The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Oh my word – my heart – she cannae take any more captain!

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So. This evening I was out on the radio so I was unable to sit here and watch the Hampshire v Lancashire T20 Quarter-Final but I was full of confidence. I kept away from the interweb including twitter, Facebook et al as I didn’t want to know the result. I did see a tweet early in proceedings so I knew Hampshire were batting first and James Vince had batted really well but apart from that I knew naff all.

So I sit down to watch the game when I get in and oh my word. Talk about going through the wringer. Had I been watching it live I know exactly what I’d have been like. I’d have been pacing up and down and cursing as Lancashire stayed in touch with the Royals.

Hampshire had batted marvelously and put on 202 and in a way that might have been a disappointing score as the home side could easily have scored 15-20 more. James Vince and Michael Carberry were just electric at the top of the innings with Vince who frustrates me more than any other Hampshire player breaking out getting 60 off 30 balls and then getting out to a waist high full toss that he probably should have deposited for six wherever he liked. The reason Vince frustrates me is because I know how talented he is. He has all the shots and power and always gets in and then gets out to a sloppy shot for 20 odd but tonight he out-paced Carberry to get the Royals off to a flyer.

Speaking of Michael Carberry that man has to be in the England T20 squad and pretty much has to open. He is just so destructive and has been in great nick all summer long. In all honesty the IPL should come calling and next spring he should be in the sub-continent plying his trade. He scored an unbeaten century with an inside edge scramble for two off the last ball of the innings. It was magnificent from Hampshire but 202 might actually have been short considering we only got 23 off the last 20 deliveries.

Lancashire though hadn’t read the script. Dimitri Mascarenhas was expensive which isn’t exactly the norm and the away side kept up with the mammoth run rate needed. Two wickets in two balls from Danny Briggs looked set to call a halt to any hopes of a Lancashire win but they just wouldn’t go away. Chris Wood bowled a fantastic four balls in the penultimate over but then a ramp four and a big six meant Lancs needed 17 off the final over and when Sohail Tanvir bowled a dumb waist high no ball with the first delivery of the last over that meant 14 off six needed and that was very much in play.

In the end it came down to the final ball and I was pacing up and down my living room ready to curse but Tanvir just about came through as a low full toss was only straight driven down the ground for two and the defending champions squeaked home. I have said all summer long that Hampshire are the best team in this competition but tonight for the first time I saw the bowlers struggle but somehow we just got there and have made it two south group teams already at Finals Day with Essex still to play tonight.

I am not a huge fan of international ODI and T20 cricket but I think the domestic T20 tournament is fantastic for the game. Little things made the difference tonight. James Vince made a quite insane save of a boundary and Jimmy Adams drove a ball straight into the umpire that would have been four. Such small margins but my plans for Saturday week seem more solid than they were. I still think Hampshire should be regarded as favourites for the competition and this close run thing should help.

The Royals know how to win games and winning is a great habit. The other great thing on show tonight was a terrific spectacle and a huge amount of entertainment. A belter of a wicket led to a belter of a game and whilst the game has probably led to more colours of shall we say a lighter shade appearing on my head, I think it is fair to say any naturals watching will have been well and truly entertained and isn’t that the point of sport? We all love winning and don’t love losing but we all love is to be entertained and tonight both Hampshire and Lancashire helped by a stunning pitch delivered a quality nights entertainment.

Having said all that though. Thank fuck we won.

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August 8th, 2013 at 1:09 am

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The ‘casual sexism’ of Andy Murray’s win stopping 77 years of hurt.

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My blood people. My blood. You have endangered that blood by trying to make it boil. All afternoon and evening last night and now this morning. I need a hot tub to relax in (well ok I just want a hot tub and think that this would be the perfect excuse) but what has got my blood boiling you ask? The faux sexism regarding Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon yesterday.

You see it has been 77 years since a British man has held aloft the Wimbledon Men’s Singles trophy. The thing is though instead of enjoying that triumph people are looking for every way to attack and use this victory to make their point. Twitter was full of ‘Don’t you remember Virginia Wade’ such quotes yesterday as she was the last woman to hold aloft the Wimbledon Women’s Singles trophy to have hailed from the British Isles and she did so in 1977, which as basic mathematicians will tell you is more recent than 1936.

Now that is a fine point but if we are looking at all British victories at Wimbledon in the main events (singles and doubles for both men and women as well as mixed) then of course it was only last year when Jonathan Marray held aloft a Wimbledon trophy having won the Men’s Doubles. In 2007 Andy’s own brother lifted the Mixed Doubles trophy and if you really want to be pedantic and say that they had help from non-British partners then go back to 1987 when Jo Durie and Jeremy Bates were British winners of the Mixed Doubles at SW19.

Stephen Tall today blogged about the headline in The Times today which was ‘Murray ends 77-year wait for British win’ and exclaims As if it would have killed the headline writer to say 36 years (accurate) instead of 77 (inaccurate). Well Stephen as you well know 36 is not accurate. It cannot be accurate. The only accurate responses are either one year or 77. At no point does the headline writer refer to singles play so it either has to be one (the last British winner of any sort) or 77 (the last Men’s winner) you can’t just decide that singles play was intimated because it fits your point.

See this is the type of thing I have seen for the majority of the past 24 hours. People manipulate things to fit their own agenda or point. Facts get thrown out of the window and accuracy that people are pleading for is something they have missed entirely. Now if anyone – whether face to face or in the media – says that Andy Murray’s win ended 77 of singles hurt at Wimbledon for British players then that would be inaccurate and sexist. If they say that Andy Murray’s win ended British hurt at Wimbledon then either they mean the Men’s singles or instead of being sexist they just don’t know about Jonathan Marray, Jamie Murray, Jo Durie, Jeremy Bates, Virginia Wade etc.

The thing is folks I have yet to see any commentator, yet to see any media outlet, yet to speak to anyone – let me repeat that – anyone – who has said that Andy Murray’s win ended 77 of singles hurt at Wimbledon for British players. Not one. They have either just said hurt at Wimbledon or hurt in the Men’s singles at Wimbledon. So either they are correct or they don’t care about all other events about from the Men’s singles including Men’s doubles and male participants in the Mixed doubles.

However why let facts get in the way of faux outrage. This is why sexism kills me. People will see sexism in everything. I know people who think holding a door open for a woman is sexist. I know of people who don’t. I know of people who thought it was sexist that the Men’s marathon awards ceremony at the Olympics was during the Closing Ceremony. They thought women should have just as much right to the final awards ceremony as men. So do these people think that the Women’s Wimbledon Final should be played on the same day as the Men? Should they be played at the same time and given equal billing? If they are played on the same day and the Women’s final is first then is it sexist and demeaning and making the Men out to be more important? At Wimbledon women are asked to play back-to-back days (Monday/Tuesday of the second week) whereas men aren’t. Some say that is sexist.

I could go on and on but if you are to plead sexism – and we all depressingly know that there is more than enough sexism to go around – but if you are to see sexism then actually find something sexist to be mad at. Don’t manipulate a story to fit your agenda. As for Stephen’s take on would it kill the headline writer to say 36 years which would’ve been accurate. If Stephen can point out in the headline where it says ‘singles’ then I’ll grant him that it is casual sexism. However he won’t be able to so it cannot be sexist. Either it is ignoring all men and women who have won Wimbledon trophies since 1936 or it is talking about the Men’s Singles. It cannot be anything else.

Who cares about facts anyway. Outrage people. Outrage!

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July 8th, 2013 at 9:57 am

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BBC drop Monaco GP to pick up Canadian GP – Full BBC/Sky F1 Coverage for 2013

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The BBC and Sky have started to make announcements about their coverage of Formula 1 for the 2013 season. Sky basically have announced that it is very much status quo. David Croft & Martin Brundle remain as the voice and face of the sport as expected. Simon Lazenby keeps his spot as presenter despite criticism. Damon Hill and Antony Davidson remain and Johnny Herbert returns to the channel after joining early in 2012 and becoming a firm favourite. Georgie Thompson stays as well and Ted Kravitz leads the pit team with Natalie Pinkham getting drivers interviews. So as expected Sky very much have kept with its team from 2012 with only Herbert added to the opening race team and he had become a mainstay since early in 2012.

Over at the BBC though decisions had to be made as Jake Humphrey quit the BBC to become the face of Football on BT Vision. Well they’ve made their first decision as surprisingly Suzi Perry has replaced him as the anchor. Most thought Lee McKensie would be promoted but they’ve gone for Suzi Perry – who has worked on Moto GP for the channel although she quit that role in part because of the excess travel involved – so coming back to do F1 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but of course presenting Moto GP and F1 is two very different things – with two very different salaries.

No word yet from the BBC on whether Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard will be returning but with Sky having named their line-up there doesn’t seem to be room for them unless they went to a three-man booth and personally I wouldn’t like to see that.

The other thing we now know is which channel will be showing which races. The full calendar is below:

17 March Australian Grand Prix – Sky
24 March Malaysian Grand Prix – Sky
14 April Chinese Grand Prix – BBC/Sky
21 April Bahrain Grand Prix – Sky
12 May Spanish Grand Prix – BBC/Sky
26 May Monaco Grand Prix – Sky
09 June Canadian Grand Prix – BBC/Sky
30 June British Grand Prix – BBC/Sky
7 July German Grand Prix = Sky
21 July ‘A.N. Other European Grand Prix – BBC/Sky
28 July Hungarian Grand Prix – Sky
25 August Belgian Grand Prix – BBC/Sky
08 September Italian Grand Prix – BBC/Sky
22 September Singapore Grand Prix – Sky
06 October Korean Grand Prix – Sky
13 October Japanese Grand Prix – BBC/Sky
27 October Indian Grand Prix – BBC/Sky
03 November Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Sky
17 November United States Grand Prix – Sky
24 November Brazilian Grand Prix – BBC/Sky

The biggest difference is that the BBC have used their first three picks on Britain and Brazil again but Monaco has gone with Canada having gone to the Beeb. An interesting choice as the Canadian Grand Prix has long been one of the very best and is held in prime-time. The Italian GP also goes to the BBC this time around (guessing Australia, USA, Monaco were Sky’s first three picks) but overall you’d probably say that the BBC are getting a better quality of race this time around.

The July 21 race is expected to be either Turkey or possibly a return of either the Austrian or French Grand Prix. I’d love to see the Austrian race return as I think the A1 Ring brought us a few really good races as the track as several really good overtaking opportunities. This race has been added to the calendar because the second race in the United States (New Jersey) has been postponed until 2014.

Last year was a thriller for Formula 1 fans and if next year can be as good then we’ll be in for a fantastic year of Motorsport. Whether you watch on the Beeb or on Sky the coverage should be some of the very best in the world.

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December 22nd, 2012 at 5:41 pm

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Picking my Test Match XI of my generation

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Last night (well in the early hours of today) whilst watching Australia v South Africa in the second test from Adelaide I was laying in bed and trying to work out my Test team of my lifetime and decided to blog about it so here we are.

I am only including players I saw who were at the height of their game in my watching life. This means that players like Botham and Marshall – two players who would certainly be in the mix are not going to be considered. Also this is not a ‘best team of my generation’ but more a team that I’d put out if I had to win a Test match. Also for the basis of this team I’m saying the Test is not on the sub-continent so only one spinner will play.

So we start with my openers and one is easy – Graeme Smith. Smith I think is a class act both in mind and skill. He averages a tick under 50 as a Test Match opener and has that gumption about him. His opening partner was more tricky. I love Chris Gayle but could I trust him? Matthew Hayden was terrific and Virender Sehwag is explosive but I think I’ll have to go with the little master Sachin Tendulkar. He averages a tick under 55 in Tests and is a magical player.

Next up we have the middle order (3-5) and boy have we seen some great5 players in my time. Here is a brief look at the players who I’m not picking…Steve Waugh, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Hashim Amla, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Kevin Pietersen, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Rahul Dravid. That is some list of players but I think 3-5 is actually really easy. I’d have Ricky Ponting at three, Jacques Kallis at four and Brian Charles Lara at five. Kallis also provides the fourth seamer option as he can easily give me 10-15 overs in a day.

Now at number six is without a doubt my most controversial choice and in so a player who most people wouldn’t even think of. I think in the middle order you need at least one player who can be the glue is everything is going wrong. This is another spot where Rahul Dravid could easily have been picked or Mr Cricket himself – Michael Hussey but I’m going with my only English player – one who played 100 Tests for England and was always the guy you wanted to see coming in at 30/3 if times were hard – Graham Thorpe. He averaged ‘only’ 44.66 but was always the anchor when England needed him. A team full of All Stars probably doesn’t need that anchor but I’d still want one so Thorpe is in for me.

Coming in at seven is Adam Gilchrist who has the gloves. I don’t think anyone would argue this. Averaged 47.60 in Tests and changed the way we viewed wicketkeeping. Do I need to say much more about this? Not really. Don’t have to justify it as no-one else really got a look in despite my love of Mark Boucher he wasn’t in Gilly’s league.

Coming in at nine would be by spin bowler and in was a two horse race. Either you pick Muttiah Muralitharan or like me you select Shane Warne. Also here is the surprise. Warne never captained Australia in Test cricket but he would be my captain. I think Warne is one of the finest cricketing brains out there and there is no doubt he is the greatest captain Australia never had.

With Warne coming in at nine that means I have a pace bowler coming in ahead of Warne (which shows great depth in batting). I just about saw Wasim Akram in his prime and for me he has to be in this side. His pace and swing was years before his time and his long time opening bowling partner Waqar Younis could be seen as hard done by not to make the side. However Wasim is my first change bowler so I have a strike pair yet to be announced.

Glenn McGrath is a no brainer. Australia had the best spin bowler of all time and the best pace bowler of his generation in McGrath playing in the same team. That is in no small part to why they dominated the sport. He’ll bat at 11 and at 10 and taking the new ball with McGrath is Curtley Ambrose. I know Courtney Walsh had a better record but I always felt that when at full pace and when he was really up for it Ambrose was the hardest and fiercest pace bowler of his generation. I was a huge Ambrose fan. Players like Walsh, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Andrew Flintoff got a brief glance. Flintoff as a bowler was extremely good but he was never an all-rounder (apart from his very early years).

I think this team has every angle covered. I know a couple of players would be questioned (Thorpe and Ambrose certainly) but this is all subjective. If we were just having a ‘best players in my generation’ team then Kevin Pietersen may well had made the team instead of Thorpe and Walsh’s consistency may well have knocked Ambrose out but I think Thorpe and Ambrose bring something to my team that Pietersen and Walsh don’t (steel and raw aggression).

So to recap:

Smith
Tendulkar
Ponting
Kallis
Lara
Thorpe
Gilchrist (wkt)
Akram
Warne (Capt)
Ambrose
McGrath

If I was picking a squad of 16 for a tour you can add Sehwag, Pietersen, Boucher, Muralitharan and Walsh and I’m still not picking players I truly loved like Chanderpaul, Ul-Haq, Hussey…we have seen real quality in recent years. I might well do my generation team for T20 games in the near future and if I do I’d be interested to see how many of the Test players make that squad…I’m putting the over/under at five but I haven’t really thought about it yet.

Who would make your Test team if you had to pick a team to win a Test match of only players you’ve seen play?

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November 25th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

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More PE each week is good but it isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ problem

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I don’t think it would be a shock to anyone that knows me that I was would enjoy two hours of PE a day. In fact not a lot would’ve made me happier at school than spending ten hours a week playing sport. Yes I said playing sport and not doing Physical Education. I think there is a distinct difference between the two and one that should not be ignored.

When the Mayor of London said last week that he thought two hours of PE a day was a great idea then he’s right. It is. However great ideas in theory don’t always equate to being great ideas in practice. If there was compulsory two hours of PE a day then most schools would need to either find eight hours extra a week or cut time from other subjects. Now if you were to ask me whether PE was more important than algebra then I’d say it was but many would disagree.

How many students would like the school day lengthened by an hour each day so extra PE time could be taught? Not many I suspect and those who don’t like PE anyway would be distraught but maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing. We have a very short school day as it is so what is there to stop the school day going on an extra hour each day?

I remember in Year 8 we had double Games and double Geography back-to-back between morning break and Lunch. Our Games teacher was also our Geography teacher so it was ok as we often came in late all hot and bothered when the girls were sitting there waiting for five minutes for us to turn up (he often overran the Games lesson as a) we liked it and b) he’d forget the time) and we had no issues being late as he knew why. However this also happened in Year 7 but this wasn’t the same teacher. Luckily he was a good teacher and was understanding. I know other kids didn’t have that understanding. I do think PE and/or Games should preferably be taught in a period where there is a natural break after it or preferably at the end of the day although a whole school having PE last thing doesn’t really work.

I can hear the tens of you that will read this yelling out ‘but I didn’t like PE so I wouldn’t like this’ but the reality is most of us didn’t like most of our lessons anyway. The important thing is to give options. At school we didn’t really have many PE options. The choice was made for us. Also looking back I think at both my senior schools there were only four full-time PE staff at both so that doesn’t leave to much wiggle room for multiple choices. So staffing levels need to be addressed if this government are genuinely keen on making PE a vital part of the curriculum again.

Personally speaking I think there are many things that students need to learn but don’t and I like the Japanese model of after-school clubs that cater for all. Whilst Japanese classes may finish at say around 3, kids won’t go home until nearer 6 as they have a variety of after-school clubs that they have to attend but they get the choice of what to attend but I’m digressing away from just the PE aspect and into the whole make-up of school days and that is probably not the way to go at this juncture.

Back at PE. At my first secondary school we had both PE and Games. So PE was things like Gym and working on general fitness and Games was whatever sport you were playing that half-term so Rugby, Hockey, Basketball, Cricket etc… – we were a Rugby school and not a Football one. Lots of talk about Indian dance and I do recall somewhere in the annals of my mind that we did do dance for a half-term at some point. I see no problem with dance being taught in a PE lesson. PE should mostly be about getting kids active.

PE is not a ‘one size fits all’ lesson but to be blunt neither is any subject taught in school. Schools are often about things you enjoy and then things you endure. Technology for me was something I had less than zero interest in. Whether it be graphics or woodwork or design or cooking I just didn’t care. I possibly could have used that cooking skill now as I live off microwave meals and bunging things in the oven but I still had to do it for two hours a week. The same should be levied at PE.

I have read so many people saying that they had bad experiences of PE at school and that we shouldn’t force it upon those that don’t like it because they didn’t. Well that’s crap. We can’t pick and choose what we do at school until we are 14 pretty much and PE is not only part of a broad education it is part of making this country a healthier one. PE can inspire just as much as Maths or English can. Reading Shakespeare or Dickens will inspire a writer but running around a muddy field will inspire someone else.

Physical Education can and should become part of the Olympics legacy. They want to inspire a generation well this is the opportunity. If I was Michael Gove I would find a way to extend the school day and get an hour of PE at least three days a week and community projects in two days a week. Education isn’t just about learning stuff but also about maturing and getting interested in things. After-school clubs were in my day pretty much limited to sporting endeavours but how good would it be if lots of other interests were catered for? Building robots or making a community radio station or fashion design or whatever. We need to inspire kids and get them interested in things after school that aren’t going home and watching cartoons, playing on the games console, surfing the internet or wandering around the shops.

PE can be a big part of this but there are other things that will inspire people. Yes this would involve more work for teachers but for me the onus on teachers now to fill students brains with useless information to pass exams and to get up league tables. Teachers should be there to inspire kids in whatever interests them. All teachers have hobbies that they are interested in and no doubt they’ll be many students who would also be interested in that.

So to conclude as I have again waffled off subject. I think the school day should be extended. PE options should be wide and varied. However inspiring a generation isn’t just about sport it is about everything. Students need inspiring or they’ll do nothing and a motivated student in one capacity will lead to doing well in others.

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August 14th, 2012 at 11:08 am

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So who will make the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist? Lets have an early look…

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Last year many people were up in arms that there were no women on the SPOTY shortlist. Well this year that won’t be the case but I thought I’d have a look at how things stand for the annual event in December:

The following are in without any shadow of a doubt:

Bradley Wiggins – The guy became the first British winner of the Tour de France. He didn’t need to win Olympic gold to get on this list but he did anyway. Wiggins is a no doubter and is the favourite and rightly so. The TdF is an insane event and his performance was just as mad. Seriously impressive.

Jessica Ennis – A woman. Rejoice. She was one of the faces of the Olympic Games and not only did she win Gold but she did it in style and started off the Saturday night of joy that was quite something for us Brits. Any multi-event athlete in Athletics won wins Gold in an Olympic Games or World Championship deserves to – and would make the top ten.

Mo Farah – Again no shock here. Mo did the 5k, 10k double at the Olympic Games. Yeah he’s in.

Rory McIlroy – Whilst everyone was watching the Olympic Games come to a close Rory was winning the final golf major of the year. Any golfer or tennis player who wins a major will make the shortlist – even in an Olympic year.

They are the four who are no doubters take it to the bank top ten.

The following are probably in:

Andy Murray – I want to say he is certainly in but he could still miss out. He got to the final both in Australia and Wimbledon before winning Gold and a Silver at the Olympics.

Ben Ainslie – He may have been a bit lucky to win his Gold but he won it and having won Gold in his fourth successive games that puts him in the ‘probably’ list and closer to certainly in than ‘in the mix’

Sir Chris Hoy, Laura Trott, Jason Kenny – I have lumped these three in together as they are an interesting one to see how it’ll turn out. All three won two Gold medals in the Velodrome but who do you pick as not all three are making the list surely? You’d lean towards Laura Trott because she won a multi-event event but we’ll see.

Charlotte Dujardin – She won a couple of Gold’s is the Dressage and two Gold’s in two different events always gets you noticed. Even though above Sir Chris and Jason also win two gold’s in two different events they are probably outshone by a fellow sportsman and there are only ten spots up for grabs…

Katherine Grainger – She won one Gold just like many other rowers but she was the one with the back story. She had been so close yet so far away before. If there is one thing that Brits like then that is someone who finally wins after being so close so many times. A rower will surely make the list and if one does then she’ll be the one.

The following are what I’d say are ‘in the mix’:

Alistair Brownlee – This is a very interesting one. He dominated triathlon this year and it is a sport no-one usually even notices but being an Olympic year they did – and he won it. Triathlon is quite something but will it be enough?

Nicola Adams – She won Gold but unlike the other Gold winners she is a she and not a he – this is a story in itself. If any of the boxers get the nod it will be her.

Tom Daley – He didn’t win Gold but he has a back story and had many people hooked for his final. That is enough to get him in the mix.

Lewis Hamilton & Jenson Button – If either driver wins the F1 World Drivers Championship then they’ll get there. No doubt. However as we know we are months away from that but worth acknowledging that they are around.

I don’t expect to see any footballers make the grade as the star footballers of 2012 in the UK are both foreigners – Robin van Persie and Didier Drogba. Also I don’t see any of the England cricket team having stood out in 2012 but I suppose it is possible one makes the shortlist but unlikely.

No doubt many will disagree but the top four are in and the others are probably around where I’ve placed them. I know there are other Gold medal winners that I haven’t mentioned but I don’t think they’ll make it. I don’t see more than one Olympic rower or boxer making it or the winner of the clay-pigeon shooting or the kayak sprint.

Remember you can always gamble on who’ll actually win SPOTY and you can get some of the best free bet offers around at FREEbets.org.uk

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August 13th, 2012 at 6:33 pm

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My Top Ten moments of London 2012 so far…

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Inspired by the Queen of Lib Dem blogging thoughts on the matter. I have decided to put together my top ten list of the Olympic Games so far. She says that boys running fast for a few seconds doesn’t do it for her. Maybe it is a man thing, a cave-man instinct to know who is the fastest person on the planet. It is like how many people describe Man v Food as a man thing…I suspect the 100m will rank highly for me but let’s go…

Well Caron and myself agree on the number one as the Queen’s acting debut in a scene with James Bond was kick-arse. I didn’t see it live as I had a visitor and he wasn’t interested in the opening ceremony but when I saw it I thought it was just amazing.


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However the excellence of women athletes isn’t number two for me. Oh no. The Men’s 100m Final is still – and always has been – and always will be the grand-daddy of the whole games. The fact that NBC were not showing it live in the States was sheer madness as they were showing a pre-season NFL game instead but still the fastest person on Earth. Yes. There is a reason over 20million people watched it in the UK. I had Bolt losing until I saw him in his semi-final and then I was all in on Bolt and he didn’t disappoint. Awesome.

Thirdly words that will resonate with me and it should with us all, ‘I am proud to get a bronze, there is nothing to be embarrassed about,‘ – Becky Adlington after getting bronze in the 800m freestyle. Damn straight. I think that is something we all need to remember. Not being the best on a particular day doesn’t mean you are a failure. Not by a long shot. I was always a Becky Adlington fan but after that she went even further up in my estimations. Really impressed.

On to number four and this is a hard one because it was so painful but it was so gripping – in a horrific way. Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase taking silver in the lightweight double sculls final. First of all a seat broke in the boat but they were allowed to take part in the restart and then they led for the whole 2000m course apart from that final 50m and sadly that is the most important. The race was dramatic enough but their interview with Sir Steve Redgrave and John Inverdale was just heartbreaking but it is something that will stick in the mind for many years to come.

Next up I have to say that the infectiousness of Laura Trott. I’m a sucker for happy people as happy people make others happy but this girl has overcome serious physical issues to become a double Olympic Champion at just the age of 20. Serious talent but also someone with a seriously infectious personality.

We are on to number six and Saturday night in the Olympic Stadium. As the night start we knew Jessica Ennis was going to win Gold. We had high hopes for Mo Farah but Greg Rutherford came from nowhere to grab that Long Jump Gold. It made you proud to be British. It really did.

At number seven I’m going with Chad Le Clos’s Dad. We’d all be proud to have a kid win an Olympic Gold medal but boy was he proud. An exceptional interview made him the biggest star who wasn’t a member of the Royal Family who wasn’t actually an athlete of these games.

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One of the men he beat was Michael Phelps and I personally have to mention him. I truly love the swimming and that and the athletics are my favourite part of the games. Phelps was truly great after he got that monkey off his back and a pleasure to watch one final time.

The whole cycling team needs to be mentioned so here they are at number nine. We tuned into the velodrome and basically we got to learn pretty damn quickly that Gold medals were in the offing. They were all terrific and so many Gold’s and World Record’s. Sir Chris Hoy finished it off but they were all out of this world.

Lastly the BBC’s reaction to Mo Farah winning Gold. That is quite simply what sport is all about.


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Although ‘Here comes what his name’ comes close to being just as good.


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I haven’t put in the coverage by the BBC yet because it needs a whole section of its own. From wonderful presenters (bar Gary Lineker) to having every single event live online or through the red button or on dedicated extra channels on Sky and Virgin to excellent commentary teams and pundits. I’m a Sky guy but the BBC still know how to cover sport. I might say that Sky have the better football and F1 talent but seriously the Beeb have nailed this.

Sue Barker is supreme, Clare Balding is wonderful (will she front Horse Racing on Channel 4?) Hazel Irvine is solid enough and Gabby Logan was underused in the highlights show. Lineker is clearly the weak link. He’s not even good at football presenting and he’s been doing that for nigh on two decades. Ian Thorpe, Michael Johnson, John McEnroe – the BBC still have fantastic pundits. They might all get handsomely paid but boy do they deliver.

The BBC is paid for by us but with the Olympics they are starting to pay some of that money back in the form of outstanding Olympic coverage.

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August 7th, 2012 at 7:01 pm

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When did we turn into a bunch of pathetic whiny babies?

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Not about the Lib Dems before anyone jumps in but more Gymnastics. The GB team had a silver medal in the Men’s all around but got bumped down to bronze after the Japanese protested the score of one of their performances. The protest was upheld so the Japanese got what they deserved. However this hasn’t exactly been the way social media has seen the action.

Both my Facebook timeline and my twitter feed has exploded with people wanting to declare war on Japan, boycott sushi, never visit Japan on holiday, calling the Japanese cheats (and much worse) and I am sitting here thinking ‘wtf?’

This is the first summer Olympics of the twitter era where people can put down their initial reactions without actually thinking. The judges looked at the protest and agreed they had marked the Japanese incorrectly. They didn’t just knock them up a digit or two but they went from fourth to second. So clearly a score was very incorrect. The Olympics are all about fairness and as much as it would’ve been great for the British team to get the silver, a bronze is what they deserved and that is what they have got.

What I find truly bizarre is the amount of people who are suddenly experts on gymnastics and gymnastics scoring. It was similar to the afternoon and the Pete Waterfield/Tom Daley diving. Most of us know nothing about these sports apart from the basics. In gymnastics if you nail a dismount then that is good. If you don’t then it isn’t. In synchronised diving going in straight is good and being identical to your fellow diver is also good. Lots of splash and not being identical to your partner is bad.

I know people are frustrated with the Japanese protesting the result but what if the boot had been on the other foot? Imagine the British getting scored incorrectly and not getting a medal. We’d all say that there was a conspiracy and the world hates us.

I know twitter is great and everyone can tweet as they see fit but sometimes people really do tweet without engaging a brain…

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July 30th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

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Not Guilty. Not Guilty. Not Guilty. Not Guilty. Not Guilty. Not Guilty.

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They are the words a foreman spoke on Monday that ended the very public trial of Roger Clemens. The man who was seen by many as the greatest starting pitcher of his generation had been accused of lying under oath to congress with regards to having taken performance enhancing drugs.

It was just another high-profile case that the American government came up short on. They thought Clemens would be the jewel in their crown but instead deciding to have the key witness who has taken apart from not only the defence lawyers but also by his estranged wife was not a great case. Also the other key witness admitting that he could only be ’50/50′ that the admission of taking performance enhancing drugs by Clemens was an accurate recollection of what happened wasn’t a good sign. Basically the prosecution screwed up and was never in a position to win the case.

The legacy of the man known as ‘The Rocket‘ though wasn’t what was on trial. What was on trial was whether he would be one of the most high-profile inmates in American jails. His legacy that he is fighting so hard to restore will come down to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America as they are the people who get to vote on inductees to the baseball Hall of Fame and this is what is really important to Clemens.

But as commentator after commentator said during the past 48 hours – the law of the land and a jury of his peers isn’t important, they are the important ones and they and they only will decide whether he took drugs or not. It is a strange dynamic that the law of the land is immaterial when it comes to this but such is life.

Already some voters have said that they will not vote for Clemens ever because they know that he did drugs. I love the fact that these writers can know this. Not have suspicions of but they know. Those who don’t vote for him because they have suspicions you can at least see the reasoning but no-one can honestly say that they know he has done such a thing. They can say they believe he did or that they have seen enough evidence for them to strongly believe that he did but to know well that is just crazy. If they know then why weren’t they called by the prosecution to be a witness in the criminal trial? Oh wait it’s because they actually know nothing. Yes I’m looking in your direction Bill Plaschke of the LA Times.

Do I believe that he took performance enhancing drugs during his career? I honestly don’t know. He could easily have done and his career arc was shall we say ‘interesting’ and in an era when drugs were rife within sport in North America but there are other similar career arcs with no suspicions of drugs – for example Kurt Warner.

I do though believe in the age-old adage of you are innocent until you have been proven guilty. He has never been found guilty of having used performance enhancing drugs. Not only that he has been to court where a jury found him not guilty of lying to congress on the subject. For me that is good enough. If I was a voter I’d vote him in because there is little doubt that his numbers belong in the Hall of Fame and until you have that smoking gun then you have nothing.

I think he gets in but not for many years as the whole steroid era of baseball gets shunned by voters who have suspicions of every player in that era. Even guys like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will not get votes when they are eligible for the Hall of Fame because some voters quite simply refuse to vote for anyone in case they ever get linked to drugs. Suspicion isn’t even needed. It is another reason why the BBWAA are not the right people to be custodians for the Hall of Fame but that is a story for another day.

For today Roger Clemens walks as a free man without a legal stain on his character. However as soon as an accusation is made many people make up their minds and for many of those this court case will not change a thing and that to me is a sad indictment of society these days.

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June 20th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

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Nick Knight is still the Sky Sports Test cricket weak link

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I have written before about how great the Sky Sports coverage is but the piece wasn’t just about praise. It was entitled Why mess with nigh-on perfection? *glares at Sky Sports Test Cricket* and the main crux of the issue was the addition of Nick Knight to the rotation of commentators for Sky Sports Test Cricket coverage.

Well the summer Test season started on Thursday and sadly for this (and many cricket fans) Nick Knight is still on the team. I don’t know Nick Knight and I certainly don’t have any personal vendetta against him but the truth is he just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the team. I saw a great tweet yesterday which said ‘Nick Knight just talks too much and likes the sound of his own voice’ which I think is bang on the money.

Cricket is a sport where you don’t really have play-by-play commentary. Instead you have chat about the game and of course those chats are known to shall we say get off the subject. It is part of what makes cricket coverage great and TMS do it just as well as the radio and around the Globe the teams are known to just chat cricket and whatever else takes their fancy. It is a huge part of why the coverage is different to many other sports and it is something we all enjoy.

People like talking about cake on TMS. They like hearing about Bumble’s missing lawnmower. They like Michael Holding talking about not trusting a bungee rope just as much as they do him talking about how awfully the West Indies Cricket Board have treated Jerome Taylor. The six of them – Gower, Holding, Botham, Hussain, Lloyd and Atherton just work despite Botham being a distinct notch below the other five.

Atherton is becoming the new Benaud and he does this not by talking a lot but by saying insightful things. It is quality over quantity when it comes of cricket commentary on the TV. It really is. Also there is a feeling that Nick Knight – a man who didn’t even average 24 in Test cricket – isn’t the right man to talk about players who were far better than him with regards to their technique. You can understand any of the other six discussing it but it just doesn’t work from Knight.

I get the feeling that he tries just a little bit too hard to be smarter and more insightful than the other guys but it just doesn’t come off. If Sky need an extra voice bring back Paul Allott to the Test rotation as he has an easy style to listen to. Shane Warne has been involved recently and if Sky could bring him on board full-time like they have with Michael Holding then that seven man team would be out of this world.

As for Nick Knight he needs to learn to talk less and remember the pictures tell the story and he is there to add to the story not to tell the story again. That is his biggest problem in this Sky Sports Cricket viewers opinion.

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May 19th, 2012 at 4:28 pm

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