Wednesday, 15 September 2010


This is the last post on this blog. From now on I'll be concentrating my fire on my Twitter page - less depth admittedly but less time-consuming as well. Please follow me at and I also blog on the Isle of Man TT and Manx GP at

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Thursday, 8 July 2010


World Cup media highlights:
Oliver Holt's feature in the Daily Mirror describing taking two lads from Soweto to a World Cup game.
Nicky Campbell's interview on 5 Live with a veteran ANC freedom fighter. The man couldn't stomach the mildest questioning about the South African president Jacob Zuma and walked out.
Mark Lawrenson's TV report on the original Spion Kop.
ITV's World Cup 'Sing Africa' theme.
Graham Taylor - turned out to be the top pundit of the tournament on both 5 Live and his Daily Express column.
Michael Calvin - the shrewdest writer at the World Cup, much to the benefit of his Sunday Mirror readers.

Biggest irrelevance (after England, France and Italy) was the BBC's costly studio. In this age when virtual pictures can be called up from anywhere at any time, the physical location of a big-event studio surely doesn't depend on the view any more. Last night we had Lineker, Hansen and co sitting outside an empty stadium in Cape Tpwn while the action took place a few hundred miles away in Durban!

Monday, 28 June 2010


I'm not joining the mob screaming for Capello to be fired. Not yet. It is only right that the FA should give themselves two weeks to reflect on the situation. What is key is whether, in that two weeks, Fabio shows he has learned anything. If he doesn't, then fine - time to order the horse's head. But if he shows that he has taken on board lessons from South Africa then the FA would be daft to dismiss him. We'll never get anywhere by throwing coaches overboard every two years. Capello has never had a group of international players away at a tournament before. Now he has, and he knows what to expect next time. That experience will be priceless and the FA must look for evidence that Fabio has taken it on board before making any decision.

Sunday, 27 June 2010


I know today was a disappointing day for English football but that doesn't excuse BBC 5 Live ignoring a superb performance by the England cricket team in their 6.30pm sports news. The bulletin started with the result of the European Grand Prix - a few hours' old by then, and then a recap on the football result. The cricketers' win over Australia at Old Trafrford which clinched the one-day series didn't get a mention - despite being the most recent item of sports news. If my sports journalism students had produced such a flabby effort I would have been shocked.

Couldn't have had anything to do with Sky having TV rights to the cricket while the Beeb were showing the football, could it?

Sunday, 9 May 2010


There are few sights in sport more rewarding than a three-pointer dropping cleanly through the hoop. We're talking basketball here, and the long shots that hit the mark came from the deft fingers of Trey Moore and James Jones as Everton Tigers pulled off one of the sporting achievements of the year to win the British Basketball Championship final last night.
Persuading that ball to pass through the hoop for two points is tough enough from close quarters, but when a player takes the gamble and goes for three from further out it is a sweet sensation.
And just as sweet that Everton Tigers should win a title when logic said they had no right even to be there. The Tigers were hit by significant financial problems back in September. So massive credit is due not just to the players and their coach Tony Garbelotto but also to the club's general manager John Cooper and backer Martyn Best of Liverpool PR firm Paver Smith.
I was watching from the heart of the Tigers support at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham as Everton trampled all over their underdog status and gave opponents Glasgow Rocks a similar hammering. As an object lesson in taking a game by the scruff of the neck this could not be bettered. With Garbelotto prowling the sidelines like a demented tarantula they were up 23-9 after the first quarter and 45-28 at half-time. Then the Rocks rolled back to wipe out the deficit and, early in the final quarter, take the lead. Momentum now with the Scots and their kilted followers? No way. The Tigers dug deep for one last time, Moore sank another three-pointer and it was all over.
Back in the 1980s James Jones's dad Jeff was a quality performer with a previous incarnation of basketball on Merseyside. The then Liverpool Basketball Club, brainchild of a sports scientist Vaughan Thomas and an incorrigible optimist Colin Bentley, created a real buzz. It didn't last and it would be naive to assume that yesterday's result in Birmingham will guarantee the new team eternal life either. But sport is about seizing the day, and this day, this season, belongs to the Everton Tigers.

Thursday, 6 May 2010


It’s polling day in the UK but for some of us the vote that really matters has already been announced.

At one minute past midnight the news was officially released that Chester FC’s supporters organisation, City Fans United, has been awarded the lease of the Deva Stadium by the owners, Cheshire West and Chester Council.

This was not a “gimme.” There was a rival bid from a Danish consortium who had useful support from Jan Molby and Mark Wright. But the council has taken what I believe to be completely the correct option.

Had the Danes succeeded there was a real risk that football would disappear from Chester for ever. Supporters and the public at large have been so enthused by the CFU campaign that it is doubtful that many would have rolled up to see matches staged by a set-up parachuted in from abroad.

The fans can take massive credit. Last August they were angry, disillusioned, and most significantly isolated. Antagonised, then alienated, then scorned by the ill-fated Vaughan regime they felt helpless. But they got together. They held meetings and people turned up in droves. They looked at a future without the great game and didn’t like it. They discovered a real appetite to keep professional football alive.

Clever, sensible, articulate people emerged to lead and organise. Suddenly, things were happening. Lines of communication with the public were established. Money was raised. Outings for kids were organised. All good, positive developments the like of which the dying regime could never have emulated.

Most important of all, a credible business plan was formulated which has convinced the council that the fans are the correct custodians for the future.

Comparing the situation today with that of a year ago, this is a dramatic and astonishing victory for football supporters.

I congratulate CFU and wish them every success. They don’t need me to tell them that the hard work is only just starting. But in the best football tradition, they should take each day as it comes and that means enjoying today to the full, a great day to be a football fan.

Sunday, 2 May 2010


Sport is all over the front page of the News of the World today. The paper’s legendary investigator Mazher Mahmood has world snooker champion John Higgins in the dock over allegations of match fixing.
According to Mahmood, whose previous victims include Sven Goran Eriksson, Higgins and his agent Pat Mooney were suckered by a typical NOTW scam and ended up agreeing to lose certain frames in certain matches in the future. This would enable a betting syndicate to clean up.
If true, the claims would be a severe blow for snooker. In fact even before the investigation has started the sport has been damaged. On the day when the World Snooker Final began, everyone was talking about foul play and not the match.
No doubt many will be as angry with the journalists as they are with Higgins. Messengers still tend to be shot. Especially when the paper has not actually uncovered any corruption which has already taken place, but instead set a trap and lured the snooker men into it.
So a lot hangs on the proof. Higgins claims his conscience is clear, Mahmood parades evidence from filmed conversations.
The outcome will be fascinating and if the NOTW has indeed flushed out a corrupt champion then that is a good result for journalism. Either way, it does the sporting world no harm to know that Mahmood and his ilk are out there. Which sportsman, when offered a bribe in the future, will be able to avoid the sneaking suspicion that he might just be on the end of a NOTW scam, and decide that the best policy is to stay on the straight and narrow?