By Stewart Weir
Helpful for Scotland qualification Picture: alexvc26
Scotland’s Ricky Burns beats Michael Katsidis on points to win the WBO interim lightweight title, his first contest at that weight.
It was a disciplined performance from the Lanarkshire fighter – featured in Weir’s Week previously, not so much for his pugilistic skills but for his artistry. Body art this is, tattoos in other words.
I’m sure he still has space for another couple. However, while he outdid Katsidis on points, the Australian probably won when it came to ink, appearing to have a massive sundial etched on his back. Impressive.
No point in Burns trying for the same. Compared to Queensland, there isn’t much sun in Coatbridge…
Saturday’s loss at home to Dunfermline Athletic is all too much for the Easter Road board, who bid farewell to manager Colin Calderwood after just 13 months in the job.
Calderwood had replaced John Hughes, who had replaced Mixu Paatelainen, who had replaced John Collins, who had replaced Tony Mowbray, who had replaced Bobby Williamson, who left in April 2004.
Six managers in seven-and-a-bit years. But by Tuesday, chairman Rod Petrie will claim to have received over 40 applications for the vacancy.
Two things stick out there. If none of the above lasted very long in Leith, why do Hibs think they’ll find better this time around?
And secondly, Petrie didn’t go into specifics about who had applied. I mean, 40 applications is different from 40 applicants. Could there be one man who has sent his CV in two-dozen times? Is anyone that desperate?
Apart from Rod Petrie…
And the SFA’s performance director Mark Wotte has plenty to say about the state of the Scottish game and where it might be headed.
“You have to set your goals high. How can Uruguay be world no.4 and Scotland not?
“It would be crazy to say Scotland will reach no.4 in the rankings, but you have to believe that you can change things.”
And he’s right. But in the past umpteen years we’ve heard a lot from Dutchmen and how they might change the world, or at least Scotland.
Back in 1995, Rinus Michels was part of Ernie Walker’s SFA “Think Tank” before it sprung a leak. Dick Advocaat was introduced by Rangers in 1998 and will be best remembered, not for unearthing fantastic talent, but for spending fortunes to deliver domestic success.
Now Wotte, the former Southampton manager, is planning great things for Scotland youth.
Fundamental to his performance strategy is the appointment of seven regional performance coaches to work out of appointed schools that will house the most talented kids in the region. He expects that, by 2020, this will have provided six or seven players to the senior squad.
I’m a Dutchmen if it does – but then we all might be…
Just a matter of days after the world found out about his illness, former world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier succumbs to liver cancer.
His passing brought back memories of the halcyon days of the early 1970s, when Frazier formed an historic triumvirate in the heavyweight division, alongside Mohammed Ali and George Foreman.
In many people’s eyes, Frazier was an imposter, merely keeping the world-title belts warm for Ali who had been out of commission, banned by the boxing authorities for refusing to go to Vietnam.
However in March 1971, Frazier hammered the unbeaten Ali – and so, instantaneously, became one of the most famous faces on the planet.
Not just in sport. Up there with the US president, Her Majesty the Queen, and Robert Redford. For that was the standing of the world heavyweight champion at that time.
I had a good chat on-air in the wee sma’ hours with talkSport’s Mike Graham. And what was apparent to both of us was that, despite the moving tributes written and broadcast, so many of those penning or airing those words weren’t around when Frazier and Ali were at their collective peak, and so really had no idea just how big they were, as celebrities, as personalities and as icons.
Maybe that also had something to do with the fact that there were only two versions of the title and there was only one champion – and that everyone had the opportunity to see them in action, albeit on the BBC the following night when most knew the outcome.
A far change from nowadays, where there are so many different divisions of the same weight division, with the action entirely divided up amongst various satellite and pay-for-view networks. Will the current title holders be mourned the same way. I very much doubt it.
A few hours after airing my views on boxing with Mike Graham, I’m back on the airwaves, this time on BBC Radio Scotland with Kaye Adams debating the Scotland national team being full of non-Scots.
Jordan Rhodes, son of former Dunfermline goalie Andy, is the latest Englishman to be “Jockified”, in his case under the “schooling” rule to join the likes of Matt Gilks, Phil Bardsley, James Morrison, Jamie Mackie and Craig Mackail-Smith as adopted Scots, qualifying under various criteria from parents, grandparents, schooling, a liking for Tunnock’s caramel wafers, or owning a West Highland terrier.
Me, I don’t have an issue with it. Scotland might as well play to the same rules and regulations as everyone else. Why handicap yourself by only playing “true-born” Scots, when some “true-born Scots” want to play for other countries, like the Republic of Ireland for instance?
What I do take exception to are those who have played under-21 football elsewhere, then use Scotland as a flag of convenience to become full internationalists. That, pulling on one jersey and then swapping it for another, I just cannot work out, other than believing such folk are just completely mercenary.
All of which reminded me of an evening watching Champions League highlights several years ago, during which I was bemoaning the lack of Scots participating.
“There’s one,” said the better half.
Asked where exactly, she pointed out “them with the Scottish names” – Benni McCarthy from South Africa and Roy Maakay, a Dutchman. And, at their best, I would have happily taken either as honorary Scotsmen…
Snooker supremo Barry Hearn gives an interesting interview to the Yorkshire Post where he admits to blackmailing players
Hearn has been under fire from the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, with the former world champion critical of the tactics employed by Hearn to get leading players to play in lesser Players Tour Championship events.
“I made them ranking events to actually force the players into playing,” admitted Hearn.
“Ronnie is quite right that it is a form of blackmail, and I put my hands up and plead guilty. When I don’t do that blackmail, like at a recent invitational event in Brazil, nine out of the top 16 didn’t travel because they probably thought it was a long way to go.
“I should have made it a ranking event and that would have justified Ronnie’s case.”
If Barry is pleading guilty to blackmail, could this start a trend amongst other managers and promoters who might want to admit to charges of neglect, deception, embezzlement, gross mismanagement and the likes?
I’m sure there are several players who could offer up names and suspects…
The eleventh of the eleventh is a poignant day for many, when those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country are remembered.
This week, international associations and players from the Home Nations demanded the right to wear poppies on their shirts. After the intervention of various people, including Prince William, FIFA relented and will allow poppies to be worn on armbands.
FIFA had deemed that the poppy symbol contravened their law on political and/or religious messages on shirts.
However, the poppy is not political, and neither is it religious, although some would argue against both of those truths. It is simply a mark of respect.
FIFA just didn’t get that, and probably still don’t. But then given how that organisation is run, who runs it, and what they’ve managed to miss in recent times, we shouldn’t be surprised they didn’t understand something as simple as paying one’s respect to those who died for their county.
– Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments, @sweirz
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