Wednesday, 29 July 2009

X-Fighters 2009

I love Speedway, Superbikes, the TT, the Tour de France, in fact most sports on two wheels. These guys take some beating for skill and sheer bottle:

Obscure Sports-Extreme Ironing

OK, I've known women get Coronation Street on to watch while ironing clothes but this really is extreme.

Extreme Ironing website.

We can only imagine not only the adrenalin rush, but the sense of satisfaction at that perfect crease!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Obscure Sports-Unicycle Hockey

Some years back I came across this sport and must track it down to watch a game. It is played in the UK and has its own world championship. If you are interested here is their website.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Manchester City Lose Again-Don't Laugh!

City fans have always scoffed at successful clubs for allegedly "buying" success. They also whine on and on about Manchester United supporters supposedly not coming from Manchester, which is obvious bollocks to anybody who grew up in Manchester.

How nice now then to see them squandering millions of quid given to them by "foreigners" from outside Manchester. The really nice thing though is that in true MCFC style, they are still getting beat:

A disputed goal saw Manchester City suffer a second defeat on their three-match tour of South Africa, beaten 1-0 by home side Kaizer Chiefs at Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Chiefs' midfielder Jeffrey Ntuka brought the ball under control with his hand before shooting home the winner from a corner in the 42nd minute of City's last match of their week-long visit.

Emmanuel Adebayor made his debut after signing from Arsenal and the Togolese international wasted a good chance to equalise, shooting over the top from close range in the 55th minute.

I know it's only a pre-season tour, but I wonder what the odds are on the "richest club in the world" being relegated at the end of the coming season?

Le Tour de France

Around 750,000 spectators were on Mont Ventoux to see the true heroes of the sporting world complete the penultimate stage of this year's Tour de France.

Contador has won the Tour but Armstrong remains third and Bradley Wiggins fourth overall. Who will join Contador on the podium in Paris tomorrow?

Le Tour de France Official Website

AS Roma-Fan Focus

Each Saturday as kick-off approaches there will be a focus on a real football fan. Here is the first ever, an AS Roma fan:

She is not an athlete, but she is tightly connected with the world of football, being one of the most famous supporters of the Italian football club AS Roma. Her devotion to the club is so big that in order to celebrate the 2001 Italian championship title, she performed a striptease in the middle of the stadium, to the delight of the present fans. Her sexy calender sold over one million copies, which is a record in Italy.

Sabrina, sei troppo bella!

Le Tour de France-Mont Ventoux

The day before Le Tour reaches Paris is usually a relatively gentle ride, not this year, this year the organisers have pulled off a masterstroke of torture. Today Le Tour takes in Mont Ventoux, one of the toughest climbs in cycling and the mountain where British rider Tommy Simpson collapsed and died in 1967.

So get all those odd jobs done for 1-00pm and watch the excellent live coverage on ITV4.

Priced out of Football

The following article, by David Conn, appeared in 2007 but is well worth looking at again:

Tom Woodhouse is 24 and loves his football. He reads about it, reels off player stats like a human Opta and rarely misses watching a big game in the pub with his mates. He never, though, goes to a live match. Tickets grew savagely expensive through his childhood, and his Dad took Tom and his brother Sam to rugby league instead. Tom went to the University of Central Lancashire, where Blackburn was the nearest Premier League club, but as a student Tom could not afford around £30 for a ticket. Neither he nor his mates ever developed the habit of going to games live.

"Now I'm working I could afford it," he says. "But if I have £30 to spare, I'd prefer maybe to do some sport myself, or have a night out, rather than spend it on watching 90 minutes of football."

In the recent, long-overdue criticism of the Premier League's wallet-screwing ticket prices, nobody pointed out its most obvious effect: a large proportion of those who cannot afford to go to matches are young. Before the rampant ticket inflation, young people crowded on to the terraces of the big clubs and became fans for life, but since the Premier League was formed in 1992, a large part of a generation has been priced out. Clubs have mostly offered concessions - still not cheap - for under-16s but above that they have charged full price. Few teenagers, students or young people in their first jobs can afford £30 a ticket, or £400 for a season ticket, even with some clubs' credit deals, at 19.9% APR.

According to the Premier League's most recent supporters' survey, last season just 9%, less than one in 10 supporters, was under 24. The average age of a Premier League fan was 43, part of the balding army who fell in love with football in the 1970s, then developed a supporting habit through the 1980s when it still cost £2 or £3 to get in.

The memory that terraces were packed with teenagers and young lads - not always, it has to be said, behaving impeccably - is supported by the limited statistics available from the time. In those earthier days, the Football League did not conduct surveys of those paying at the turnstiles and pouring in, but some clubs pondering commercial strategies did employ Leicester University's Sir Norman Chester Centre to do so. The surveys found that at Coventry City, then in the old First Division, in 1983, 22% of fans were aged 16-20. At Aston Villa as late as 1992, the survey found 25% of the crowd was 16-20, while at Arsenal, then League Champions, 17% of fans were 16-20.

The proportion of young people steadily reduced as prices went up after the Taylor Report recommended all-seater stadia in 1990, and the First Division clubs broke away from the other three divisions to form the Premier League two years later. In 1989-90, the average price to watch Manchester United was £4.71; it was £5.41 to go to Anfield, £6.71 to see George Graham's Arsenal. The lowest prices, to stand, were a good deal cheaper than that. Lord Justice Taylor called on the clubs not to use all-seater refurbishments as a reason to raise ticket prices, but although they were given up to £2m grants of public money to aid their rebuilding, the clubs all ignored his recommendation.

Clubs do not publish average ticket prices now, but, roughly, they have put the cost up by 600% since then, while, according to the Office for National Statistics, prices in general rose around 82% over the same period. At Manchester United, most tickets are between £30 and £37 now, Liverpool charge mostly £32 for category B games, £34 for category A, while Arsenal charge between £32 and £66 for category B games, £46 and £94 for category A. All three clubs make some half-price concession tickets available for young people but only until the age of 16.

The Premier League responds to the criticism that rising costs have priced people out by recalling that attendances were lower in the 1980s, when the game was blighted by hooliganism and the squalid state of some grounds. Total attendances are up 65% since 1992, with Manchester United's sell-out 76,000 crowds setting records. "The under-24s figure may be 9%," a Premier League spokesman said, "but it is 9% of higher crowds than before, so we don't know if there are fewer young people overall. Some clubs have reduced prices for next season and we have always encouraged clubs to have a range of prices."

Yet the Premier League's evidence does seem to back up the blindingly obvious at matches, that going to football is no longer a coming-of-age ritual for younger people. The Norman Chester Centre's surveys for the Premier League between 1994 and 2001 found the crowd was steadily ageing. Older fans were returning to the revitalised game while the loyal stayed with it, and paid the increases. A younger generation grew up watching the game in pubs.

John Williams, of Leicester University's renamed Centre for the Sociology of Sport, recalls the Premier League being attracted by US sport, and deliberately aiming for a well-off audience. "Crowd loyalty and numbers are greater now because of the Premier League's attractiveness," he says. "But clearly there are dramatically fewer young people. In the 1980s there was a problem with hooliganism partly because young people were there, they could afford to go. For all its problems, there was something socially healthy about football being an inclusive place where people from all backgrounds came together. Something really quite important has been lost."

The sports minister, Richard Caborn, agrees, saying that clubs' community work with disadvantaged young people is undermined by the fact that those same young people cannot afford to watch the clubs' matches. "If they are serious about social inclusion, the clubs have to make that link," he said.

The German Football Association (DFB) decided to allow standing - still a contentious issue here - partly to enable cheaper prices to be available for younger people. Top level Bundesliga games can be watched for as little as £6. "Football, being a people's sport, should not banish the socially disadvantaged from its stadia," the DFB said in a policy statement. "Football is culture. It involves the solidarity inspired by a sense of community. For young people, fan culture is an important factor in the development of their personality."

Steven Powell, of the Football Supporters Federation, which is running a petition for £15 as a fair price to watch football here, believes our clubs are storing up a problem for crowds' loyalty in the future: "Football will bitterly regret losing an entire generation. The clubs should have learned from North American sport about how to run a competitively balanced league, but they learned the wrong lesson. They put prices up, and ignored social inclusion. Our football administrators are obsessed with money above all else."


Le Tour de France-Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish is pure class. Yesterday he won a fifth stage to beat Barry Hoban's British record. Next year he will have that green jersey and hopefully will win in Paris tomorow. LINK TO FULL STORY

Le Tour de France Official Website

Miss Liverpool Speaks Out

"Me and me dad and me mam, who are me brother and sister too, are dead pleased Stevie B got off with twatting that fella. Sorry about that, I meant Stevie G, speling was never me strong point coz I concentrated on me glamour career rather than me 3Ds. I'm sick of Scousers being victimised, even by each other".

Friday, 24 July 2009

Ice Hockey-Not For Nancy Boys!

Some Women Should Be Allowed In Football Grounds!

Q: What's Unique About This Photograph?

A: It's a Scouser leaving court after being found NOT guilty.

They should have tried him in Manchester!


Welcome to This Sporting Life, a new blog looking at the world of sport from a purely personal perspective.

Over the coming months, maybe years, I intend to inform, chat and obsess about the sports that I follow. Sadly participation is now restricted to pottering about on my old Dutch bike.

Enjoy and please comment as you see fit, preferably politely.