Tag Archives: cacophony

Rafael Benitez buys ticket for conned Chelsea fan Harry Rennell

Benitez just the ticket for nine-year-old Chelsea fan conned by online tout

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UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 31 December 2012

The cacophony of boos that heralded the appearance of Rafa Benitez at Goodison Park would have you believe he is football’s equivalent of a pantomime villain.

Since replacing Roberto Di Matteo as manager, the Spaniard has struggled to win over a stubborn Chelsea support, unwilling to accept him or forgive and forget his days as their nemesis as Liverpool’s manager.

Yet in the eyes of Chelsea-mad nine-year-old Harry Rennell, Benitez is very much his hero this morning.

Conned: Tony Rennell (left) thought he had bought a ticket for the Boxing Day match between Norwich City and Chelsea for his nine-year-old son, Harry, only to discover he had been tricked out of 300 by a touting website

Conned: Tony Rennell (left) thought he had bought a ticket for the Boxing Day match between Norwich City and Chelsea for his nine-year-old son, Harry, only to discover he had been tricked out of 300 by a touting website

Surprise: Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez secured the Rennell's tickets for the Capital One Cup semi-final with Swansea on January 9 after reading about the story

Surprise: Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez secured the Rennell's tickets for the Capital One Cup semi-final with Swansea on January 9 after reading about the story

In a story that pulled heartstrings across the country, Harry’s father Tony wrote a cautionary tale in the Daily Mail last Friday of how he had been let down after ordering two tickets from Online Ticket Express for Chelsea’s game at Norwich City as a Christmas present.

Despite paying more than 300 for the tickets, they failed to arrive in the post, leaving Tony and his son despondent.

On reading the story, Benitez, himself the doting father of two girls, contacted Sportsmail and offered Harry and his father two tickets for Chelsea’s Capital One League Cup semi-final, first-leg tie against Swansea on January 9.

Harry’s delighted father Tony said: ‘Thank you, Rafa. There has been a very sympathetic response.

‘One Chelsea fan has invited us to go as his guest to the QPR game on Wednesday, and we’ll be there to cheer them on.

Stocking filler: Mr Rennell had wanted to surprise his Chelsea-mad son for Christmas and paid website Online Ticket Express over 300 for them

Stocking filler: Mr Rennell had wanted to surprise his Chelsea-mad son for Christmas and paid website Online Ticket Express over 300 for them

‘What is great is that nine year-old Harry now knows that, although some people may let us down in life, there are always others who will step forward to do the right thing.’

Doing the right thing may soften some Chelsea supporters’ view of their interim manager, but it’s not the first example of kind-hearted Benitez showing the grander side of football.

Hearing a pensioner had been mugged on the Wirral, then Liverpool manager Benitez made sure the elderly fan and his family were guests at Anfield.

On his departure from Liverpool, the 52-year-old gave a ‘substantial five-figure sum’ to the parents of Rhys Jones, the young Everton fan who was shot dead as he returned from football training in August 2007.

Disappointed: Harry was let down but will now get to watch his heroes in action next week

Disappointed: Harry was let down but will now get to watch his heroes in action next week

At the time, Benitez said: ‘I am doing this on behalf of the people that cannot. I know that every person on Merseyside would have loved to give the fund a donation, but they are in hard times and can’t find the extra cash.’

Benitez donated 96,000 to the Hillsborough Memorial Fund and gave a further 2,800 to aid running costs through his wife Montse’s foundation.

Whatever he does from now on, Benitez may always be the villain to some, but at least his gesture is just the ticket for Harry Rennell.

Chris Robshaw gains redemption

Robshaw's redemption as England's skipper hits back and becomes Captain Fantastic

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UPDATED:

21:58 GMT, 1 December 2012

Chris Robshaw ended the most demanding week of his rugby career by becoming only the sixth England captain to lead his country to a win over New Zealand.

And if he woke up last Sunday in turmoil, he will wake up today with a mixture of disbelief and sheer, unadulterated joy.

The prize guys: Chris Ashton shows just what scoring against New Zealand meant

The prize guys: Chris Ashton shows
just what scoring against New Zealand meant

England's 38-21 win over the world champions was as emphatic as the scoreline suggests and while Robshaw left the Twickenham field just seven days ago with the sound of jeers ringing in his battered ears, he marched off the same pitch last night to a cacophony of cheers.

Silverware: Chris Robshaw leads the celebrations as he lifts the Hillary Shield - the first England skipper to do so

Silverware: Chris Robshaw leads the celebrations as he lifts the Hillary Shield – the first England skipper to do so

How the heroes rated

Alex Goode 8

Another composed display. Rock solid under the high ball and made several telling breaks.

Chris Ashton

Chris Ashton

Chris Ashton 6

After poor first half, broke try drought with barnstorming score – though he risked Stuart Lancaster's fury with showboating celebration.

Manu Tuilagi 9

Went head-to-head with Ma'a Nonu and came out on top. Defensively superb. Destructive in attack. World-class.

Brad Barritt 7

Sharp second-half break led to him scoring England's first try. Typically strong to subdue New Zealand's vaunted midfield.

Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Mike Brown 8

Superb performance full of jinking running and powerful kicking. Perhaps lacks a yard of pace cleverly ran his lines.

Owen Farrell 9

Came into the game under pressure but Toby Flood's replacement again showed his temperament is first class.

Ben Youngs 7

Influential. Came into the game more and more as it went on and made several telling breaks. Bossed his forwards brilliantly.

Alex Corbisiero 8

A superb scrummaging performance. string of powerful drives that dented the hugely consistent All Blacks defence.

Tom Youngs 7

Young Leicester hooker held his nerve despite pressure. A few creaking throw-ins but not a bad day's shift.

Tom Youngs and Dan Cole

Tom Youngs and Dan Cole

Dan Cole 8

Pack stalwart rarely has an off day. Unusually conspicuous at the break down without forgetting to do the basics.

Joe Launchbury 9

Another superb display that belied his lack of big-match experience. The young Wasp showed he surely has a magnificent international career ahead of him, often putting his body on the line.

Geoff Parling 7

Understated but hugely effective. Was tireless in the loose to ensure quick ball at the breakdown.

Tom Wood

Tom Wood

Tom Wood 9

Has returned from injury and shown what England were missing. Yesterday his breakdown work was almost as good as his tackling.

Chris Robshaw 8

The England captain came into the game under intense pressure following last week's chaotic finish. Showed enormous character.

Ben Morgan 7

Not quite as prominent in the loose as he would have liked but still put in a decent shift. Has a long future ahead of him and surely has the edge over Thomas Waldrom.

It has been, even by sport's absurd standards, a dramatic road to redemption from Springbok misery to All Black joy.

His much-debated decision to ask Owen Farrell to kick a penalty when four points down with two minutes remaining last week against South Africa was roundly condemned, as was Farrell's very public and timecostly argument with his captain.

It was not the sole reason for England's one-point defeat, but it was an unfortunate end to an unfortunate result.

His week hardly improved when Warren Gatland suggested that Robshaw was not first in his thoughts for next summer's Lions tour to Australia.

After Saturday, Robshaw may not just be playing in the back row for head coach Gatland, he could be his captain.

The relief was etched on Robshaw's face – and there was anger over the treatment England received after the South Africa defeat.

'My confidence was high,' he insisted. 'My phone has been ringing all week with support. It was a case of going out there and playing as well as I could.

'I think we delivered the critics the best possible response. The crowd were fantastic and to score the number of tries we did was brilliant. That game rates as the best I've ever played in. Everyone who pulled on the England shirt today wanted to prove a few people wrong and we did just that.

'We went into the game with a bit of anger. They hadn't given us a chance all week, had they Some people were wondering how much New Zealand would beat us by. Andy Farrell had said New Zealand were beatable during the week.

'We came out to prove him right. Everyone was outstanding today.'

Indeed they were and such was the significance of England's record win that even New Zealand were insisting England could go on and win the 2015 World Cup, regardless of their fifth seeding for Monday's group draw.

'There were two sides out there today who can definitely win the World Cup,' stated All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

'We have no excuses. We were beaten by the better team. This is a very good England side.'

Richie McCaw sat beside him and nodded his head.

'There's no doubt about the talent in the England team,' said New Zealand's captain.

'With experience they'll get better and better. I was very impressed with them. Can they go on and win the World Cup They'll be a big threat.'

The England management had been promising this kind of performance all autumn.

After a woeful defeat against Australia and then a loss against a South Africa team they should have beaten, the least likely team to finally come good against was New Zealand.

But England came good in a way few, if any, could have predicted, except of course Stuart Lancaster and his coaches.

'I'm very proud,' said the England head coach.

'To get a scoreline like that is testament to the coaches and the players. The win is reward for the effort we've put in and it shows the rugby public that this journey is the right one. A lot of our guys are 23 years of age and under.

'They should be playing for England for many, many years. There will come the day when this England team will be sporting 800 caps between them.'

Robshaw would be forgiven for basking in personal acclaim, but the England captain was instead reminding his players in a team huddle after the final whistle that they had to reproduce this level of performance in the 2013 Six Nations.

If England do that, then Lancaster's men, led by the comeback captain, will take some stopping.

London 2012 Olympics: Big Front too much for Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield

The Big Front was just too much for Tom and Pete

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UPDATED:

21:29 GMT, 30 July 2012

Olympics 2012

As always, it’s the hope that kills you. So it was at the Aquatics Centre on Monday when Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield were dominating the might of China.

For a few ecstatic minutes we dared to dream. Those first three dives on their list of six barely caused a ripple in the water. They caused a cacophony in the stands.

So near yet so far: Daley and Waterfield missed out on a medal

So near yet so far: Daley and Waterfield missed out on a medal

But they missed out on a medal because the glue came unstuck on their fourth dive – the so-called Big Front. Daley slightly under-rotated and Waterfield clearly over-rotated. They slipped from first place to fourth. It was a position from which they never budged, behind China, Mexico and America.

Waterfield said: ‘After that fourth dive I actually said sorry to Tom. He just said, “Don’t worry. We’ve got a big dive coming up”.’

My view, having watched the pair prepare for the Olympics over the last two years, is that the Big Front turned out to be too much of gamble. They step up to the 10 metres fearful of it (hardly surprising to us vertigo-challenged mortals when you consider it is a forward four-and-a-half somersault with tuck – a fly-by-the-seats-of-your-Speedos dive).

The reason they do it is because in diving the degree of difficulty is factored into the score. It is a winner when executed successfully.

Alexei Evangulov, the performance
director, was greeted by blank faces when he suggested the pair should
add the Big Front to their list. ‘It was mad,’ said Daley, who thought
it literally impossible to accomplish.

Out of sync: The Big Front was just too much for the British pair

Out of sync: The Big Front was just too much for the British pair

‘No,’ countered Evangulov, a former Russian champion. ‘I am telling you the world of diving is moving on and we cannot stay in our comfort zone. Look at the Chinese.’

Yes, the Chinese divers are setting new standards. They are bred in sports schools – funded automatons. But on Monday their gold medal pair, Yuan Cao and Yanquan Zhang, did not do the Big Front.

They instead performed clinically brilliant dives of almost similar difficulty and won the prize they all wanted. They were under pressure and did not flinch. Daley and Waterfield did. It was the opposite of what Daley had predicted.

In truth, despite the public profile
that has given Daley nearly half a million Twitter followers, a bronze
medal was all that could realistically be expected of them here. The
form book suggested as much. As for the gold, apart from the
expectations being briefly raised, it always belonged to a one-nation
fiefdom. Once the diving was over, the synchronisation was exemplary as
Daley and Waterfield faced the media with perfect choreography.

Exemplary: Both divers were disappointed and humble when they met the media

Exemplary: Both divers were disappointed and humble when they met the media

In Beijing four years ago, Daley and his ex-partner Blake Aldridge arrived apart, one after the other. Aldridge had unbelievably phoned his mum mid-competition then blamed a 14-year-old Daley in the post-competition analysis.

This time the two men both said: ‘We are a team. We win together and lose together. Full stop.’ Daley, 18, added: ‘Gutted. So sorry everyone but we tried our best.

‘Our first two dives were the best of the competition and then the third dive was one of our best as well, so after three dives we were on the highest score we’ve ever got.

‘But then on the fourth dive we missed and in this level and in this field you can’t afford to miss any dives.

‘The
home crowd did really lift us after that dive – but if we had got nine
points more on our reverse three-and-a-half, which normally we would do,
then we would have been on that podium.’

Full support: Fans in Plymouth cheer on Daley and Waterfield

Full support: Fans in Plymouth cheer on Daley and Waterfield

Waterfield added: ‘It’s the worst place to finish at the Olympics. I would have rather finished last.’

Daley met defeat with exemplary good grace – unlike a Twitter troll who tweeted that he had let down his late father, Rob. I heard Tom deliver the eulogy at the funeral 15 months ago. There was no public sobbing, just a well-measured speech of affection that stopped short of mawkishness.

If you experience a terrible setback like that, losing the man who was your biggest supporter and jokingly referred to himself as taxi driver dad, sport finds its rightful place. It is not life and death.

The hope now is that Tom can spring one of the shocks of the Games by beating the world’s greatest diver, Qiu Bo, in the individual 10 metres platform on Saturday week.

The great American writer Norman Mailer once said of Muhammad Ali: ‘What is genius but balance on the edge of the impossible’ It is with that thought we wonder if young Tom can deliver the final, perfect tribute to his dad.