Tag Archives: diary

Robin van Persie in Arsenal 2013 diary: Gunners fans fume

So what is Van Persie doing in Arsenal's official 2013 diary Fans see red over former striker's appearance

summer transfer window,’ said a spokesperson from stationary specialists Danilo, who make the diary.

Despite complaints, the diary is still available for 5 on the club website.

Luis Suarez is arrogant, big mouthed and a diver… I want to knock him out, blasts Ashley Williams

Suarez is arrogant, big-mouth, diver… I want to knock him out, blasts Williams

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UPDATED:

15:02 GMT, 21 November 2012

Martin Samuel on bogeyman Suarez

'Suarez is poetry in motion… but can he really be Player of the Year'

Swansea defender Ashley Williams has launched an extraordinary attack
on Luis Suarez, accusing the Liverpool forward of being a serial cheat
and admitting he was so riled by the Uruguayan in one game last season
that he wanted to 'knock him out'.

Writing in his book My Premier League Diary, which went on sale on
Tuesday, Williams claimed Suarez dived more than any other player he has
faced and went on to slam his 'superior' manner on the pitch.

No love lost: Swansea's Ashley Williams (left) and Luis Suarez of Liverpool

No love lost: Swansea's Ashley Williams (left) and Luis Suarez of Liverpool

The comments will be particularly inflammatory as Swansea host Liverpool on Sunday, a fixture that marks Brendan Rodgers first competitive return to the Liberty Stadium since leaving for Anfield in the summer.

Referring to Swansea's 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield last November, Williams wrote: 'Suarez has that aura about him that says, “I'm untouchable”, and his manner and behaviour made me want to knock him out.

'I'd go as far as to say that the manner in which he approached the game, with utter contempt for us all, means that he's streets ahead of any player I've truly disliked since we've been in the Premier League.

Stick with you: Suarez (left) and Steven Gerrard in training

Staying close: Suarez (left) and Steven Gerrard in training

Hard work: Suarez takes a breather during training

Hard work: Suarez takes a breather during training

'He dived more than any other player I've played against before – it was so bad I was genuinely shocked.

'Throughout the game, he just dived down and screamed at any given moment.

'Now, obviously, diving has crept into the game more and more in recent years and, as a defender, you have to be aware of it.

At the races: Suarez takes on Glen Johnson

At the races: Suarez takes on Glen Johnson

At the races: Suarez takes on Glen Johnson

'But even the players you know that like a dive at least wait until there is some sort of challenge or contact. Not Suarez.

'A couple of times I'd hear the
scream, see him writhing on the floor and for the life of me couldn't
see where the contact could have been.'

Ironically, the book was sanctioned by Liverpool manager Rodgers during his reign at Swansea.

A later passage focuses on Swansea's 1-0 win in the return fixture with
Liverpool in May – Rodgers last game in charge – during which Williams
confronted Suarez.

Fall guy: Suarez has been accused of diving by players and managers

Fall guy: Suarez has been accused of diving by players and managers

Nice touch: Suarez celebrates goal in derby by diving in front of Everton bench

Nice touch: Suarez celebrates goal in derby by diving in front of Everton bench

Williams added: 'They won a corner, and I appealed to the ref to say
that it had come off him last. He said something to me with a bit of a
snarl, so I just told him to shut his mouth.

'I don't like the superior manner he brings on the field with him.

'Basically I have no time for the guy at all.'

Swansea refused to comment.

Cancer survivors won"t care if Lance Armstrong was cheating – Des Kelly

Survivors won't care if Lance was cheating during his seven Tour victories

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UPDATED:

00:10 GMT, 25 August 2012

For a man like Lance Armstrong to
quit is unthinkable. He has fought against the ravages of cancer. He
fought against what seemed a certain death. He fought to reach the
pinnacle of his sport.

Now, with his reputation, his name and his place in history at stake, we're supposed to accept he was too weary to battle on

Faced by a scattergun attack of drug
allegations from the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Armstrong decided
he would no longer defend himself. The man who became the living
embodiment of the phrase 'never say die' and the all-conquering power of
the human spirit just quit.

Winner: Armstrong's achievements given his battle with cancer remains inspiring

Winner: Armstrong's achievements given his battle with cancer remains inspiring

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In doing so, he effectively surrendered his seven Tour de France titles and everything he stood for.

'There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, “Enough is enough”,' he said. 'For me that time is now.'

Armstrong knows what the majority will think. They will assume he dodged allegations that he systematically doped throughout his career. They will see it as an admission of guilt. It's certainly a leap of faith to assume otherwise.

The idea a man as proud as he is could let the essence of his being be destroyed without attempting to stave off those attacks on his integrity is almost ridiculous. Armstrong was never known to have failed any of his 500 or more drug tests. He insists the idea he doped is 'nonsense'.

But the USADA promised previously convicted dopers an amnesty if they testified against Armstrong.

They were spoilt for choice, too. Look at a list of riders who finished in the top five of every Tour de France won by the American between 1999 and 2005 and it is remarkable that only two – yes, TWO – were not banned for a drugs offence or implicated in a doping scandal.

So are we to believe Armstrong was
somehow the paragon of virtue in the corrupt peloton He cannot be
damned by association alone. If that were the case, every politician
would be an expenses fiddler, every journalist a phone-hacker, every
policeman would be on the take and every football fan would be a
hooligan.

But it is an extraordinary statistic, one that must not be blithely waved away now he has declined to face his accusers head on.

One of his quotes certainly struck me as odd. He said: 'I
know who won those seven Tours, my team-mates know who won those seven
Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours.'

Fight of his life: After beating cancer, Armstrong went on to win seven Tour de France titles

Fight of his life: After beating cancer, Armstrong went on to win seven Tour de France titles

Fight of his life: After beating cancer, Armstrong went on to win seven Tour de France titles

Maybe that was Armstrong saying he was no worse than the rest of them
Maybe he was saying he was the outstanding rider, regardless, because
they all competed on equally grubby terms

Team-mates, fellow riders and managers were certainly in line to say so,
claiming Armstrong was an integral part of a grand drugs conspiracy.

But the man from Austin, Texas, had sold himself on the idea he was
better than the rest; he was 'clean'. When the credibility of that claim
was to be tested to breaking point, he duly snapped. Now we are left
asking what is the most important aspect of this tale Did Armstrong
fool us all Probably.

But there is another side worth remembering. Whatever he did (or didn't)
take, Armstrong helped many hundreds of thousands of cancer sufferers
through his Livestrong charity.

They followed the saga of how testicular cancer spread to his liver,
tumours were cut out of his brain and he then endured the devastation of
radiotherapy or chemotherapy, only to literally climb back on his bike
and rebuild his life. It was a message seized upon by others searching desperately for hope.

Des Kelly on Twitter

Follow Des here: @DesKellyDM

A friend of mine works for Livestrong in the USA and I asked for some
of the programme's unheard stories. A few personal letters were emailed
to me (not PR puff). They were tough reading, but they all
rang out as a testament to the power of the human will.

One said: 'Not
all cancer miracles occur in the operating room. Three months ago I was
a shadow of the person I had been. Cancer had not only robbed my
physical identity, I was broken in ways that neither doctors, nor
friends, nor family could repair.

'Most of us don't expect to come out the other side of cancer. And,
sadly, not all of us will. But Live-strong showed me that despite
every-thing we go through and everything lost, we are stronger than we
think and we each have a lot more fight left in us than we realise.'

Other letters echoed the same message. Whatever really happened on
those Tours, one truth is that Armstrong inspired people to get off
their sickbed and actively fight against their illness through exercise.
He gave them some of their dignity back. He gave them some courage.

Was it all built on a lie Perhaps. Maybe most of the cyclists in that
era were drug cheats. But only one of them set about doing something to
change people's lives.

And do you know what I doubt many of those cancer survivors care too much about how he went about it.

Inspiration: The American cyclist gave hope to thousands of cancer sufferers around the world through his sporting exploits

Inspiration: The American cyclist gave hope to thousands of cancer sufferers around the world through his sporting exploits

Bin this joke of a tapping-up rule

There are archaic laws that survive on the statute books even though they are next to worthless.

For instance, did you know it is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament Needless to say, this crime has always been punished by the full weight of the legal process, with any deceased MP certain to receive a death sentence.

And have you completed your mandatory two hours of weekly longbow practice under the supervision of the local clergy If not, you're breaking the law and betraying that London 2012 'legacy'.

Equally, there are outdated 'crimes' that sit on the football statute books despite being essentially irrelevant. Top of the list of redundant regulation is the charge of 'tapping up'.

This is the term used for an approach made to any player under contract to another club, one levelled at Liverpool by Fulham this week over their pursuit of striker Clint Dempsey.

There was probably a time when this rule served some purpose. I imagine it was when people searched for a holiday on Ceefax and clubs communicated by that long-forgotten method known as 'posting a letter'.

But in an age of mobiles, texts, tweets, emails, Skype, instant messaging and transfer updates from that Scottish bloke on Sky Sports News, everyone is in touch with everyone else and trying to enforce a bar on routine communication seems futile.

What's going on Jol has conceded Dempsey wants out of Craven Cottage

What's going on Jol has conceded Dempsey wants out of Craven Cottage

What's going on Jol has conceded Dempsey wants out of Craven Cottage

Fulham's complaint is that Anfield manager Brendan Rodgers mentioned
that Liverpool enquired about the availability of the American forward.
This followed one of those customary website foul-ups whereby Dempsey's
picture suddenly appeared on the website run by Liverpool's owners, the
Fenway Sports Group, before being hurriedly taken down.

Rodgers tried to explain this, saying: 'Clint is a player we've enquired
about, it is as simple as that. Ian Ayre, our managing director, has
spoken with the club to see what the position is. That is where we are.'

As far as I can make out, Rodgers's 'crime' appears to have been
candour. Is anyone seriously going to try to argue that Liverpool's
interest was a secret until this point Are we meant to believe that
Dempsey swooned in surprise when his name cropped up in a press
conference

The idea that his agent, his agent's friends, some staff at either club,
a secretary, a couple of club executives, the bloke who valets
Dempsey's car, Dempsey's wife, her hairdresser, her hairdresser's
boyfriend, and, eventually, a few newspaper reporters, weren't in on the
possibility of a deal is daft. The facts as we have them are that
Liverpool made an unofficial enquiry for the player last month and
Dempsey has been left out of the squad ever since.

At first, Dempsey was accused of refusing to play in the opening game of the season. He was condemned for 'going on strike'.

Fulham manager Martin Jol belatedly moved to clarify the situation five
days later. 'I never said he had gone on strike,' he insisted. 'It
started during our pre-season tour to Germany. I was probably a bit
naive asking Clint, “Do you want to start” All he said was, “You know
what I want”. After that it was very difficult to communicate.'

Bizarrely, Jol held up Robin van Persie as an example of how a player should conduct himself in these situations.
'There are always players like Van Persie who want to move, but they
keep quiet. This was different,' he claimed. 'Van Persie did the right
thing.'

Why, of course he did, if we ignore his release of a statement slating
his employer's lack of ambition, effectively trashing the manager he had
been with for eight years in the process. Aside from that, Van Persie
was the model of restraint.

On the move Dempsey hasn't featured for the Cottagers since Liverpool made an unofficial enquiry

On the move Dempsey hasn't featured for the Cottagers since Liverpool made an unofficial enquiry

If Jol is this confused about the principles of how a player should
behave, it makes me wonder on what principle this official complaint has
been lodged

Tellingly, the Fulham boss added: 'It would have been better had Liverpool followed it up with a formal bid, but they haven't.'

And there you have it. Fulham have lodged a complaint because
Liverpool's informal offer was not enough and they haven't slapped hard
cash on the table.

They are right to be irritated that one of their star players is unsettled. But let's not pretend it is a matter of principle.
There isn't a manager, football director, owner, coach, chief executive,
agent or journalist who hasn't at some point discussed the possibility
of Player A moving to Club B. It's a joke to even try to legislate
against that.

Right now, the Premier League will leave this formal protest in their
'pending' tray gathering dust. They appreciate if Liverpool edge closer
to Fulham's asking price, the player will move and the complaint will be
dropped in the bin – which is where this unworkable 'tapping up' rule
should be.

Moving on: Fulham are waiting for Liverpool to move closer to their asking price for Dempsey

Moving on: Fulham are waiting for Liverpool to move closer to their asking price for Dempsey

London 2012 Olympics: Beach volleyball crowd need drug testing – Des Kelly

Olympic diary: Drug testing needed for hyperactive beach volleyball crowd

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 29 July 2012

What the sport of beach volleyball needs to introduce if it wants credibility is a vigorous programme of drug testing. Not for the competitors, but for everyone else in the stadium.

I went along to the magnificent Horse Guards’ Parade location half expecting the audience to be dotted with potential candidates for the sex offenders’ register, wearing bottle- bottom glasses and with anoraks on their laps.

Instead, I found a wild-eyed crowd behaving as if they had simultaneously overdosed on E-numbers, caffeine, anti-depressants, beer and more beer.

Spectacle: Dancers perform in the stands during a beach volleyball match

Spectacle: Dancers perform in the stands during a beach volleyball match

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There is no doubt, if you want noisy, almost inexplicable levels of happy-clappy glee from a paying public then this is the place to be. When the British teams were on court this weekend, the place was a permanent Mexican wave. At times it made darts night at Alexandra Palace look serene.

But beach volleyball should really be classified as an endurance event, since the main challenge is to endure the endless SHOUTING from the stadium announcers.

Even when a point is being played the people on the public address seem to regard this as an unwelcome interruption in the true business of the day —which is listening to them yell at eardrum bursting volume.

The male announcer bellows: ‘LONDON! ARE YOU READY’

Crowd: ‘Yay!’

Announcer: ‘I CAN’T HEAR YOU! LONDON, ARRRRE YOOO READY’

This happens approximately every minute, so I assume the announcer is only unable to hear because he is deaf from his own shouting. But I am certainly ‘ready’. Ready to rip the PA man’s larynx out with my bare hands and feed it to the swans on the nearby Serpentine.

Incredibly, the female co-announcer is worse. Between points someone called ‘Charlie’ shrieks about ‘TEEEM GEEE BEEE’ with a dead-eyed smile that suggests an inner loathing, before trying to coerce the crowd to start a conga. But they are far too busy doing their endless Mexican Wave.

With the Benny Hill theme playing and young dancers writhing up on the sidelines, the whole beach scene resembles a nightmare spin off of ‘Take Me Out’ on ITV2. And when the PA man encourages the crowd to ‘Get the clap going’, I wondered if Paddy McGuinness had missed his true vocation.

But rather than storm the commentary
booth and beat the announcers to death, the crowd buy into this,
possibly because they know it will be the only time they will experience
the ‘sport’, or because they are all drugged up on Nurofen. Either way,
they cheer absolutely everything.

Best of British: Zara Dampney (left) and Shauna Mullin got the host nation off to a good start

Best of British: Zara Dampney (left) and Shauna Mullin got the host nation off to a good start

Announcer: ‘Let’s hear it for THE FIRST OFFICIAL!’

Crowd: ‘Yay.’

Announcer: ‘Here come the GUYS THAT RAKE THE SAND!’

Crowd: ‘Yay.’

Announcer: ‘LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE RAKE!’

The game itself doesn’t need the forced ‘atmosphere’. Although it remains ludicrous that this is an Olympic sport rather than some Californian holiday activity, beach volleyball can be entertaining.

The men’s game is more athletic and competitive than the women’s. And although the Team GB — sorry, TEEEM GEEE BEEE! — duo of John Garcia Thompson and Steve Grotowski lost to Canada, the din was such it was almost possible to ignore the fact that Britain’s men had just been defeated at a beach sport by a nation that mostly consists of glacial ice sheets.

They were even times in the first set when GB looked like they had a shout. It was just never as loud as the announcer’s.

The men are rarely mentioned because the women wear bikinis and that’s all anyone appears to care about. I might find that exciting, too. But not right now. I’m afraid I have a headache.

LYCRA LADS' NEW RECRUIT

Mark Cavendish might have failed to deliver gold on Saturday, but Lizzie Armitstead brought home silver 24 hours later to ensure the country’s love affair with two-wheels will continue to grow.

Some estimates claim the number of people cycling in London is up by 150 per cent since 2002. But is the host city of the 2012 Games genuinely ‘cycle friendly’

The best way to find out was to climb on a ‘Boris Bike’ and ride from east London to the road race
finish on The Mall. So I pulled on some unnervingly tight cycling shorts, a Team GB shirt and a
cycle helmet. Improved aerodynamics boost speed, which is why you never see a hairy Formula One car, but I drew the line at shaving my legs to reduce wind resistance like the professionals.

Contrasting fortunes: Mark Cavendish was out of luck (above) but Lizzie Armitstead won silver (below)

Contrasting fortunes: Mark Cavendish was out of luck (above) but Lizzie Armitstead won silver (below)

Britain's Elizabeth Armitstead holds her silver medal during the victory ceremony for the women's cycling road race

I can only assume this body hair explains why I was unbelievably slow. Or it could have been the
Boris bike, a brilliant innovation that you can hire for 1 a day from docking stations all over
the capital. But to ensure the contraptions are never stolen, they have been made entirely of lead and weigh more than a steam locomotive.

Inconveniently, there are no bike docking stations near the Olympic Stadium. Probably because the bank that sponsors the scheme are not part of the Olympic ‘family’.

I rode in from nearby Victoria Park instead, taking in the sights, carbon monoxide, choking black diesel fumes and dodging vans when a bus wasn’t inches from my rear mudguard.

On the way, I was pleased to note New Cavendish Street has a cycle lane and a specialist shop. And I can confirm London is getting better for bikes. It truly is a cycling city when the centre of the city is closed off entirely for the Olympics.

DAILY X-RAY

My five-inch replica of the Big Ben clock tower makes it through the scanners. This pointy souvenir could be used to poke politicians out of glad-handing photographs with any British medal winner.

Long wait: The media queue to get through security at the Olympics

Long wait: The media queue to get through security at the Olympics

DAILY MOAN

Beach volleyball players say squirrels are causing problems by burying acorns in the sand at Horse Guards Parade. They should give thanks they aren’t playing on an actual beach near London. The dogs bury far worse at Southend. Then they’d have a real problem.