Archive for Sport

New year: political and sporting predictions for 2012.

January 1, 2012 London 2012, Politics, Sport Comments Off

It’s time for my 2012 predictions, which achieve nothing other than giving everyone something to laugh at the inaccuracy of in a year’s time…

12 political predictions for 2012:

1) Boris will beat Ken in May, by a tiny margin.
2) Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination.
3) Barack Obama will win the US presidential election by a landslide.
4) Nicolas Sarkozy will lose the French presidential election to François Hollande.
5) Ed Miliband will remain Labour leader.
6) Chris Huhne will be sacked from the cabinet.
7) David Laws will re-join the cabinet.
8) Cameron’s expected cabinet reshuffle will be a small one, with Osborne, May, Hague, Clegg, Alexander, Gove and Lansley all keeping their current jobs.
9) David Miliband will join the shadow cabinet.
10) Unemployment will start falling by the end of the year.
11) Britain will not re-enter recession.
12) Greece will leave the Eurozone.

and 12 sporting predictions for 2012:

1) Jessica Ennis will win Olympic Gold.
2) Mo Farah will win Olympic Gold.
3) Paula Radcliffe will win an Olympic medal.
4) Usain Bolt will win four Olympic Gold medals.
5) David Beckham will captain the GB Olympic team.
6) England will reach the semi-finals of the European Championships.
7) Harry Redknapp will replace Fabio Capello as England manager.
8) Manchester City will win the Premier League.
9) Liverpool will qualify for the Champions League.
10) England will win the Six Nations.
11) Andy Murray will win a Grand Slam.
12) Luke Donald will win a major.

Last year’s predictions reviewed.

December 30, 2011 Any other business, Politics, Sport Comments Off

Any fool can make predictions at the start of a new year, but it takes a big man to own up to how wrong he was, twelve months later. So here goes; my 2011 predictions (recorded here) were as follows…

11 political/economic predictions:

1) Labour will win the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election. - RIGHT 
2) In May’s local elections, the Tories and Lib Dems will each lose around 600 seats net. - WRONG
3) Labour will fall only just short of a majority in the Scottish Parliament elections in May. - WRONG
4) The ‘No’ campaign will win the AV referendum in May. - RIGHT
5) An attempted coup on Ed Miliband will be openly discussed. - WRONG
6) Dominic Grieve will replace Ken Clarke as Justice Secretary. - WRONG
7) Vince Cable will leave the cabinet, replaced as Business Secretary by David Laws. - WRONG
8) Unemployment will decrease in at least one quarter as the private sector grows. - RIGHT
9) The FTSE will climb above 6,500. WRONG
10) Strikes in London will help Ken Livingstone take the lead over Boris in the polls.WRONG
11) Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty will all confirm they’re running for president. - WRONG

and 11 sporting predictions:

1) England will win the final Ashes test, taking the series 3-1. - RIGHT
2) Paul Collingwood will quit Test cricket. - RIGHT
3) England will win the Cricket World Cup. - WRONG
4) Roy Hodgson will be sacked as Liverpool manager. - RIGHT
5) Fernando Torres will leave Liverpool. - RIGHT
6) Manchester City will win the Premier League. - WRONG
7) Andy Murray will win a Grand Slam – probably the US Open. - WRONG
8) Rory McIlroy will win a major. - RIGHT
9) Ronnie O’Sullivan will announce his retirement. - WRONG
10) New Zealand will win the Rugby World Cup. - RIGHT
11) David Haye will beat both the Klitschko brothers before retiring. - WRONG

I’ll post my (hopefully more accurate) 2012 predictions tomorrow…

An ancestral claim to fame?

November 15, 2011 Sport Comments Off

I was browsing through the BBC Sport Football gossip column earlier, when I read this little gem:

I vaguely recognised ‘Kenyon-Slaney’ as the surname of distant relatives of mine and wondered whether there was a link. After an evening spent on, I’ve discovered that William Kenyon-Slaney – member of the Grenadier Guards, England footballer (scorer of England’s first ever goal, no less), first-class cricketer and later Tory MP for Newport, Shropshire – is my great-great-great uncle. I’m rather pleased with my first dabble at genealogy…

Boris helps London win World Championships bid.

November 11, 2011 Boris Johnson, London 2012, Sport Comments Off

It was announced a couple of hours ago that London has beaten Doha to the right to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships. The bid was led by Lord Sebastian Coe, with a contribution from Boris at the conclusion of the presentation. Boris’ speech was wisely low on wiff-waffery, but strong on London’s hotels, restaurants and general preparedness, and Londoners’ passion for sport.

After the announcement of London’s victory, Boris said: ”The London team put together a cracking bid. With the 2017 championships now in the diary, next summer’s London Games is the start of a long and active life for our magnificent stadium. I believe they [the IAAF] felt we wanted it for the right reasons and that got them going.”

The victory is not only great news for sports fans – the UK will now host the Olympics, the Rugby World Cup, the World Athletics Championships and the Commonwealth Games over the next six years – but also provides a fantastic boost to the Olympic legacy. Indeed, it will become part of the Olympic legacy – both in terms of stadium usage, and in maintaining youngsters’ interest in sport beyond next year’s extravaganza.

UPDATE: Boris even showed off his French in the post-announcement press conference…

New false-start rule could ruin London 2012.

August 28, 2011 London 2012, Sport 1 Comment

Usain Bolt’s disqualification from the 100 metres final at the World Championships today is the best example so far of the utter absurdity of the IAAF’s new false-start rule. The rule – introduced last year – is that any false-start is immediately punished by disqualification, unlike the previous rule where a second chance was allowed. Christine Ohuruogo suffered yesterday and Dwain Chambers went the same same way this morning, but Bolt’s premature exit is the highest-profile casualty imaginable.

Put simply, the rule ruins highest-level sporting events for the very fans and spectators for whom professional sport even exists. What’s more, the rule has most impact – as we’ve already seen – in the most popular events, such as the sprints where every hundredth of a second counts. Even last year, Tyson Gay – quite presciently – predicted that the rule could ruin sprint events. That’s just what’s happened. Now what we’re more likely to see is athletes holding off marginally at the start, and world records becoming less common.

The World Championships are the second most important competition in the athletics calendar. For the most anticipated event at the championships to be ruined in this way is a great shame. The IAAF now need to seriously reconsider the ruling in advance of the single most important competition – next year’s Olympics in London. To potentially deprive some of the world’s greatest athletes of sport’s greatest prize because of a bureaucratic ruling from people who apparently don’t truly understand sport’s raison d’être would be an utter travesty.

In (partial) defence of Keys and Gray.

January 30, 2011 News, Sport 1 Comment

I can’t help feeling a bit uncomfortable about the furore surrounding Richard Keys, Andy Gray and their recent sexist misdemeanours. For sure, Keys’ almost violently misogynistic comments about Jamie Redknapp’s ex-girlfriend were probably a sackable offence. Gray’s sexually suggestive intimidation of a female colleague was also probably a sackable offence. What wasn’t a sackable offence was their banter about the ability of the lineswoman, Sian Massey – yet that’s what the media have focused on, rabidly, amid a maelstrom of unrelenting sanctimony.

I’m not saying it wasn’t sexist or bigoted. It clearly was. And I don’t in any sense condone sexism at a serious level – women shouldn’t be disadvantaged in the workplace or in politics due to their gender. But how many of the journalists getting worked up about this can claim to have never made a sexist jibe? Indeed can many men or women – Gandhi-esque quasi-deities apart – honestly claim to have never exchanged lighthearted sexist ‘banter’ with a friend or a colleague or a loved one? I suspect not.

One of the most publicised criticisms of the pair was that of Rio Ferdinand, England captain. He described their views as ‘prehistoric’. Are you seriously telling me there’s never been a sexist joke in the Manchester United dressing room? Or that, if there has, Ferdinand’s stood up and said “Sorry lads, we’re not having any of those prehistoric views in here.” I don’t remember him describing Wayne Rooney’s actions as ‘prehistoric’ when he committed the vastly more vulgar offence of having sex with a prostitute behind his pregnant wife’s back. Oh, and does Ferdinand think he too should have been universally castigated when, in 2006, he described Chris Moyles as ‘a faggot’ for saying he thought Alan Smith was good looking. That comment, made on live radio (Keys and Gray’s comments were, remember, unknowingly recorded), was a far nastier and greater affront to equality, yet he apologised and moved on. The lack of consistency is astounding.

The media’s criticism has been just as hypocritical. Sky themselves described the comments as “entirely inconsistent with our ethos as a business and employer”. That’s the same Sky that allows Soccer AM to have a weekly ‘sexy Soccerette‘, a model wearing little more than a football shirt, offering viewers the chance to have a pre-match oggle. No chauvinism there, of course. Funnier still, the Sun expressed its outrage at Keys and Gray’s comments, showing an article by Karen Brady in which she slammed institutional sexism. No doubt they (and she?) would claim their topless Page 3 models are ‘being empowered’ or some other nonsense?

So no, I have no problem that the two men are now out of work, but the hyperbole and faux outrage that’s greeted the comments has been tiresome, hypocritical and frankly embarrassing. Anyway, I’m off to watch the football. At least with a male referee in charge, we can be sure no mistakes will be made.

Quote of the day: Lord Coe.

January 23, 2011 London 2012, Quotes, Sport Comments Off

“I remember delivering a vision about a generation of young people being inspired to take up Olympic sports, I remember talking about young people in a poor community in East London fashioning their future through sport. I’m prepared to revisit my words but I don’t recall a whole heap about bulldozing down a publicly-funded community facility, replacing it with a football club and inspiring a generation of Tottenham season ticket holders, however many there may be on a waiting list.”

(Lord Coe, on the ludicrous idea that Tottenham might be allowed to demolish the Olympic stadium.)

Live: The Ashes: final test, day five.

January 6, 2011 Any other business, Sport Comments Off

22:55 The final day of the final test of one of the most historic Ashes series of all time gets under way in just under ten minutes.

23:00 Here’s the state of play. The Australians are 213-7, still 151 behind England. England need just 3 wickets to win the series 3-1, while Australia need their tail-enders to bat pretty much all day to get the draw. Let’s be honest – that ain’t happening.

23:05 Play starts. This, of course, is the first time England have won an Ashes series down under since the 1986/1987 series.

23:10 Michael Vaughan’s sharing some jokes on TMS. “What do you call an Australian with a hundred runs? A bowler. What do you call an Australian with a bottle of champagne? A waiter!”

23:20 This’ll be the first time since 1954 that England have won three tests down under, and – assuming we see an innings victory for England today – the first time in the history of cricket that a team has inflicted three innings defeats in one series.

23:25 Rubbish. It’s raining. It’s only expected to be a shower, though. Very little’s happened in the 20 minutes of play we’ve had.

23:35 Apparently the SCG’s full of England fans. It’s free entry today, which seems a great idea.

23:40 The covers had come off, but the rain’s just started again.

23:45 Alastair Cook’s the undoubted man of the series. His aggregate 766 runs is a truly sensational stat – the second-highest total ever for an England player in an Ashes series.

00:00 The players are back out.

00:05 Paul Collingwood gets a standing ovation from the England fans when he runs out to the boundary on what is his last day as a test cricketer. He’ll be much-missed. Determined, courageous, talented, gritty gent. Best fielder in the world, too.

00:15 The Aussies are now 252-7. This partnership’s worth 81. Getting a tad irritating now. Some of us need to be awake at work in the morning.

00:25 Siddle’s gone for 43! Swann wicket, Anderson catch. Aussies are 257-8.

00:35 England have taken the new ball.

00:40 Hilfenhaus is out! Great ball from Jimmy Anderson, caught by Prior. We’re one wicket away from sporting history…

00:55 There’s your sporting history! They’re all out! Michael Beer’s out! Get the beers in! England win by an innings and 83 runs!


New Year: political and sporting predictions for 2011.

December 30, 2010 London mayoralty, Politics, Sport Comments Off

It’s that time of year when we all suddenly think we’re in possession of Mystic Meg qualities, and forge predictions for the next 12 months. My forecast for 2010 was decidedly average – I was right about the General Election outcome, but was wrong about pretty much everything else. I said Gordon Brown would step down as an MP after the election, I said Nick Clegg would be replaced as Lib Dem leader, I said that England would win the World Cup and I said Harriet Harman would be the next permanent Labour leader (I can only assume I’d been on the Christmas Shiraz before that one). Anyway, let’s see how I do this year. I give you 11 political/economic predictions for 2011:

1) Labour will win the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election, with an increased majority (around 2,000).
2) In May’s local elections, the Tories and Lib Dems will each lose around 600 seats net. Labour to benefit.
3) Labour will fall just short of a majority in the Scottish Parliament elections in May.
4) The ‘No’ campaign will win the AV referendum in May, 65%-35%.
5) The possibility of Ed Miliband being the subject of an attempted coup will be openly discussed.
6) Dominic Grieve will replace Ken Clarke as Justice Secretary.
7) Vince Cable will leave the cabinet, replaced as Business Secretary by David Laws.
8) Unemployment will decrease in at least one quarter as the private sector grows.
9) The FTSE will climb above 6,500.
10) Strikes in London will help Ken Livingstone take the lead over Boris in the polls.
11) Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty will all confirm they’re running for president.

and 11 sporting predictions:

1) England will win the final Ashes test, taking the series 3-1.
2) Paul Collingwood will quit Test cricket.
3) England will win the Cricket World Cup.
4) Roy Hodgson will be sacked as Liverpool manager, replaced by Frank Rijkaard.
5) Fernando Torres will leave Liverpool.
6) Manchester City will win the Premier League.
7) Andy Murray will win a Grand Slam – probably the US Open.
8) Rory McIlroy will win a major – probably the Open.
9) Ronnie O’Sullivan will announce his retirement.
10) New Zealand will win the Rugby World Cup.
11) David Haye will beat both the Klitschko brothers before retiring.

England retain the Ashes.

December 29, 2010 Sport Comments Off

Many congratulations to the England cricket team who, last night, retained the Ashes down under after another crushing defeat of Australia. It’s the first time England have retained the Ashes since the 1986/87 series. They now lead the series 2-1, with one match to go. It’s a truly marvellous achievement.

I just hope England don’t take their foot off the gas in the final test, in Sydney. The series could yet finish 2-2, which would be an abomination of an outcome, considering the extent to which England have completely dominated Australia with the exception of a couple of days of the Perth test. All the great sides in history have refused to let up when a series was secured – look at Australia’s 5-0 win last time. England should do the same. They went to Australia with two objectives – to retain the Ashes and win the series. Their job is only half-done. Oh, and a declaration of interest – I have money on England to win the series 3-1…

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