 100,000 followers on Twitter.
And as the kind of kid who will be oblivious to how many of those might be Chelsea fans. Enjoy the stardom …
Andy Murray faces Roger Federer in the semi-finals at the Australian Open, and beats him to set up a final against Novak Djokovic.
A year ago, reaching the final was a significant achievement for the Scot. It still is. But to now hear the phrase ‘back-to-back majors’ alongside his name is a measure of where he is in the sporting world.
Here’s hoping …