Tag Archives: eighties

Greg Dyke announced as new FA Chairman

Former Man United director Dyke voted as new FA chairman, replacing outgoing Bernstein

By
Charles Sale

PUBLISHED:

11:30 GMT, 21 March 2013

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UPDATED:

11:54 GMT, 21 March 2013

Former Manchester United director and TV mogul Greg Dyke has been voted through as the next FA chairman, replacing the outgoing incumbent David Bernstein.

Dyke, 65, will replace Bernstein when he leaves the post after two-and-a-half years in July – and takes the helm from Saturday July 13.

Dyke told the FA website: 'Football has always been a big part of my life whether playing 11-a-side on Sunday mornings or six-a-side on Thursday evenings.

Main man: Former United director Dyke will take the helm at the FA

Main man: Former United director Dyke will take the helm at the FA

'I was brought up in a household where my father was much more interested in whether or not you had won at football than whether you had passed your exams. In my case that was just as well.

'I still turn out to play six-a-side some Thursday evenings although at my age I seem to spend more time injured than playing.

'I supported my local team Brentford as a kid where my elder brother was a junior, watched York City while at university and followed Manchester United whenever I could.

'I got involved in how the game was run
when I was first involved in buying sports rights as Chairman of ITV
Sport in the late eighties and later at the BBC.

Game over: Bernstein's (left) tenure at the FA will soon come to an end

Game over: Bernstein's (left) tenure at the FA will soon come to an end

'I learnt a lot in the years when I was on the Board of Manchester United and have seen the other side of the professional game at Brentford.'

The FA said in a statement: 'The Football Association Board has today unanimously approved the nomination for Greg Dyke to be appointed independent FA chairman.

'Dyke, 65, will take over as chairman from David Bernstein when he leaves the post after two-and-a-half years in July – subject to approval by the FA council. The appointment will take effect from Saturday, July 13.

Football man: Dyke's local team while growing up was Brentford

Football man: Dyke's local team while growing up was Brentford – where he became non-executive chairman in 2006

Football man: Dyke's local team while growing up was Brentford

'This follows a recruitment process led
by FA independent director Roger Devlin (chairman of the nominations
committee) with fellow board members Roger Burden and Keith Lamb.

'In a high-profile broadcasting industry career, Dyke has worked as director general of the BBC and managing director of London Weekend Television.

'Dyke has had a long background in football. He was a director of Manchester United in the late nineties and since 2006 he has been non-executive chairman of Brentford Football Club, the team he supported as a boy. He will relinquish this role at the end of the season to take up his new post at the FA.'

Red alert: United director Gill (seen with Dyke) is also on the FA board

Red alert: United director Gill (seen with Dyke) is also on the FA board

England purple rugby kit set for the dustbin as RFU ponder banning change strips

England's controversial purple kit set for the dustbin as RFU ponder banning change strips

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UPDATED:

10:52 GMT, 5 December 2012

The RFU are considering banning the controversial change strips worn by England for the autumn internationals including the garish purple shirts in which the side were beaten by Australia at Twickenham.

From the charcoal grey anthracite to the divisive black shirt at the World Cup, for each one of the past five seasons England have released a coloured ‘change’ shirt and worn it for at least one Test match to exploit commercial opportunities.

Although the kits are on sale at Twickenham on the day they are worn, and throughout the autumn, many of the change designs haven’t sold as expected. A red-and-white version – a design apparently inspired by the St George’s flag- was first introduced in 2008, then it was that horrible purple shirt against Argentina a year later, in which England played terribly.

What were they thinking England lost to Australia in this purple kit last month

What were they thinking England lost to Australia in this purple kit last month

Chris Ashton’s brilliant ‘try of the century’ against the Wallabies two years ago was marred only by the sight of his famous Swan dive in a dank grey ‘anthracite’ shirt.

Last month they played Australia again in a bright purple that supposedly harked back to the anthem jackets worn by England in the Seventies and Eighties. The team were defeated and the shirt – which looked just like an Arsenal away shirt from a few season ago – took the brunt of the blame, adding to the condemnation.

The only team in Test rugby against whom England would have to wear anything but their all-white home shirt is against Fiji. But absurdly, on November 10 it was Fiji who switched to blue.

Asked about the controversial change strips, RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie told the Times: ‘You always look at it. I’m quite happy to say one was surprised by the strength of feeling (about the purple shirt worn against Australia) and that it was correlated to the performance.

‘I don’t remember reading huge criticism for the last five years about a change of shirt. All of us look at these things and review it. How do we deal with the atmosphere Of course we look at all those things and it’s right to do that.’

And who remembers these horror kits

England v Argentina, 2009

Purple patch: Ugo Monye is sent flying in another England horror kit in 2009

Purple patch: Ugo Monye is sent flying in another England horror kit in 2009

England v Australia, 2010

Tryu of the century: But Chris Ashton's effort was scored in this grey monstrosity

Tryu of the century: But Chris Ashton's effort was scored in this grey monstrosity

England v Argentina, World Cup 2011

Black Saturday: Jonny Wilkinson wears this dark number against Argentina

Black Saturday: Jonny Wilkinson wears this dark number against Argentina

Celtic beat Barcelona: Hoops may be having a Barca ball but they"ve got nothing on our 140-year history, says Rangers hero Sandy Jardine

Celtic may be having a Barca ball but they've got nothing on our 140-year history, says Rangers hero Sandy Jardine

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UPDATED:

12:07 GMT, 8 November 2012


Rangers legend: Sandy Jardine has rained slightly on Celtic's parade

Rangers legend: Sandy Jardine has rained slightly on Celtic's parade

Celtic are still celebrating one of the finest victories in their history after beating mighty Barcelona last night, but one Rangers legend still cannot help having a pop at their great rivals.

Sandy Jardine, a former Ibrox full back who works for the Ibrox club, said: 'I noticed Celtic are celebrating 125 years. They are a fantastic club but – maybe I’m biased – they don’t come anywhere near what we’ve done in 140 years when you look back through our history.

'So it’s only right we should recognise our history and celebrate it, [particularly] now the club is on its way to getting back on its feet.'

Jardine was speaking at the launch of Rangers’ 140th anniversary celebrations. He added: 'It’s about surviving and celebrating.'

The remarks were made in the context of
the Old Firm rivalry, although Celtic supporters would point to being
the first British club to win the European Cup in 1967 in the same way
that Rangers fans would point to their club having won a world record 54
league titles. The competitive instincts are relentless, even while the
Blue side of Glasgow are languishing in the Third Division.

Cock-a-Hoop: Celtic's Victor Wanyama celebrates scoring the first goal as Celtic beat mighty Barcelona 2-1 last night

Cock-a-Hoop: Celtic's Victor Wanyama celebrates scoring the first goal as Celtic beat mighty Barcelona 2-1 last night

Back in black and white: Jardine (No 2) in his playing days, beaten by Yugoslavia's Stanislav Karasi during a 1974 World Cup group-stage clash which finished 1-1

Back in black and white: Jardine (No 2) in his playing days, beaten by Yugoslavia's Stanislav Karasi during a 1974 World Cup group-stage clash which finished 1-1

The 63-year-old former full-back, who made 451 appearances for Rangers and mnaged Hearts for two years in the late Eighties, was among a number of past and present Rangers players at yesterday’s launch of the celebrations, which had been scheduled for May but will now take place on Saturday December 8, when Stirling Albion visit Ibrox.

With Walter Smith considering an offer to return to the club as a non-executive director, the new owners are seeking to preserve links with the past. Old habits also die hard.

'It’s important that we celebrate our 140 years because six months ago we might not have had a club,' added Jardine. 'We’ve come through a difficult period and we’ve a long way to go. But we have started on a journey of rebuilding. We are the same club, with the same strips, the same stadium and the same ethos. We can’t change what’s happened, but we can make sure Rangers get back to the level we once were at.'

On song: Jardine (back row, third from left) joins his team-mates to record Ally's Tartan Army ahead of the 1974 World Cup Finals.

On song: Jardine (back row, third from left) joins his team-mates to record Ally's Tartan Army ahead of the 1974 World Cup Finals.
Back row (l-r) George Connelly, Danny McGrain, Jardine, David Hay, Kenny Dalglish, Tom Forsythe.
Front row (l-r) Eric Schaedler, Donald Ford, Willie Morgan, Alistair Hunter, Jim Holton

Last laugh: Celtic fans will care little for Rangers' barbs after last night's stunning win over Barca

Last laugh: Celtic fans will care little for Rangers' barbs after last night's stunning win over Barca

Chelsea racism row – comment: Police probe fan"s monkey gesture

Comment: My love for football dies a little bit more… this Chelsea fan will have thrilled to Drogba and Mikel, so what would they think of his monkey gesture

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UPDATED:

15:26 GMT, 1 November 2012

CHELSEA FAN'S MONKEY TAUNT LATEST NEWS…

Now name him: Chelsea ask supporters to shop this fan for his 'monkey' taunt towards Welbeck as club AND police launch probe

Click here to read the latest…

For some of us the memory of standing up on terraces watching English football goes back longer than we would care to remember.

Not because it is now long enough ago to remind one of the onset of middle age, and certainly not because of the raw sense of energy once engendered by being part of a swirling mass of humanity all sharing the same passion.

Instead it is due to some of the other stuff that came with it, such as things like the rudimentary toilet habits and, we reflect again today, the vicious singling out of players purely because of their ethnicity.

It hardly needs saying that 'jokes' about jam jars (how some people laughed) and more straightforward racial abuse from 30 years ago should rightly be considered among sport's most unwanted museum pieces.

Unacceptable: A Chelsea fan appears to make a 'monkey' gesture toward Manchester United's Danny Welbeck

Unacceptable: A Chelsea fan appears to make a 'monkey' gesture toward Manchester United's Danny Welbeck

Taunt: A Chelsea fan appears to make a monkey gesture (above) at Stamford Bridge

This was a particularly nasty part to the underbelly of the Seventies and Eighties, one that you would expect to have been consigned to history until you see images such as that of the Chelsea-supporting lout from Wednesday night making ape gestures at Manchester United's Danny Welbeck.

Right-thinking people everywhere, even those who behave in football grounds in a way they would rarely countenance in any other area of life, are entitled to ask: how on earth is this still going on as we approach the end of 2012

Our small and crowded island can, for the most part, be proud of the way it has absorbed large numbers of incomers from far off lands of all colours and creeds and yet there are still a few who believe that walking through the turnstiles gives them license to behave abusively in a way that is now, thankfully, totally unacceptable.

Utlimately self-policing among fans is the best solution to eradicate it altogether. Yet for part of the explanation behind Wednesday night's events it is depressingly instructive to look closely at the picture taken from the opposite side of the pitch and the demeanour of the other spectators around the bearded offender.

Directly two rows back there is
another man, his arm raised and wrist cocked in a position making a
gesture in Welbeck's direction that will be unmistakeable to anyone who
regularly watches football. In the heat of the moment he, too, clearly
thinks it is acceptable to send a hateful signal, albeit one more
commonplace and harmless.

Daniel Sturridge of Chelsea

Mikel John Obi of Chelsea

Victor Moses

Stars: Chelsea have many black players including Sturridge (left), Mikel (centre) and Moses

But back to the bearded man, who in this age of communication will be quickly identified and is already the subject of an official investigation by Chelsea.

After the police and the club have finished with him you would like to ask him a few questions. For instance, does he not in his daily life have friends or colleagues who are of a different race to him, and has their acquaintance not taught him that his behaviour is completely wrong

And as a Chelsea fan, has he never thrilled to any of his team's black players over the years, for example the muscular industry of Jon Mikel Obi or the physical grace of Didier Drogba What would they think of what he has done

But then football is always a mass of contradictions, not least with the running of Chelsea itself. The angry, bearded man will doubtless get a life ban from Stamford Bridge and will quickly be forgotten, but it is tempting to think that he is an easy target for punishment.

Football clubs usually talk a good game when it comes to the whole issue of respect but, as we have seen with the John Terry and Luis Suarez affairs in all their tortuous tedium, they often send out mixed messages if it involves a valuable asset to on-field performance.

All this comes at a time when football's image has suffered badly in the wake of a glorious summer, with a glut of contrasts being drawn with the Olympics and the spirit that pervaded them and other sports.

Such comparisons are largely over-simplistic and fanciful, but there is no question that it sorely tests your love of the world's biggest game, even among those of us who developed it in the decades when football was about as fashionable as herpes. And every time you see images like Wednesday night's that love dies a little more.

Victim: Danny Welbeck was the subject of the apparent monkey gesture

Victim: Danny Welbeck was the subject of the apparent monkey gesture

Patrick Collins: Football"s ugly excesses must never be mistaken for passion

Football's ugly excesses must never be mistaken for passion

PUBLISHED:

21:42 GMT, 15 September 2012

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UPDATED:

21:42 GMT, 15 September 2012

The details unfold, casual and
devastating. The blood of dead 10-year-old children is tested for
alcohol levels. The names of all the victims are scrutinised for
criminal records, in an attempt to smear and defame. The hovel of a
football ground bears a safety certificate which is a decade out of
date. Such is the obscenity of Hillsborough, and such is the evil for
which Official England has belatedly apologised.

The ugliness of that era comes seeping
through the pages of the Hillsborough report. There was a miserable
paucity of expectation. Hillsborough was not seen as a decrepit and
dangerous stadium, quite the reverse. It had staged 13 FA Cup
semi-finals in the previous 20 years and its selection for 1989 caused
no adverse comment.

For football treated comfort and
safety as optional extras. Every ground was the scene of confrontation.
Violence was routine, extreme violence a brooding possibility. Hence,
the prime aim of policing was suppression; keep the public away from the
pitch, hold them like animals behind fortified fences. This was the
mindset and its dull inflexibility contributed significantly to the
ensuing tragedy.

Justice: Liverpool fans show their feelings at the Stadium of Light

Justice: Liverpool fans show their feelings at the Stadium of Light

Yet while the reputation of the South
Yorkshire Police may not survive the current allegations of
incompetence, evasion and self-serving deception, it is salutary to
recall our own attitudes in the Eighties. Those of us who regularly
covered the game at that time developed a distressing tolerance towards
crowd violence. We would watch a crowd surge and see the police plunge
into the terraces to bring out belligerent bunches of young men. We
would shake our heads as they were dragged from the ground.

But we said nothing because we knew it
would happen many times more during the match, and we told ourselves
that reporting such antics would simply offer them the oxygen of
publicity.

Similarly with the street battles,
when shattering glass and wailing sirens became part of the pattern of
Saturday afternoons; familiar as the Sports Report signature tune or the
football results as read by James Alexander Gordon.

More from Patrick Collins…

Patrick Collins: Glorious summer of 2012 will live with us forever
08/09/12

Patrick Collins: A silver smile shows Simmonds will always be a true champion
08/09/12

Patrick Collins: Big-spending elite must heed Wenger's demand for sanity
01/09/12

Patrick Collins: Strauss is in no mood to toast the Absent Friend
18/08/12

Patrick Collins: Venomous and vacuous footballers are their own worst enemies
18/08/12

Trust the politicians to try to grab a share of Olympic glory
11/08/12

Patrick Collins: Trust the politicians to try to grab a share of Olympic glory
11/08/12

Patrick Collins: London's joyful Games prove there is life on Planet Olympics
04/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

True, we managed the odd burst of
disapproval when the scuffle was particularly savage or the stadium
especially squalid. But our voices lacked genuine outrage because we did
not comprehend the terrible course which had been set. Then the dominos
started to fall. At Bradford, 56 died when flames consumed an
antiquated wooden stand. At Heysel, 39 fans perished when Liverpool
supporters ran wild. A hazardous climate had been created, yet still we
did not recognise the signs. But then came Hillsborough, when grossly
inadequate facilities combined with grotesquely incompetent policing and
96 innocent people died long before their time. Whereupon everything
changed. At least, for a while, that was how it seemed.

Italia 90 set the game back on a saner
path, while the infusion of television money which attended the birth
of the Premier League launched a period of unprecedented prosperity.

But some of us, feebly ineffective
during the dark and violent days, started to recognise familiar signs.
Of course, the police raids and the mass skirmishes were mercifully
rare; all-seater stadia had seen to that. Yet the notion that football
grounds had suddenly become havens of intelligent enthusiasm was no more
than a public relations illusion. For the aggression still flourished
but it was portrayed as ‘passion’. And the notion that a more exclusive,
more expensive game would somehow render its audience more civilised
was swiftly seen to be baseless.

For football conforms to its own,
perverse code. It is an exercise which requires vigilant squads of
police and stewards at every potential point of contact to prevent rival
fans from attacking each other.

The idea that they might co-exist in sanity, the way people do in every other sport, is never entertained. For it is ‘tribal’, which is a trite excuse for dim excess.

And the neutral is forced to endure those excesses, the despicable taunts about Munich or Hillsborough, the songs about gas chambers, or the chants about the opposing manager being a paedophile. All bawled by addled fools in vile hope of giving offence.

The truth: A Liverpool shirt hangs from the Shankly Gates

The truth: A Liverpool shirt hangs from the Shankly Gates

The idea that anybody could voice that kind of filth defies decent belief. But, of course, it is that ‘passion’ thing again. Apparently, it shows that they really, really care who wins.

Even beyond verbal abuse, consider those moments when the camera picks up the viciously contorted faces of fans at a throw-in or a corner. Grown men, sometimes women, often accompanied by children, are captured screeching grotesque insults and making abhorrent gestures which would have them arrested in the street. And all because they disapprove of a player wearing a different-coloured shirt.

Some attract more vitriol than others. John Terry, for instance, has rarely enjoyed a kind word from this column but the personalised nature of the insults offered to him and his family are far beyond excuse or endurance. It is totally unacceptable, yet we are encouraged either to ignore it or to shrug it off as the way of the world.

It is false counsel, one which does the sport no service. The world need not be that way when we possess the power to change it. We merely ask for a show of moral leadership, of honest courage from those who run the game and the country. Something better than they have given us for far too long.

For if we turn away from the problems, then we risk tragic, unintended consequences of the kind which descended upon that criminally inadequate ground in Sheffield. When 96 innocents perished and were forced to wait for 23 years before they could rest in peace.

Boris takes the gold medal for buffoonery

Well, you can’t say we didn’t warn you. A few weeks ago, when the Olympic Flame arrived at the Tower of London, Boris Johnson made a speech of such crass insensitivity that we shuddered at the prospect of what lay ahead. Our fears were miserably justified.

Throughout the Games, the buffoon seized every opportunity of self-projection. Knowing nothing about Olympic sport, and caring a good deal less, he clearly saw the Olympics and Paralympics as an endless photo opportunity.

Not since Jeffrey Archer was in his excruciating pomp has anybody worked so hard at becoming a ‘character’, a bit of a card. And he maintained the ego-driven pace to the end.

In the spotlight: Boris Johnson claimed his place on the victory parade

In the spotlight: Boris Johnson claimed his place on the victory parade

At a time when the city and the nation had earned the world’s congratulations for their generosity of spirit, Johnson grabbed the chance to show off just one more time. At the post-Olympics parade, he was Mr Toad with a captive audience.

And so, with hair carefully dishevelled and eyes madly staring, he told a nudge-nudge little joke about sex on sofas, then brayed a stereotypical boast about how we had beaten the French, the Germans and the Aussies.

Nothing could detract from the glow of our marvellous Games but Boris Johnson did his oafish best.

Time for another letter, Sir Oliver…

Amid the torrent of reaction to the Hillsborough report, one voice remained silent. Which was strange because, in October 2011, the retired judge Sir Oliver Popplewell (85) had a good deal to say.

Sir Oliver chaired the inquiry into the Bradford fire disaster and in a letter to The Times he said: ‘The citizens of Bradford behaved with quiet dignity and great courage. They did not harbour conspiracy theories. They did not seek endless further inquiries. They buried their dead, comforted the bereaved and succoured the injured … Is there, perhaps, a lesson there for the Hillsborough campaigners’

Sir Oliver may now wish to reconsider those reflections. Perhaps another letter is on its way, containing a humble apology for his arrogant impertinence.

PS

When Manny Pacquiao laid Ricky Hatton flat as water inside two rounds in Las Vegas, he was trying to tell him something.

That the prize ring is no place for a man with a powerful thirst, indifferent application to the gym and a propensity to pile on slabs of weight.

The message Manny Pacquiao flattened Ricky Hatton

The message Manny Pacquiao flattened Ricky Hatton

To the enthusiastic approval of his various acolytes, Hatton has just announced that he will return to the ring after a three-year absence.

His decision, of course, and we wish him well. We may also wish that he’d listened to Manny.

US Open 2012: Laura Robson spotted by Jo Durie at age 10

Robson a big hit with Durie! Former British star saw Laura's potential at age 10

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 3 September 2012

Jo Durie well recalls first encountering a 10-year-old Laura Robson and the immediate impression she made when they got on a practice court together.

Brought along by her mother, Kathy, for a try-out with former world No 5 Durie and her long-time coaching partner Alan Jones, something stood out from the other girls they were working with.

‘Straightaway you could tell she hit the ball really well. A lot of the time it went into the back fence but there was an unusual sense of timing,’ said Durie, who helped guide her for two years.

Bright future: Laura Robson enjoyed a fine run to the US Open fourth round

Bright future: Laura Robson enjoyed a fine run to the US Open fourth round

‘I remember her losing in the first round of the national Under 12 championships. We asked her and Kathy afterwards if she wanted to win Under 12 titles just by making fewer mistakes than her opponent or end up being good at 18 by learning to hit the ball properly and hard and lose a few more matches than might be expected.’

Sensible words, as by taking the latter course Robson is comfortably the best 18-year-old in the world. After reaching the fourth round of the US Open she is the best equipped home-produced player to emulate Durie, who in the mid-Eighties was the last British woman to reach the quarter and semi-finals of Grand Slams.

Robson was really not far off beating Samantha Stosur before losing 6-4, 6-4 late on Sunday. With a little more composure at junctures such as two break points at 4-4 in the first set, she could have been in the last eight.

Power games: Robson already has formidable weapons in her arsenal

Power games: Robson already has formidable weapons in her arsenal

Durie, who is still working to produce the next generation at her academy in Northwood, Middlesex, knows there is more to come from Robson.

‘It is exciting because there is still a lot of improving to do,’ said Durie. ‘The best thing about her in New York has been her willingness to run and chase. Ultimately it has to come from the player. It’s obvious how well she hits the ball.

‘She has also got to improve the consistency on her serve, which can be a big weapon but a bit horrible at other times.

Blast from the past: Brit favourite Jo Durie

Blast from the past: Brit favourite Jo Durie

‘When you look at some of the players who have got into the top 10, you would ask why shouldn’t she Providing she works hard, she will make the top 20, but after that it is not easy to tell. Some things can only come from the player.’

Robson, who has clothing and equipment contracts with adidas and Wilson respectively, is quite a potential commodity when you consider what the likes of Jessica Ennis have earned this year. While London 2012 was a one-off springboard for Ennis, tennis is an almost year-round showcase that includes Britain’s biggest annual sports event.

It is conceivable Robson will do extremely well at Wimbledon in the coming years as her game is perfectly suited to grass. She loves the ball coming at her relatively low and at pace while a left-handed serve that is already clocking 112mph should develop into a considerable asset. Those are attributes which caused Murray to pick her as his Olympic mixed doubles partner.

Murray collects about 2million a year for his clothing deal alone so it is not hard to see how Robson, blessed with looks and intelligence, will fare in the market if she continues to deliver on the promise of the Wimbledon junior title she won at 14.

After food poisoning interrupted her promised retail therapy in Manhattan on Monday she will head home before going to Asia for a series of WTA Tour events before the season rounds off in Europe.

Wimbledon 2012: Women"s draw is most open ever

Scream if you want the trophy! The battle for the women's title has never been so open

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 24 June 2012

Twenty years after she nervously sat with her future husband Andre Agassi at the Wimbledon’s Champions Dinner, celebrating their respective singles titles of 1992, Steffi Graf will be back at the All England Club this year.

Steffi – or Stefanie as she now likes to be known – will be an official guest of honour and as she serenely looks down from her vantage point in the Royal Box she might be excused a slight sense of bemusement.

She will hardly be surprised by the rat-a-tat-tat from the baseline, which has taken its cue from the days when she used to slug it out with Monica Seles, but the sheer unpredictably of who will emerge from it all as the winner, is so different to her era.

At full stretch: Maria Sharapova may be favourite but she has a big challenge ahead

At full stretch: Maria Sharapova may be favourite but she has a big challenge ahead

Just as men’s tennis is starting to look like a two-horse race, the women’s game resembles more the Grand National.

It is not because Graf these days focuses more on bringing up her family and overseeing her charity than following tennis that she can have little idea of who will win. Even the most assiduous follower of the women’s game cannot predict with confidence the holder of the Venus Rosewater Dish a week on Saturday.

How times change. When Graf and Seles were duelling at their peak between 1988 and 1993 they shared 22 out of 25 Grand Slam titles between them. When Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova ruled the world they monopolised 18 out of 19 majors in that period of the early to mid-eighties.

As we enter Wimbledon, eight different players have claimed the last nine Grand Slams and the upcoming generation continue to struggle to fully establish themselves, an example being Eastbourne last week, where all three of the top seeds lost in the first round.

United she stands: Samantha Stosur beat Serena Williams at the US Open

United she stands: Samantha Stosur beat Serena Williams at the US Open

Case to defend: Petra Kvitova is back in the hunt after winning in 2011

Case to defend: Petra Kvitova is back in the hunt after winning in 2011

This, combined with elements such as the deeply unattractive grunt/yelping of a few high-profile players, has led to various mutterings, usually under the breath, about whether equal prize money can be justified.

The arguments grow louder when standing comparison with Nadal, Djokovic and Co, although there is a counter-argument that the lottery element has made the women’s game more interesting.

And now, at least the WTA Tour has an authentic No 1. Maria Sharapova is every inch the superstar, confirmed by Forbes last week to be by far the highest-earning female athlete in the world and the only one of her sex to be inside the top 50.

Water performance: Victoria Azarenka was triumphant at the Australian Open in January

Water performance: Victoria Azarenka was triumphant at the Australian Open in January

Most importantly, unlike many of the No 1s who have gone before her in the past few years, she holds a major title, having bagged the French Open title. She has also overcome long-term shoulder problems and improved the weakest parts of her game, her serve and her movement around the court.

Sharapova’s elevation also seems to have rekindled one of the more traditionally intriguing aspects of women’s tennis, the fractious relationships between the leading players.

The Russian does not get on with world No 2 and Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, and neither are relations warm with No 3 Agnieszka Radwanska.

When the Pole, having made an early exit at the Australian Open, had the temerity to question the world No 1’s grunting, the Russian came out with the delicious putdown: ‘She’s back in Poland, right’

Interestingly, when the genial Caroline Wozniacki was enjoying her long spell at No 1, the women’s locker room seemed to be a more harmonious place. In terms of finding the champion, there are two categories to pick from.

One is that of the established champions comprising of Sharapova, Serena Williams and, more distantly, Kim Clijsters, whose body now seems unwilling to go the distance.

Then there are those trying to add to, or start, their Grand Slam collections. Defending champion Petra Kvitova leads this group after bursting from the ranks a year ago to fulfil the potential that only the cognoscenti had seen in her previously.

The easygoing Czech, whose father is Mayor of her 6,000- population hometown Fulnek, has not quite backed it up since and admits that she could find it tough on her return to SW19.

History: Serena Williams has won four times at SW19 ... and could make it five

History: Serena Williams has won four times at SW19 … and could make it five

‘It’s going to be tougher to defend it. I expected to win my first match last year but nobody else was looking,’ she says. ‘This year everyone will be looking at me, expecting me to win. It’s a lot tougher, but at least I know from last year that I can win seven matches in a row.’

Kvitova’s hopes are certainly not helped by being in the tougher half of the draw, with a possible quarter final against Serena Williams and a semi against Azarenka.

Sharapova will be pleased to be tucked away from them, although she does face an awkward second round against 2010 semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova. We can also dare to anticipate some British success in the women’s event, as most of the home players have winnable matches.

French Open champion of 2010 Francesca Schiavone faces 18-year-old Laura Robson in a fascinating first round — could this be the year we get some decisive evidence of her exciting potential

Jonathan Joseph in line to make full England Test debut against South Africa

Joseph and his amazing dream call: Family ambition to be fulfilled against Boks

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 11 June 2012

Jonathan Joseph is poised to make his full Test debut for England at Ellis Park on Saturday, to fulfil an ambition first declared by his father when the London Irish back was just a week old.

The eye injury suffered by Brad Barritt in Durban three days ago has created a midfield vacancy and head coach Stuart Lancaster is ready to react by promoting a 21-year-old seen as an attacking talent of staggering potential.

When the team to face the South African Southern Barbarians was announced, Joseph was not in the 22 despite being fully fit and all the indications are that he will don the No 13 shirt in the second Test against the Springboks.

Magic moment: Joseph is in line to start the second Test against South Africa

Magic moment: Joseph is in line to start the second Test against South Africa

Following a two-try cameo against the Barbarians at Twickenham last month and a lively three-minute outing in the series opener last weekend, a starting appearance for the rookie Exile would confirm the regard he is held in by the England coaches.

It would also mean that Ivan Joseph – who played for Northampton in the Eighties – was not indulging in wishful thinking when he committed his hopes for his son to paper in May, 1991. He might just rue the fact that he didn’t have a flutter.

'My dad played rugby for Northampton, and my mum was a hockey player and swimmer, so there is a real sporting background in the family,' said Joseph jnr.

'When I was born, they produced a booklet of what they wanted me to do when I grew up. My dad wrote down 'England rugby player', which is quite funny. It was literally a week after I was born. He should have put a bet on it, but he didn’t! I’ve got a little brother, maybe I should do that for him. He’s only nine, so it might be worth a go…'

Family man: Jospeh's family always wanted him to become an international

Family man: Jospeh's family always wanted him to become an international

Family man: Jospeh's family always wanted him to become an international

Joseph identified Jason Robinson as a boyhood idol, citing his 'unbelievable' footwork. He caught the eye with some fancy steps of his own on his first appearance in an England shirt, when he touched down twice at HQ on May 27.

'It was quite good,' he said. 'Luckily I got on the end of what the boys created in that game. It was a great game to be introduced to the England team – it was pretty open, which I quite like. I love getting ball in hand with a bit of space, that’s where I feel my strengths are.'

Having admitted that selection in the 42-man squad was ‘surreal’, Joseph is now on the verge of breaking into the Test XV, with Lancaster quite prepared to take another selection gamble.

'He is definitely one of those who did well when he came on and he is definitely in the mix for Saturday,’ said the head coach.

Working hard: England are hoping to bounce back after the first Test defeat

Working hard: England are hoping to bounce back after the first Test defeat

England team to play SA Southern
Barbarians in Kimberley

A Goode (Saracens); D Strettle
(Saracens), A Allen (Leicester), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), C Wade
(Wasps); C Hodgson (Saracens), D Care (Harlequins); M Mullan
(Worcester), J Gray (Harlequins), P Doran-Jones (Northampton); G
Kitchener (Leicester), G Robson (Harlequins. capt); J Haskell (Otago
Highlanders), T Waldrom (Leicester), C Fearns (Bath).

Replacements: T
Youngs (Leicester), R Harden (Gloucester), T Palmer (Stade Francais), J
Gibson (London Irish), L Dickson (Northampton), G Lowe (Harlequins), N
Abendanon (Bath).

'I do see this as an opportunity (to experiment). I've not been afraid to give players an opportunity. I've brought in guys like Owen Farrell, Lee Dickson and Geoff Parling – it's been my way since the start of the Six Nations.'

While Joseph has played many times on the wing for Irish, he prefers to operate in midfield and Lancaster suggested that is where he would be deployed.

In that event, Manu Tuilagi – the incumbent at outside centre – could be shifted out to the wing.

'We are trying to find people to fit roles and 13 is a position we have to look at,’ said the coach. ‘Manu played predominantly on the wing in his age-grade, academy rugby.'

Alex Goode of Saracens has a chance to stake a claim to start at full back in the second Test, after being named in a midweek team captained by Harlequins lock George Robson.

Lancaster is ready to recall Alex Corbisiero as the replacement prop at Ellis Park, provided the Exiles loosehead proves his fitness in training.

Paolo di Canio"s passion rescues the FA Cup

Paolo's passion saves the day! Di Canio's verve and wardrobe rescue the FA Cup

When a day longer than his sideburns had finally drawn to a close it was Paolo di Canio who supplied the enduring image.

With leather-gloved fingers pointing to the heavens and a snug olive-green jacket fastened over his scarf he may have looked like a TV cop from the early Eighties but this was a moment of pure FA Cup passion.

Good old, slightly bonkers Paolo, posturing on the touchline to remind the nation that few moments in football can generate emotion quite like a genuine FA Cup upset.

Sky's the limit: Di Canio produced one of the shocks of the day by beating Wigan

Sky's the limit: Di Canio produced one of the shocks of the day by beating Wigan

Fourth tier beat first at the County Ground, one of four shocks (the others: Crawley, Notts County and Stevenage) on a day which had opened in mind-numbing fashion at St Andrew’s.

Seriously, who at ESPN thought Birmingham versus Wolves was a good place to start, with its weakened teams and empty seats

‘Nil-nil was inevitable,’ said Blues defender Curtis Davies. Really If only he’d told us sooner.

The day’s other early kick-off passed without a goal, although this was a terrific effort by Dagenham and Redbridge, who slipped to 90th in football’s pyramid during the day but can look forward to a trip to, ahem, Millwall.

Three o’clock approached, team news emerged and it was hard not to feel a pang of sadness for this noble trophy.

Does anyone care any longer

Tottenham, the only one of the top six in action, made 10 changes, wary of Wednesday’s game against Everton in the Barclays Premier League.

Second string: Tottenham rested 10 players for their win over Cheltenham

Second string: Tottenham rested 10 players for their win over Cheltenham

Cardiff changed 10 and Crystal Palace seven ahead of their meeting in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final on Tuesday.

The numbers on Palace’s shirts added up to more than 300, according to someone on Twitter.

Wigan made nine changes and they don’t play again until next Monday.

Of the two TV companies with rights to the action, one showed Catwoman and the other a documentary on baseball as Matt Le Tissier and Charlie Nicholas watched League Two football in Sky’s Soccer Saturday studio.

I WON'T CRY FOR CITY

MK Dons boss Karl Robinson said Roberto Mancini’s comments about struggling to field a team were ‘embarrassing’

Some despair was chased away during the next two hours as 73 goals were scored in the 23 ties that kicked off at 3pm with Wigan, Reading, Bristol City and Doncaster humbled by opposition from lower leagues.

The FA Cup made its case for staying alive during the 21st century as Vinnie Jones – a Wembley winner in 1988 – taught the nation how to administer ‘Hands Only CPR’ to the sounds of the Bee Gees during the ad breaks.

John Murray conjured classic images on BBC 5 Live with his wonderful commentary on a thrilling tie and a party atmosphere at Moss Rose, where Macclesfield held Bolton.

Thriller: Macclesfield held Bolton to 2-2 draw

Thriller: Macclesfield held Bolton to 2-2 draw

‘There are almost 2,000 Bolton fans in there and I can see a crocodile at the front,’ said Murray, straining to be heard above the din of an old-style wooden rattle, just as BBC World Service listeners joined the broadcast.
Macc Town were going global and they did not disappoint.

MUM'S THE WORD

After his hat-trick v Fleetwood, Blackpool’s Matt Phillips says he’ll give the ball to his mum – so she can protect it with hairspray

In Kent, Gillingham chairman Paul Scally had set the tone by re-opening a festering feud with Tony Pulis, saying the only place he wanted to bury a hatchet was in the Stoke manager’s head.

‘I’ll never forgive Tony Pulis,’ said Scally, who sacked the visiting manager in 1999 for gross misconduct, on Sky before the match. ‘He affected me, my family and this football club.’

Gills took the lead but Stoke fielded a strong team (funny that) and Premier League power proved too great.

Other dreams were wrecked early. Tamworth responded to a Football Focus pep-talk from Sportsmail’s Martin Keown by leaking a goal in five minutes at Everton from which they would never recover.

Cheltenham conceded early at Tottenham and Fleetwood and Salisbury slipped behind. /01/08/article-2083948-0F5EB57800000578-625_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Upset: Stevenage shocked Reading” class=”blkBorder” />

Upset: Stevenage shocked Reading

Wrexham are the only non-Leaguers into the fourth round draw, fighting back at Brighton with a goal which triggered a glorious passage of FA Cup romance.

It was 4.23pm when the Blue Square Premier leaders levelled with a goal from Adrian Cieslewicz.

Within a minute, Arnaud Mendy had fired Macclesfield 2-1 up and by 4.26pm MK Dons were beating Queens Park Rangers 1-0 with a Dean Bowditch goal.

WILSON IS WAITING…

Sheffield United boss Danny Wilson is braced for a bid for striker Ched Evans, who scored against Salisbury Town

Paul Benson pounced for Swindon’s winner at 4.34pm, roughly the same time Matt Tubbs was scoring for Crawley against Bristol City and Jeff Hughes scored his second for Notts County at Doncaster.

Then, the Premier League hit back. David Wheater equalised for Bolton with 13 minutes left and Heidar Helguson eased pressure on Neil Warnock with two minutes to spare.

Fulham (full strength) crushed League One leaders Charlton at Craven Cottage as Danny Murphy’s wife Joanna Taylor used Twitter to report how abuse from visiting fans forced her and son Ethan to seek refuge in the directors’ box.

Alleged abuse: Danny Murphy's wife used Twitter to complain about Charlton fans

Alleged abuse: Danny Murphy's wife used Twitter to complain about Charlton fans

Only two top-flight clubs would crash out on Saturday. Wigan, at Swindon, and Blackburn, who took the lead at Newcastle but lost to a goal from Jonas Gutierrez in the 94th minute.

CRAWLEY ARE AT IT AGAIN

Will Crawley Town reach the fifth round again, a year after losing to Manchester United at the same stage

On BBC’s Final Score, Mark Chapman winced on behalf of Steve Kean when Gutierrez scored. The most anguished of callers on the evening’s radio phone-ins supported Wigan and Ipswich (beaten 3-1 at Hull), while Bristol Rovers’ defeat seemed to be going down well at the Memorial Stadium, where John Barnes and Kevin Keegan predicted Aston Villa’s easy win.

Barnes pointed out that the upsets are usually produced by small teams in form, not the likes of Rovers, who prepared for their big day on live television by sacking manager Paul Buckle.

It is an era where the elite have more money, bigger squads, fitter players, better facilities and more thorough preparation techniques. There should be fewer shock results yet complacency still eats away in different forms.

Perhaps it comes from the manager who makes changes and sends a subliminal message around his players – and if a slip like this collides with a spirited team, it will produce sparks.

This is the FA Cup staying alive without the need for CPR, thanks to Di Canio and his ilk.

Ben Ainslie apologises for World Championships row

Ainslie apologises for going overboard at World Championships

There is a story from the Eighties of a Daily Telegraph sailing writer who, having written an article disliked by its subject, was pushed off a pontoon while fully clothed and with his notepad and camera on him.

When he tried to clamber back to dry land, his tormentor stamped on his fingers. That apart, there are few precedents for the extraordinary scenes played out at the World Championships in Perth, Australia, this weekend.

Ben Ainslie, the greatest British Olympian of his era, was so angered by a TV boat hampering his progress by getting too close to him as he raced on Saturday that, after finishing second, he jumped out of his Finn, swam over, climbed aboard their vessel, remonstrated with them, dived off, and swam back.

Angry: Ainslie shouts at the television crew after feeling his Finn had been impeded by their boat

Angry: Ainslie shouts at the television crew after feeling his Finn had been impeded by their boat

The punishment for his aberration wasdisqualification from the competition he was leading. Ainslie called the sanction an “overreaction”. The maximum option open to the jury was atwo-year ban, ruling him out of the Olympics. Now that would really have been an over-reaction.

Nonetheless Ainslie felt a deep disappointment because he would otherwise have taken a lead into Sunday”s final race, thanks to some of the best sailing of his life. A sixth Finn world gold medal of his career was there for the taking.

Instead Giles Scott, one of Sportsmail”sMagnificent Seven, won – a fabulous reward having missed out to Ainsliein the battle for selection as the sole British Finn sailor at London 2012.

I spoke to Ainslie on Sunday from theother side of the world. He began by congratulating Scott, saying: “Giles deserves the victory and nothing that”s happened takes anything away from that.”

Bust-up: The British sailing champion confronts one of the TV crew after climbing aboard his boat

Bust-up: The British sailing champion confronts one of the TV crew after climbing aboard his boat

It was typical of Ainslie, whose off-water demeanour is the epitome of reserve and good manners. That is just one of several reasons why there is no rush here to condemn him.

Another is that his whole story of success is based on an on-water desire bordering on the maniacal: his refusal to be bullied by an opponent, his insistence on fighting for every advantage including pushing the rules to the limit.

It was just what British sport neededwhen he made his Olympic debut at Atlanta in 1996. Steve Redgrave and Matt Pinsent won the one and only British gold medal there. Ainslie, aged 19, took silver in the Laser.

For four years he worked relentlesslytowards the ultimate reward at Sydney 2000 – the first of three Olympictitles so far. He achieved it in controversy by blocking his great rival Robert Scheidt in the final race.

It meant Ainslie”s points lead could not be overhauled. Unsporting, said some. “That”s tactics, that”s racing,” countered Ainslie.

Cooling off: Ainslie dives into the water after making his point and earning a disqualification

Cooling off: Ainslie dives into the water after making his point and earning a disqualification

Speaking on Sunday, he said: “What happened this weekend was one crazy incident. It was over in five seconds. There is no doubt that the TV boat was closer to me than it should have been and having an adverse effect on me. I told them that. They apologised and I apologised to them. Everything was fine.

“I am pleased I sailed fantastically well and dealt with the pressure when I raced. This was a non-racing incident. It”s a shame. Let”s move on.”

He added convincingly: “It will not have any bearing on the Olympics.”