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Wednesday, 28 October 2009

It's Notts Right

Notts County is an odd little club this season, to say the least.  They’ve been taken over by a multi-millionaire that no one knows the identity of.  They also have Sven-gali as their Director of Football in an experiment that’s doomed to last as long as, well, a vow of celibacy from Mr. Eriksson.  With their new-found injection of cash, County promptly snapped up Sol Campbell who gave us two of the funnier moments of the season thus far.  Firstly, he said he was taking a 50% pay cut to join the League Two outfit (on a mere £40,000 a week) which is surely impossible, given the fact that Campbell was a free agent and thus was earning £0 per week before he signed up.  He also then fled after one game, allowing fans to hold up one of the best chants of the season.

We had Sol but he’s not a soldier.

All joking aside, what’s going on at Notts County is disgraceful and while it has garnered some media attention, most of that has been of the ‘ooh look at that silly club’ variety.  Too few football writers have seriously analyzed this situation, like they have done previously with the takeovers of Chelsea and Manchester City, and more recently, Portsmouth.  There’s been some investigation into the anonymous Qatar-based owners, but not enough.  The club have identified the people who they say are their owners, but those people deny any involvement.  If a ‘big’ club was taken over in such a fashion, such investigations would be all over the back pages and on several pages on the inside of the newspapers.  The problem is, to Notts County fans, they are a big club, indeed the biggest, and football fans as a whole should be worried about this because if it can happen at Meadow Lane, then it could just as easily happen at Old Trafford or Anfield or at your club.

Two weeks ago, County fired Ian McPharland after two years in the job, even though he had moved them up to fifth in the League.  Today, he’s been replaced by Hans Backe, who has been a long-term Number Two to Eriksson.  It’s a job for one of the boys, given to a man who has no experience in Lower League Football, and limited managerial experience outside of Sweden.  He’s a man who knows football, of that I have no doubt, but so do I yet I wouldn’t regard myself as a candidate to take over Notts County or any other professional club.

I support small teams in various sports and the one thing I hate to see is poor management.  Fans need to know that those in charge of their club are doing their best, giving it all, and serving the best interests of the community of people who follow that club.  Speaking as an outsider, it seems that Notts County fans are being denied this right now and we should not tolerate it.

Your club could be next.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Hellie's Premier Team Hopes

It’s part of the job title of Girlfriend to find out her mans passions and to somehow find her own interest in them. We work hard to do that. In my case it was easier said than done. I had to dig really deep into myself and find, manufacture an interest in sports. Ha!
I watched him enjoy the highs and lows of sporting events, wondering what the point was, never understanding why one person could care so much about one result and one team. I struggled to understand it. I tried asking him but it still made no sense. So I tried what I thought was the impossible and sat through a full Rugby match. The match made and impact on me I never expected. Not in a million years. Next thing I knew I was asking to see more rugby. Suddenly I found myself agreeing to go to Dublin to see Bernard Dunne in the O2. Since then my interest in sport has escalated, ten fold. I found myself agreeing to take part in a Fantasy League to get into the Premier League.

It’s working.

It’s week 9 now and I’m looking into the prospect of picking a Premier League Team. We all know the choices by now. But I have set myself goals on how to pick a team, a decent team.

Goal 1: I want a team with a history. A team I can say proudly “Ya I like them, I support them”

Goal 2: I want a team in which I don’t end up jumping on a bandwagon because someone else likes them. I want a team for me, a team that I’ve chosen and not one that has been forced on me.

Goal 3: I want a team that I can look forward to watching each week

Goal 4: (rather selfishly) I want a team that will earn my Fantasy League points as well.

Manchester United: One of the chosen four, the golden balls. It’s almost a given that as a young boy you should support Man Utd, being a girl I don’t care so much. Still though they are the most popular club and a founding club of the Premier league.....that’s a history to be proud of, I guess. It’s also def a bonus that Utd have a local Cork “hero” Roy Keane as a former player, being a cork woman I have to say that. Final point? Gavin likes them.

They don’t make the cut.

Aston Villa: Another founding club of the premier league, an ancient team founded in 1874, old timers have great history. Natural rivals to Birmingham, always like a good bit of rivilery to keep a side going. Their kit is an odd collection of colours though, not sure I like them. 5th in the All Time FA League means they’ve done well but like my report cards always said “can do better”

I don’t think so......

Liverpool: Won more trophies than any other team. That’s good. Another oldie in the club stakes. Golden Balls and one of the four.... Liverpool has a great history with the Beatles, I like the Beatles. Teams kit colours are better than Vilas but that wouldn’t be hard. Good history with the stadium, Anfield looks great and it’s definitely I could see myself going to see, I like Liverpool.

They are possible as a team.

Chelsea: Frank Lampard is a good start, I call him Lampy, he gets me points for my fantasy league team. Colours are ok.....I don’t understand why they were called The Pensioners? The last decade has been their best so far, the golden balls and one of the four. Located in London is a good thing, great excuse to go over, see a match and take in a show and some shopping.

Possible, very much so.

Fulham: Another oldie, founded in 1879 and still going strong. Ish. They don’t have the best reputation right now. Former player George Best gets them Kudos though. Nice normal not too obvious coloured kit helps Nice long eventful history. Only debuted in the Premier League in 2001-2003, not very long to gain experience.

I don’t think so no.....

West Ham: Highest finish in the Premier League was in 98-99, ages ago. Too long. Geoff Hurst of the infamous hat trick of 1966 is a former player for West Ham. Started well this year. Well known over the years for Hooliganism and football related violence. Rivals? Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur....Long History, goes on forever.

I don’t think so, not with the violence, I’d be squeeshed.

Stoke City: Wow the oldest club in the premier league, 1863 thats ages ago!! Oldie indeed. Their nickname however doesn’t help them at all, The Potters? As in Harry Potter? Hmmmm I hope not. Another team with a hooligan filled history, and ID cards to try and stop this at away games? No idea how this helped but I don’t fancy it.

Eh no.......

Everton: I like Liverpool and this lot are based in Liverpool as well.....They were even founding members as well, although at this stage it doesn’t seem so impressive. Although they do generally have great attendance at games with roughly 95% of all seats filled. Rivals you ask? But of course, Liverpool! I won’t even pretend to like their colours or kits!

All in all? Maybe......

Blackburn: Played well this season against Arsenal, decent start. Another founder but this time of the Football and Premier League, nice history! A run of 11 losses in 2008 doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence though. Plenty of Irish players on the team though, always good for us here however the games are the least attended in the league.

Will I? Won’t I? I won’t no....

Arsenal: Most successful of the league teams with the most wins, nice, awful nickname though “The Gunners” sounds as hooligan ish as you can get but I’ll assume it has something to do with the picture of a gun on the crest. The ladies team is the basically the best in the league and I really like that. Even their kit seems ok, ish.

The Verdict? Maybe yeah I could deal with that.

Tottenham Hotspur: Same name as Shakespeare’s Hotspur, great link! In the season of 60/61 they won the league and the FA, the only team to win the double. Pity it was so long ago but still a decent enough history. All their well played seasons were ages ago. I don’t like their kits, none of them look good.

Nope. No chance.

Sunderland: Haven’t won a title since 1936, what’s that all about? Not sure I wanna know any more after finding that bit out. I don’t get the nickname The Blackcats, it’s weird and I think it has something to do with the cats on their crests? Either way I hate cats. Andy Reed plays for them, an Irish man who doesn’t and didn’t play for Ireland lately, seems awfully silly.

Silly isn’t for me.

Portsmouth: Nicknamed Pompey this team have a reasonably ok history of winning the FA cup, better than other no hope teams. Mainly owned by a Saudi Arbian family the teams main rivals are Southampton and are 2 divisions below, perhaps the lack of rivals in the Premier league is cause for concern? Or am I just looking for a reason to say no other than I don’t fancy trips to Portsmouth in the near future?


Wolves: Probably the only team with a understandable nickname, their own Wolverhampton Wanderers is far too long. 2006 saw a clearout of players and Mick McCarthy take over the club. The last few years have seen a lot of changes in the club, can this be good for the team to have so many upsets and changes? Probably not. And their colours are shockingly bad.


Wigan: Their only ever spot in the Premier League is this one, rough. 1995-2005 saw the impossible and Wigan made it to the Premier League, an idea that was laughed at way back then. The hunger they have to stay there must be helpful. Oddly the clubs rivals aren’t a football team but a rugby team, I like quirky this is very quirky. Kevin Kilbane used to play for them, not bad points wise but he left for a reason.

Possible choice? Maybe?

Hull City: A Yorkshire based team, they have browny points already. Least season they were too close to comfort to falling down to the next league, they narrowly avoided it by one point. But they did stay in the premier league, Kudos for that. Two irish players, including Kilbane, again think of the points.

Yeah I’ll shortlist them. Yorkshire is home sure....

Bolton: They’ve spent the longest time in the league without winning a title. Eh how? That’s not good. Two Irish players as well but I haven’t heard of either of them. Not good. Varied History but nothing worth writing home for.

Not a chance.

Burnley: The Clarets, named for their colours, have spent most of their life in the top two divisions but from 76 to 09 they failed to reach the top and have only just returned. OK fair enough everyone has bad weeks, but that’s a lot of bad.......I love that they have their own song “Dare to Dream” written by a teacher (lol) and a 8 year old pupil. I love the quirkiness!

A slim chance but better than others.

Birmingham : This year is only their 6th year in the premier league, but the club won other titles donkeys years ago under various other names such as The Heath....I’m glad they changed their names. The Umbro kit they have this year is kinda pretty, the colours are ok. Main rivals are Aston Villa, perhaps a pipe dream to beat them but I guess at the very least it gives the club a focus.

Yes? No? Maybe? Eh no.

It’s taken a few days to get to know each of the teams and clubs in the premier league but after all the reading I’ve done the last week or so I feel like I know the clubs better. Can I choose a team to follow?

Probably not based on what I’ve read and learned but I think from paying attention to the league this year I can. It may be based on a total biased point of view, on points and on daft names but I think I can manage it.

It’s been narrowed down to just two clubs for the season. It’s down to.....(this is where a TV ad break cuts in to the huge announcement) either Liverpool or Chelsea. However I’m expected to narrow it down now I’ve no idea but its thanks to Lampy (Lampard) and Bully (Torres) that I’ve gotten this far. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll come out and have a definite answer to the question, “How do you Pick a Premier League Team?” and which team is best suited for Hellie.

Maybe I’ll have caught on to a team by the end of the season but til then I’m guessing I’ll have to base all my fantasy league hopes on Lampy and Torres and hope that I can choose at the end.

Monday, 19 October 2009

The Worst Of The Best

So Jenson Button is World Champion. Congratulations. I’m one of many (a large majority I suspect) who felt that this day would never come so well done to Jenson.

But, though he is World Champion, my question is how good is he really?

Mark Hughes reckons Button is the bee’s knees and makes a convincing argument on the BBC F1 Website as to why Button has taken so long to reach this point and why we should acclaim him as a true great. I disagree.

Jenson has had several years in the sport now, but before this year had only won one race at a rain-affected Hungarian Grand Prix. Now you can argue, rightly, that this is due in part to the fact that he was never in one of the grid’s best cars but I counter that point with a simple fact – Button would have been in one of those cars if he was good enough. Remember, this is a man that about twelve months ago looked destined to be booted out of the sport. When Honda jumped ship, he was left without a drive. His commitment to Brawn and his decision to take a pay cut to stay in the sport are commendable, but let’s not fool ourselves and say that Jenson Button is the fastest driver in the world. In the same car, on a dry track, I would fancy Massa, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel and maybe Kubica to finish ahead of the Briton. He may be World Champion but in my book, Jenson Button is not world class.

Look at his title winning season. Button began the year in a Brawn GP car that was the class of the field. Yes, he took advantage of this, but in truth all he had to do was outrace team-mate Rubens Barrichello. After seven races, Button had 61 points. Since then, he’s won 28 points in nine races. Vettel has won 45, Barrichello 37, Webber 34, Hamilton 40 and Raikkonen has scored 38. Sure, Jenson has been consistent in that he’s scored points in all but one race, but he’s limped across the finishing line. In the second half of the year, he has been mediocre and outraced by all of this title rivals, even a man in the same car as him. He won this World Championship in the first seven races and though that is how the rules are configured, Button has had the worst finish to the season of any champion that I can remember.

Jenson Button has taken advantage of a great situation and for that he does deserve to be commended. However, once the hoopla dies down, I feel that in years to come we will look back on the 2009 Formula One World Championship as a poor one, and it’s champion will be a man who’s fluked his way to the top spot.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Bye Bye Taylor

I pointed this out earlier on tonight and here's a video pulled off Youtube.  This is from tonight's fight between Jermain Taylor and Arthur Abraham and here's Abraham's 12th round knockout.  It's a corker.

Bent Bursts Liverpool Bubble

Here's a video of Darren Bent's goal for Sunderland against Liverpool today.  Watch how it deflects in off of a balloon on it's way into the goal.

On behalf of all Manchester United fans...

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Is The Super Six Really Super?

I’m just watching the first fight of the Super Six World Boxing Classic, Arthur Abraham v Jermaine Taylor in Germany. After 8 rounds, the commentators have one round in it so I expect Abraham to win by about 8 points, given the way fights are scored in Germany.

For those of you that haven’t heard about the tournament, and due to boxing’s perilous standing in the world, the Super Six World Boxing Classic involves six boxers who will fight a series of fights over eighteen months to determine the best Super Middleweight in the world. Indeed, it’s an attempt to boost the profile of the sport itself.

Jermain Taylor, Arthur Abraham, Carl Froch, Andre Dirrell, Andre Ward and Mikkel Kessler are the six entrants in the Super Six and, to be fair to the organisers, they are six of the top ten in the world. Indeed, only Lucian Bute can feel aggrieved that he wasn’t invited to take part – he is the IBF World Champion. And Super Middleweight is one of boxing’s most vibrant divisions. Froch fought Taylor last timeout in a bout that ended in a twelfth round knockout for the Nottingham man, while Mikkel Kessler has been involved in plenty of scraps too. They’re good boxers, and good boxers to watch – this should work, right? I doubt it.

The problem with the Super Six is the very problem that it is trying to fix. Boxing’s profile is low, and isn’t helped by the media coverage. It’s on Showtime in the States, the second biggest premium channel for boxing in the States, rather than HBO or (in a dewam world) ESPN or one of the networks. At least it’s on an established channel – in the UK, tonight’s action is on a channel called Primetime, it’s first ever program. And it’s pay-per-view.

So, good as the tournament is, it will battle to register beyond the boxing community. I hope it does, like I always do when it comes to boxing, but I’m pessimistic.

Abraham won, by knockout. It’s one of the knockouts of the year. I thought I was going to be proven correct on the scorecards. I still may have been. I’ll have to get a video of that punch up. Yowza it was a good ‘un.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Football gives you brain damage?

A medical study in the United States has issued some pretty worrying results for the National Football League (NFL) and all high contact sports such as boxing.

William Reville of the Irish Times discusses the medical side of the report and it's possible effects in detail here.

Well worth a read, he is objective and brings to light the most important aspects of this report.
At the same time it is also quite worrying when he brings this report to Irish sports, namely Rugby.

For some years it has been noted that rugby players at the highest level all over the world are getting bigger.
Personally, I noticed it the most when Munster played Wasps in the semi-final of the Heineken Cup in 2004. Wasps' players such as Josh Lewsey a winger that day, seemed to be the physical build of David Wallace, Munster's flanker rather then John Kelly the winger.

Notably, Eddie O'Sullivan saw this as a key issue for the Irish national squad and started to implement off-season programs in Spala , Poland to, for want of a better word, beef up the Irish players.
The change was most notable in player's like Ronan O'Gara or Peter Stringer for Munster, and maybe Gordan Darcy for Leinster.

Also, it clearly improved results on the field. This trend however, has trickled down the grades to school boy level. At what age is it acceptable to be pumping young players fuel of dietary supplements or creatine?

I know it has not been 100% confirmed but reports of creatine and it's effect on the liver are widely known. As much as the NZRFU will deny it, the supplement robbed the game of one of the best wingers in the world in Jonah Lomu.

This is not the first time the size of players debate has come to the fore, but this new report from the States has already caused the NFL to conduct reviews on 120 retired players. Maybe it is times for the ERC or the IRFU and RFU to look into something similar?

PS. The line in the report about multiple concussions has this author pretty spooked!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Irish Boxing Set For Middleweight Feast

As part of work today, I attended a press conference in Limerick where Andy Lee announced his next fight.  For the record, it will take place on November 14th in the University Sports Arena and Lee’s opponent will be French and European Union Middleweight Champion Affif Belghecham.  He’s a decent fighter who’s ranked ahead of Lee by most organizations but his lack of power – four knockout wins in 23 fights – makes me think Lee will be favourite, particularly in front of his home fans.

Much of the talk at the press conference surrounded other potential opponents for Lee, namely John Duddy and Matthew Macklin.  This trio have the potential to give Irish boxing some of its biggest ever domestic fights.  They all fight at or near middleweight and each one is a top class fighter, if not quite world class (yet).  More importantly however, each boxer has the ability to entertain and a series of fights between them could give Ireland something similar to the Benn/Eubank/Watson fights in the UK in the early 1990s.

Lee is probably the most naturally gifted of the three.  He’s fought 20 times, losing only once in a premature stoppage against Brian Vera.  After failing to medal at the Athens Olympics, Lee signed on to be trained and managed by Emmanuel Steward and his Kronk crew.  Steward promised much but so far Lee has failed to deliver.  Most of his fights have been unimpressive and though he shows some power with several knockdowns, he’s lacked the flashy knockouts you feel he’s capable of.  He also has the small problem of being the most in need of this quasi-tournament, hence (I feel) the reasons that it was spoken about today.

Duddy has one defeat, against Billy Lyell in April of this year, but he did bounce back from that with an impressive win over Mexican Michi Munoz in New York on Saturday.  He’s now likely to fight in Mexico in December before a mouth-watering clash with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. In New York on St. Patrick’s Weekend.  It’s worth noting that he’s persuing this course of action (in conjunction with Bob Arum of Top Rank) instead of fighting Lee in Limerick, a fight that he was offered (according to what was said at Thomond Park today).

Macklin, about two years ago, would probably have been regarded as a distance behind both Lee and Duddy.  That’s because of the two defeats on his record but they’re not important right now, simply because he’s bounced back from them, and in style.  (Ironically, one of those defeats was in a barnstormer against Jamie Moore, who himself could work his way into this potential series of fights, even if he is a way behind the rest, at least until he wins a European Title of his own next week.)  Indeed, Macklin is probably our finest middleweight.  That’s after his European Title win over Amin Asikainen last month.  Macklin blitzed the Finn in one round – take note Andy Lee, this is the sort of thing we need to see from you

They’re three potentially great fighters and they’re all Irish.  Anyone who remembers the Benn/Eubank/Watson fights will know how three fighters can capture the attention of the public, and these three fighters have the style to give us classic fights.  It is a potential purple patch for the Irish boxing and I, for one, hope that we will see them in the ring together in the not-too-distant future.

Bonehead Of The Week

My buddy Walshie won't like me posting this. It comes from Sunday's game between the Atlanta Falcons and his beloved San Francisco 49ers. It was a bad day for the ‘Niners fans – not only were they hammered by Matt Ryan and co. but they also had to watch cornerback Dre Bly make this idiotic mistake. Watch below as Bly intercepts a pass from Ryan, only to celebrate too soon and lose the ball when tackled by Roddy White. Stoopid.

Monday, 12 October 2009


Depending on the time of the year, my all-out favourite team varies but from September – December, NFL season, it’s generally the Kansas City Chiefs. Even this year.

The Chiefs, it’s fair to say, are a pretty poor team. We’ve lost 27 of our last 29 games, dating back to the middle of the 2007 season. Last night, we blew a 10 point lead against the Dallas Cowboys, then fought back to force overtime, and then lost regardless. It made for tough viewing, but I’m hardened to it by now. Unsurprisingly.

The worst part about it all is how management of your team screws things up, and one such instance was pointed out to all Chiefs fans by Peter King today in his excellent Monday Morning Quarterback column. It involves our former Defensive End Jared Allen, who is now with the Minnesota Vikings and is probably one of the best defensive players in the NFL this season. The Chiefs traded him at the end of the 2007 season. It was a deal I agreed with at the time – he wanted to go – but boy have the Vikings had the best part of the deal.

I’ll leave King to explain the latest bit of Chiefs related information that has me in despair.


I think if you're a Chiefs' fan, you might want to skip this section. Kansas City refused to give Jared Allen a top-tier defensive end contract 18 months ago, instead shipping him to Minnesota for what appeared to be fair compensation three days before the 2008 draft. Here's how the deal looks today:

What the Chiefs got:

1st round (15th overall) Branden Albert, OT -- Starting LT has a chance to be good. In-and-out work ethic.

3rd round (73) Jamaal Charles, RB -- Change-of-pace back averaging five carries a game in 21 pro games.

3rd round (82) DaJuan Morgan, S -- Sub safety who still has to prove self to new coaching staff.

6th round (182) Kevin Robinson, WR -- Cut by Chiefs in '08. Never played for them.

What the Vikings got:

Jared Allen, DE -- The league's best all-around defensive end has 21 sacks and three safeties in 22 Viking games.

6th round (187) John Sullivan, C -- First-year starting center on one of NFL's best lines.

It's not certain, but it's possible that history will show that the Vikings got a more productive player at 187 (Sullivan) than the Chiefs got at 15 (Albert). Ouch.


Ouch indeed.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

C'Mon You Boys In Green

The countdown is on to Ireland v Italy.

Four and a half hours now!

I'm not sure how big a game it actually is - Ireland can wil and still not overtake Italy at the top of Group 8.  Nonetheless, it would be brilliant to beat the World Champions in our own back yard and give us four days of dreaming that Cyprus might, just MIGHT, do us a favour against the Italians in Italy.

To get you in the mood, here's a reminder of THAT day in Giants Stadium on the opening weekend of the 1994 World Cup.

It really was fifteen years ago... Christ.  I'm old.

Bohs' Bailout Is Not Right

Apologies for my recent silence but I've been very busy.  Despite that, I can't let one very, very annoying story rumble on past without comment.

The story comes from the world of Irish football and concerns Bohemians FC.  For our foreign readers, or for those of you seemingly unaware that association football is, in fact, played here, Bohemians are one of Ireland's most successful clubs.  This decade alone, Bohs have won three League of Ireland titles and two FAI Cups.  They've also been moderately successful in Europe - the win over Aberdeen in 2000 was probably their highlight.  All in all, they're one of our finest.

Like all clubs, Bohs have been hit hard by this recession you may have heard about, but then again who hasn't?  And Bohs' appearance in the Champions League this season, not to mention prize money from last season's League and Cup wins, as well as appearance money in the Setanta Sports Cup, should mean that they're able to stomach the downturn.  Unfortunately, no.  This week it was revealed that Bohs were bailed out by the FAI to the tune of €100,000 earlier this season.  The cash was not a gift, nor a loan, but (according to the FAI) an advance on monys paid to Bohs by UEFA for their brief appearance in the Champions League.

This is a disgrace.  In a year when Cork City were on the brink and when clubs like Galway United, Sligo Rovers and Drogheda have all struggled, why do Bohemians deserve money?  The FAI say that the nature of this money isn't a loan and thus means that they're not contributing to the club's operational costs, but so what?  A loan is a loan and by all accounts this money was given to Bohs to ensure their financial stability.  So why them?  Why not any other struggling League of Ireland club?

When it comes to sport, favouratism cannot be allowed from any figures of authority.  Not from a referee, not from officials and certainly not from the body charged with running the game.  The FAI say that what they have done is not unusual, and even say that they've done similar favours for other clubs but that's not good enough either.  Clubs should live within their budgets, even in times like this when all clubs are struggling financially.  Bailouts shouldn't be given, to anyone.

All any fan wants is fairness.  We want our lot to win, sure, but more important than that is the knowledge that the playing field is level.  A mere suggestion of bias towards one side or another comprimises the integrity of the game and in an instance such as this happens.  Fans of other clubs can now argue that 'the FAI love Bohs 'cos they gave them all that cash' and while that may not be the case, this bailout is enough to plant seeds of doubt into the fans of other clubs, including your's truly. 

This money, though well intentioned, was an own goal.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Rush Not Wanted

I see that Rush Limbaugh is part of a group that is currently in talks to buy the NFL's St. Louis Rams.

For those of you unaware of Rush...I envy you.  At best he's a conservative talk radio host who is viewed by some as the voice of the Republican Party while to some he's an eveil right-wing rascist who uses said radio show to spout ills and evils to a worryingly large audience.  I'll let you decide which is most correct.

One thing that Rush has been accused of is being a rascist, particularly after one incident during his short but unforgettable tenure as an analyst on ESPN's NFL Countdown show in 2003.  I can't find a video of the incident but here is what he said of Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback, Donovan McNabb.

"Sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

He promptly resigned three days later, and rightly so.  McNabb isn't one of the game's greats but at that point he had led the Eagles to an NFC Championship Game and was one of the gane's better signal callers.

I don't know for sure whether the NFL has a fit-and-proper test for perspective owners but it wouldn't surprise me if they do.  I know, for example, that the Premier League does.  If they do, then I hope that these comments are levied at him and used to keep him out of the League.  American football is a fine sport and the NFL is the best spors league on the planet.  Neither needs Limbaugh or his ilk.

Richard Dunne Good

I’m not going to blog about Brett Favre today, despite his heroics against the Packers last night. Sure, Brett played very well but he played quite well with the Jets last year. I still expect him to flop before the end of the season, as he also did with the Jets last year. Many may have Favre fever but not this hack. Not yet.


Instead I’m going to compliment Richard Dunne for his modesty in Aston Villa’s clash with Manchester City last night. The Irishman opened the scoring in the sides’ 1-1 draw with a juicy header. Why juicy? Well, it was against his old club in his first clash against them since he was unceremoniously booted out at the end of the last transfer window. It was also juicy because he out-jumped Gareth Barry, who himself was playing his first game at Villa Park since he left for the Middle Eastlands. It was the stuff that only fate itself could give us.

Despite the poetic irony of the moment, Dunne handled himself with grace and class that I know many wouldn’t have. Look at his reaction to the goal below. His decorum and decency are not unexpected, but nonetheless they do deserve to be commended.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Audley Is No Prizefighter

When Audley Harrison won his gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, it seemed that glory and fame were within his reach. He was physically impressive, strong, had the necessary skills and he was loved by the British public. He signed a £2m pound TV deal with the BBC and it seemed that he was set to box his way to a world title in front of the nation. His mantra was clear and was often repeated for anyone who would listen: “I will be world champion.”

What happened next, as they say, is history but unfortunately for Fr-Audley it wasn’t the type of history that he had hoped to make. He won his first 19 fights, none of them impressively, before Danny Williams handed him his first defeat in a drab encounter. The British public rejoiced. Audley had fallen from grace, in a big way. I can’t find video to show it, but the way in which promoter Frank Warren celebrated Williams’ knockdown of Harrison in the 10th round was a metaphor for the nation. Boy, were they delighted to see him on his ass.

Since then Audley has lost three more times – to the average Dominick Guinn, to Michael Sprott and to Belfast taxi driver Martin Rogan. Rogan got the fight with Audley on the back of his win in the original Prizefighter tournament and now, after winning another version of it last night, Audley will be hoping that Prizefighter can do the same for him.

For those of you who don’t know, Prizefighter is one of the ways in which boxing is supposedly fighting back against the threat of the UFC and the rest of the mixed-martial arts scene. I don’t really like it, much as I did enjoy last night’s event. In short, it’s an eight-man knockout tournament which requires the champion to win three fights in the one night. It works, sure, but it’s boxing for people with A.D.D. The longer forms of the sport will always be better in my eyes.

Audley really shouldn’t be fighting in something like this. He should be better than it. Yet his career is now at the point where he had no option but to. To give him credit, he took his chance and was crowned the winner last night. He then repeated the mantra we’d heard so many times: “there's still hope for me and hope for Britain to have a world champion.” I doubt it. Audley beat Coleman Barrett, Danny Hughes and Scott Belshaw last night, a series of moderate fighters but no more. To think that a win over a Galwegian who is considerably lighter and has less experience would put him in the frame for a world title shot is ludicrous.

The old boxing adage goes “you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate” and this is Harrison’s best hope. He needs another TV deal, and he needs to engage with the British public in a way he’s not done since he was basking in the glow of his Sydney triumph. That, however, seems unlikely.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Celtic Magner's League Weekend

Munster versus Leinster teams named.

There are some very interesting match ups going to take place in this one.

I've been tied up all this week which is why I have not blogged about this derby.
Also, I have not yet perfected the skill of remaining unbiased for such matches, but I will comment on what will hopefully be a great game, next week.

In my absence, may I turn your attention to a Liam Toland piece in today's Irish Times. Again he has shown his detailed knowledge of the game of rugby and applied it sensibly to big match between the Irish provinces.