Category: Sport

Playlisting: Sporting Animals

Usually, my Playlisting posts involve music, but this one is a little different. Today, we’ll be overrun by pine martens on the pitch, alligators and capybaras on the golf course (not at the same time, obviously), and sheep on the football field – plus a demonstration of the need for goat line technology, an invasion of plastic pigs, psychic octopi, the penguin cup final, various avian pitch invaders, cats with a fascination for ball games, and lots and lots and lots of dogs. Dogs love football. And we all love a dog on the pitch.

This playlist was originally compiled as a bit of fun for the members of an online football prediction league I play in, but it seemed a little unfair not to share the hilarity with a wider audience – so it’s time to meet a selection of sporting (and not so sporting) animals…

If you know of any sporty animal videos that can be added to the playlist, post a link in the comments or tweet me!

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To Dare Is To Do: Farewell White Hart Lane

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I grew up on the Beautiful Game. I’m of the generation whose pre-Premier League childhood memories associate the game with dodgy perms and mullets (hello Chris Waddle…), the final years of standing on the terraces as the norm in the top flight, and the weekly Saturday afternoon ritual of listening to the wonderful James Alexander Gordon read the classified football results on the radio. It wasn’t a girl’s world back then, but I was still utterly entranced by it all.

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The Beautiful Game on Film: ‘England’s World Cup Win’ (1966)

Today’s vintage film clip is from British Pathé, and is a fascinating glimpse into the world of football fifty years ago. With England playing Iceland in the Euro ’16 round of sixteen tonight, I thought it might be fun to have a look at some real English footballing success from the past. So we’re heading back five decades to the year England won their one and only World Cup.

We start with a brief look at how the World Cup footballs were skilfully made (mostly by hand, in Yorkshire) and continue with some great colour footage of the final itself, then some newsreel footage of the players being feted afterwards. And, of course, we get a glimpse of the legendary Pickles the dog, who found the World Cup in a hedge after it had been stolen a few months before the competition started.

I grew up on stories of ’66 from football-mad relatives who were actually there – they were at every single England game of that World Cup, including the final. They saw it all from the first match to Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet trophy (and that Geoff Hurst goal? Didn’t go in). In this lifetime, I’d love to see England lift another trophy and match the achievement of that legendary team under Sir Alf Ramsay. I’d love for the magic of ’66 to live again, just a little bit…

The Beautiful Game on Film: ‘Football Again’ (1924)

Today is the opening day of the football European Championships in France and I’m quite excited. Indeed, I’ve got my fixtures wallchart ready and am planning my match predictions as we speak. One reason I’m quite excited by all this is that my team, the mighty Spurs, have sent a whole eleven (count ’em!) players to Euro ’16 – including five who are in the England squad – which, after the highly dramatic season we just had, is absolutely as it should be!

While I was looking for something football-related to mark the occasion, I came across this fantastic silent newsreel footage of the 1924 Spurs team in training and I just had to post it here (for obvious reasons…). Even from this brief clip, it’s fascinating to see how much is familiar to the 21st century football fan, as well as how much the game has changed since the 1920s – just look at those shorts and that heavy ball in comparison to the hi-tech kit worn and used by modern players, for a start. I honestly can’t see the likes of Wayne Rooney in get up like that…

Watch out for more vintage football-related posts coming soon.

For more from the BFI National Archive, visit their website or their excellent YouTube channel.

Quote of the Day: On how to be a football fan, Victorian style

I don’t often write about sport, but I couldn’t let this one pass me by. I was rummaging in amongst my small library of football books today, searching for a particular quote (which is actually a whole other blog post in itself. Probably), when I found this little gem.* Apparently taken from the 1897 edition of the club handbook, here’s some useful – if perhaps slightly patronising – advice on how to be a proper 19th century Spurs fan:

Hints to Spectators

Learn the rules well before criticising.

Respect the rulings of the referee and refrain from unseemly demonstrations so common on many football fields when decisions are unpalatable – the best of referees make mistakes.

Applaud good football impartially.

Don’t let a defeat discourage you. It is at this time that encouragement is most wanted by players.

Don’t express your disapproval of a player so that everyone can hear, it only upsets him and he loses confidence.

This season’s team will doubtless accomplish some fine performances. Don’t, in your enthusiasm, forget that there is such a thing as mistaken kindness where athletes in training are concerned.

Don’t stop at home when the team goes away; they want your support more than ever when on opponents’ grounds.

Let visitors go away with the impression that the Tottenham crowd are good sportsmen.

Whether at home or away don’t forget the ‘Tottenham whisper’.

It’s amazing how little some things change over the course of a century – quite a few of these ‘hints’ are still clearly recognisable as issues within the game as a whole, and rightly so in some cases! However, despite being a life-long Spurs fan, I have absolutely no idea what the ‘Tottenham whisper’ is. Can anyone enlighten me?

* Powley, Adam and Cloake, Martin – ‘The Spurs Miscellany’ (Vision Sports Publishing, London; 2007), p.116

The Most Ridiculous Names in Sport: Part One

More than ten years ago I began compiling a list of what can only be described as sportspeople with ridiculous names, after I discovered the existence of the gloriously-monikered footballer Jermaine McSporran (strangely enough, he’s not Scottish…). The list lay dormant for quite some time until my recent discovery of another footballer with a quite astonishingly ridiculous name – the Brazilian lower-league striker Creedence Clearwater Couto (see below for more on this chap).

Posting this discovery on Twitter led to a flood of quite brilliantly silly new names (and a few old favourites) from many of my followers – leaving me clinging to my desk, breathless with laughter, for the whole of one evening last month. God knows what the neighbours must have thought! As a result of all this social media fun and games, a number of people asked me to put together a complete list in one place (it ended up being two places: Part Two to follow!) – so here it is…

Goodies and baddies:

Eden Hazard is a cracking name,” correctly observes a Twitter correspondent, “Would make an excellent high-school superhero”. I concur (despite Hazard’s recent run-in with a ballboy), and would also suggest that the Chelsea and Belgium winger teams up in a superhero partnership with the ex-Swindon Town, Kilmarnock and St Johnstone player Danny Invincibile.

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‘Beastly fury and extreme violence’: Medieval Football (much like today, then)

An illustration of so-called "mob footbal...

An illustration of so-called "mob football", a variety of medieval football. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much as I love the Beautiful Game, I’d be the first to admit that football has been driving me to furious distraction recently – and that’s nothing to do with events on the pitch. The English game has shown its nastiest, most venal and bigoted side in recent seasons; with racism, sexual violence and abject greed rearing their ugly heads in a sport that really should, you would think, know so much better than all that.

However, it is true to say that, in many ways, the avarice, violence and high profile scandals of the modern game that most fans find so infuriating (to put it mildly) are nothing new. Football has long been a controversial sport, as the 16th century diplomat and scholar Sir Thomas Elyot rather sniffily observed in his 1531 educational treatise, The Boke Named The Governour:

Football, wherein is nothing but beastly fury and extreme violence, whereof proceedeth hurt, and consequently rancour and malice do remain with them that be wounded.

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Guest Post: So Long, Samba Soccer?

As today is World Cup Final day, I thought it was about time for something football-related on Another Kind Of Mind. I’ve also been wanting to put up some guest posts from bloggers I like and admire – so why not combine the two? This fascinating post on the history of the Brazilian national side in the World Cup and the decline of their style of ‘samba soccer’ is the first of these guest posts, and has been written exclusively for me by my old friend and fellow blogger Martin Marshall. So, thanks to Martin for this intriguing post and I hope you all enjoy reading!

So, the 2010 World Cup is almost over and we are guaranteed new winners. Very soon now either The Netherlands will no longer be the best team never to win the World Cup or Spain will complete the job they began two years ago in proving that they are no longer football’s great underachievers.

Football changes, it’s an evolving sport, affected by innovations in tactics, training, sports science and nutrition, not to mention the socio-economic factors of rising player wages and changing participation models. Yet our attitudes to football often struggle to keep up with the pace of change. Rooted in clichés and stereotypes, we continue to hold certain expectations long after it should have been obvious that they are unrealistic and when, inevitably, they go unfulfilled we remain perpetually surprised.

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The Never-Ending Tennis Match

Now, I’m old enough to remember tennis before the Williams sisters began to dominate the women’s game. I’m old enough to remember Andre Agassi’s shockingly long hair and cycle shorts (shocking for tennis anyway). Hell, I’m even old enough to remember John McEnroe’s on-court tantrums.

But, in all my years of watching Wimbledon, I can’t remember anything like the epic first round match between America’s John Isner and the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, which goes into its third day this afternoon. This seemingly never-ending match has been absolutely compelling viewing, and is breaking tennis records left, right and centre.

As of close of play last night, these were the record stats:

– Longest match in tennis history at 10 hours (the previous longest was 6 hours 33 minutes in the 2004 French Open)

– Most games at 163 (beating the record of 112 that has stood since Wimbledon 1969), with 118 of those in the fifth set so far.

– Longest final set at 7 hours 6 minutes, as of last night (this is already longer than the previous longest MATCH in its entirety!)

– Most aces served in one match and most aces served by one player (98 by Isner, closely followed by Mahut on 94).

– Both players have won only a single break point each, out of 877 total points played so far.

– Each player has burned approximately 6,900 calories so far (over three times the recommended calorie intake per day)

– Isner and Mahut even managed to break the scoreboard on court 18 and the Wimbledon website – the score was 59-59 and the board couldn’t cope with such unheard-of numbers (incidentally, I rather liked Charlie Brooker’s suggestion on Twitter that if they hit 60-all they should each take a shot of tequila before each serve!).

– The players must be exhausted, but it’s the BBC commentator Ronald McIntosh I really feel for. This epic match on court 18 was supposed to be a nice gentle one to ease McIntosh into his first ever TV commentary… but nobody could have predicted these events! Talk about a baptism of fire…

There are bound to be more unbelievable stats before the match finally ends – stay tuned for more slightly gobsmacking updates!

UPDATE: 16.51 – The match has finally ended! The eventual winner was John Isner, who won the final set 70-68 after a match that lasted eleven hours and five minutes and involved each player serving more than 100 aces. The All-England Club have given a special award to both players and to the umpire Mohamed Lahyani, in recognition of this remarkable match – and quite right too…

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