Tag Archives: hostility

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez says Blues" fans offer him support when they meet him

'Rafa, we love you really!' Benitez insists he has plenty of support on the street as Chelsea fans finally offer him backing

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

15:41 GMT, 8 April 2013

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UPDATED:

16:23 GMT, 8 April 2013

Unpopular Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez believes Blues supporters do love him really — at least they tell him that when they bump into him in the street.

The interim manager at Stamford Bridge has had to endure almost consistent hostility from the club’s faithful, but he says it isn’t the same in the streets.

Benitez told Spanish newspaper Marca: ‘I spend most of my time here at the Cobham training centre and almost never go into London. And I have to say this – people are very civil to me out on the streets. Many Blues fans stop me and tell me to keep on plugging away and not to listen to the critics. I have a lot more day-to-day support than is shown, and people think.’

Favourite Rafa Benitez says that Chelsea fans tell him they like him when they meet in the streets

Favourite Rafa Benitez says that Chelsea fans tell him they like him when they meet in the streets

Out: Benitez may not have met the majority of Chelsea fans who have been calling for his head

Out: Benitez may not have met the majority of Chelsea fans who have been calling for his head

Soldiering on: Chelsea are still in with a chance of winning both the FA Cup and the Europa League

Soldiering on: Chelsea are still in with a chance of winning both the FA Cup and the Europa League

He also believes this Chelsea side — who are enjoying a run of form under the Spanish manager — are in a period of transition.

He
added: ‘We do have a squad which is a bit thin in some areas. People
still think that this is the Chelsea of Drogba, Essien or Lampard at its
finest. But now it is a side in transition, with Hazard, Mata, Oscar,
Marn and Moses. They are young players who have to adapt. We are moving
away from a physical side like the old one to a team which is much more
technical.’

Meanwhile,
Benitez knows Chelsea’s Champions League fate could hinge on the
Barclays Premier League clash with Tottenham but is relaxed about the
twists and turns in the race for the top four.

Respect: Rafa Benitez embracing new Sunderland's boss Paolo Di Canio before the game on Sunday

Respect: Rafa Benitez embracing new Sunderland's boss Paolo Di Canio before the game on Sunday

Evolution: Benitez says the new era of Chelsea revolves around Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar

Evolution: Benitez says the new era of Chelsea revolves around Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar

A win for Arsenal on Saturday saw last season’s Champions League winners Chelsea in fifth ahead of their match with Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland yesterday.

But the Blues returned to third with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge, moving above Tottenham on goal difference after Spurs were held to a draw by sixth-placed Everton.

'We knew that we had to win and especially because they (Tottenham and Arsenal) will continue winning,' Benitez told Chelsea TV.

'The main thing for me is the big picture, so keep calm. We have a good team, if we perform at our level we can win against anyone.

'You have some bad games and good games but it will be the same for them.

'We have to carry on. We have one game in hand on Tottenham so if we can do well, especially against them, maybe it’s a game that can mean six points.'

A date for the Tottenham fixture is still to be determined after Chelsea’s progress to Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City forced the game to be rearranged.

Should Chelsea confirm their place in the Europa League semi-finals by completing an aggregate victory over Rubin Kazan on Thursday, the window of opportunity for the Spurs fixture will be small and it will likely take place in the first week of May.

Danny Graham to join Sunderland for 5.5m despite Newcastle links

Sunderland's 5.5m deal for Graham almost done… but will he want to join them after last night's abuse from the fans

By
Declan Warrington

PUBLISHED:

11:02 GMT, 30 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:32 GMT, 30 January 2013

Danny Graham will today complete his 5.5m transfer from Swansea to Sunderland after refusing to be deterred by the vicious abuse aimed at him from the Wearside club's fans during last night's 0-0 draw between the two sides.

Manager Martin O'Neill has targeted the Newcastle-supporting frontman to ease the goalscoring burden on Steven Fletcher after being replaced at Swansea by Michu.

But Sunderland's fans, still angry about his dismissal of the club during his time at Watford, booed him throughout, labelling him “scum” and “a w****r” and ensuring he can continue to expect such hostility even after his signing is confirmed.

Hostile: Graham was abused by Sunderland's fans last night, even though he will sign for them today

Hostile: Graham was abused by Sunderland's fans last night, even though he will sign for them today

'Put it this way. I would stay as far away from Sunderland as I could', Graham once responded when asked who he would support if Newcastle no longer existed. 'It would probably have to be Gateshead.'

It is this for which the striker, who wasted an injury-time chance to win the game for Swansea, has not been forgiven. Though the rivalry that exists between Newcastle and Sunderland has always been fierce, for a new signing to be so unwelcome is regardless unusual.

Frustrated: Danny Graham

Unwelcome: Danny Graham

Write caption here

Newcastle fan Lee Clark enjoyed a successful period at Sunderland after signing from their rivals – albeit before an acrimonious exit – but Graham's reception in many ways mirrors that experienced by Rafa Benitez at Chelsea.

Unwanted: Chelsea fans still do not accept Benitez

Unwanted: Chelsea fans still do not accept Benitez

The Spaniard was intensely booed upon his unveiling as Chelsea manager and has still not been accepted by the club's fans who continue to show their support for his predecessor Roberto Di Matteo, effectively making his job consistently more difficult.

Chelsea fan accused of "monkey" taunt at Danny Welbeck will face no further action

Chelsea fan accused of aiming 'monkey' taunt at Welbeck will face no further action as CPS claim there is 'insufficient evidence'

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UPDATED:

16:04 GMT, 13 December 2012

No further action will be taken against a man who was arrested on suspicion of racist behaviour following Chelsea's League Cup win over Manchester United, Scotland Yard said.

Pictures taken during the October 31 fourth-round tie at Stamford Bridge appeared to show a fan making a 'monkey' gesture.

A 28-year-old man was arrested over alleged racist behaviour. United striker Danny Welbeck appeared to be the target of the alleged abuse.

A CPS London spokesperson said: 'We have thoroughly reviewed the evidence in this case in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

No action: The Chelsea supporter will face no further charges after appearing to make a racist gesture

No action: The Chelsea supporter will face no further charges after appearing to make a racist gesture

Taunt: Chelsea supporter Gavin Kirkham will face no further charges after appearing to make a racist gesture

'To bring a charge for a racially
aggravated public order offence we need to be able to prove in a court
either that an individual’s gestures demonstrate hostility towards the
victim based on the victim's membership (or presumed membership) of a
racial group, or that the offence is motivated (wholly or partly) by
hostility towards members of a racial group based on their membership of
that group.

'It is our decision that, having
looked closely at video footage, an image of the incident and witness
statements, the evidence does not demonstrate this to the standard
required for a prosecution. There is therefore insufficient evidence for
a realistic prospect of conviction and we are therefore not bringing a
charge against this individual.'

Other fans in the crowd were
interviewed and CCTV footage has been examined but 'a decision was taken
with the Crown Prosecution Service to proceed with no further action,'
the Scotland Yard spokesman said.

He
said: 'The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) takes any allegation of
racist chanting and/or behaviour very seriously and if any matters are
brought to our attention they will of course be thoroughly investigated.

'The MPS routinely
work very closely with football clubs and partner agencies to monitor
behaviour to ensure public confidence and safety.'

Peter Herbert, chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, told Sportsmail: 'We are surprised and very disappointed with this decision. We will be taking this matter up with the CPS and also the Metropolitan Police in due course. This decision is not in the public interest and they need to be held to account for it.'

Earlier
this year, Chelsea imposed a lifetime ban on a supporter who admitted
racially abusing former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

Rafa Benitez: Chelsea job is much tougher than I thought

Benitez: This job is much tougher than I thought (sorry Rafa, but we could have told you that)

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UPDATED:

08:45 GMT, 2 December 2012

Rafa Benitez remained defiant in the
face of continued fans' protests against his appointment at Chelsea –
but admitted that the size of his challenge at the club is greater than
he had imagined after the European champions slumped to a 3-1 defeat at
West Ham.

Chelsea are without a win in seven
Barclays Premier League games while Benitez has collected just two
points from his first three fixtures.

Chelsea fans again abused their new
manager, displaying banners in support of sacked boss Roberto di Matteo
and calling for Benitez to go.

Lots to work on: Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez

Lots to work on: Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez

But the Spaniard insisted he would remain unaffected by the ongoing hostility.

'We know that we have to win games to change things around,' said Benitez. 'My concern is to improve the team to analyse what is wrong on the pitch. If we improve the team and start winning, it will be easy to turn things around.

'We have to improve on the pitch and the fans will be happy. If we improve on the pitch it will be easier for everyone.'

At the moment, though, Chelsea are suffering their worst League start in the Roman Abramovich era – 26 points from 15 games.

Making their point: Chelsea fans unveil a banner

Making their point: Chelsea fans unveil a banner

Their run of seven Premier League games without a win is their longest in the top flight since February 1995, when they went 10 games without victory.

Benitez did concede that the task of saving Chelsea's season is more difficult than he envisaged.

Asked if the job was a tougher challenge than expected, Benitez said: 'It could be . . . in terms of this being a top side and it being the middle of the season and obviously the results were not the best.'

Chelsea led through a Juan Mata goal but were then stunned by a second-half West Ham comeback and goals from Carlton Cole, Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga, leaving Benitez perplexed at his team's capitulation.

Hammer time: West Ham boss Sam Allardyce reacts after West Ham score their third goal

Hammer time: West Ham boss Sam Allardyce reacts after West Ham score their third goal

'It's difficult to explain when you are so good in the first half,' he added. 'How can you not manage in the second half

'Everyone has seen in the first half that we could have scored two or three goals and finished the game. But we didn't do it. We were giving the ball away easily, not winning first balls, seconds balls, not comfortable in possession.

'We had been a bit better in defence, with two clean sheets, and today we were a lot better in attack. Now we have this situation in defence where we have to improve again.'

Out of sorts: Chelsea's players are not performing

Out of sorts: Chelsea's players are not performing

He does not expect the fans' backlash to affect his players.

'I hope that would not be the situation,' he added. 'Why Because we have experienced players, so they know that they have to manage and cope.'

Asked if the negativity and bad results might even end his seven-month interim appointment, Benitez insisted: 'Again I would say it depends on things that we can do on the pitch. We improve on the pitch it will be easier for everyone.'

Manchester United play Galatasaray 19 years on from "welcome to hell" clash

Welcome back to hell: United prepare to face Galatasaray 19 years on from infamous clash

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UPDATED:

09:31 GMT, 19 November 2012

Nineteen years on from their first visit to 'hell', Manchester United are preparing to head into the lion's den that is Galatasaray's Ali Sami Yen stadium once more.

But when Sir Alex Ferguson's men walk out for their Champions League clash in Istanbul on Tuesday night they are unlikely to be greeted with such vitriolic hostility as they faced back in November 1993.

Welcome to hell: United are greeted with hostile banners back in 1993

Welcome to hell: United are greeted with hostile banners back in 1993

Welcome to hell: United are greeted with hostile banners back in 1993

Rewind 19 years and the two clubs were paired together in the second round of Europe's elite club competition. The first leg had been drawn 3-3 at Old Trafford, giving the Turkish side the edge on away goals heading into the second leg – and their fans were determined to press home an advantage they could.

Banners reading 'welcome to hell' greeted United on their arrival at Ataturk airport, they seemed unfazed but they should have taken it as a sign of things to come. Life certainly didn't get any easier, as veteran midfielder Ryan Giggs remembers.

'I remember it vividly. It will always stick with me,' said the 38-year-old of his first trip to the 35,000-seater stadium.

Fanatical: Fans at the Ali Semi Yen stadium

Fanatical: Fans at the Ali Semi Yen stadium

'I was 19 and, when we arrived at the airport, there were all the banners and fans. Thousands of fans screaming at you.

'There were things being thrown at us when we were driving away on the coach. Outside the hotel their fans were chanting all night, making sure we didn't get any sleep. People were phoning the hotel room.

'Prior to the game, the manager told us to go on the pitch and sample the atmosphere.

Shock: United could only draw 3-3 at Old Trafford

Shock: United could only draw 3-3 at Old Trafford

'The fans had been in the ground for hours and hours. The atmosphere was buzzing 90 minutes before kick-off.

'We were stood in the middle of the pitch watching the fans chant. It was one stand to another.'

Whether the fans' behaviour had an impact is hard to tell, but United underperformed as they had done in the first leg and could only draw 0-0 as they were sent crashing out.

Clash: Mark Hughes brawls at the final whistle

Clash: Mark Hughes brawls at the final whistle

The drama didn't end there though as the visitors had Eric Cantona sent off in the dying embers of the game, resulting in a brawl at the final whistle involving both players and fans.

'When we came off the pitch, it was chaos,' Giggs said.

'Eric had already been sent off and the way back to the dressing room was underneath the pitch.

'There were armed police either side – not the kind of people you would ever mess with. They had helmets, batons, were all ready. And it just kicked off.

Firestarter: Galatasaray fans celebrate at the final whistle

Firestarter: Galatasaray fans celebrate at the final whistle

'I was just trying to get back to the safety of the dressing room as quickly as possible.

'Obviously not at the time because we lost and went out, but it was a great experience for us.

'They were a good team then and they will be a good team now.'

United have faced Galatasaray three times since their infamous first trip to the Ali Sami Yen, the following season they exacted their revenge with a 4-0 win at Old Trafford in the group stage, but once again could only draw 0-0 in Istanbul.

September's clash at Old Trafford saw an early Michael Carrick strike separate the two sides, meaning if United can shut out the Turkish giants for a fourth consecutive match and continue their unbeaten European season so far, the Ali Sami Yen will feel more like heaven than hell.

Test Match Special row: Jonathan Agnew hits out as The Cricketer defends Test Match Sofa

Sofa wars: Editor of The Cricketer defends Test Match Sofa in row with BBC's Test Match Special
We're no parasites and no threat, Test Match Sofa hits back at BBC
Andrew Miller left baffled by hostility from BeebTMS anchor Agnew responds by threatening never to read magazine againEngland T20 captain Broad supports Agnew in row

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UPDATED:

13:04 GMT, 1 November 2012

Test Match Sofa, the alternative cricket commentary which operates from central London not from Test venues, has this week been described as a 'parasite' that needs to be 'nailed' and 'swept offline'. Here ANDREW MILLER, the editor of The Cricketer magazine, who owns TestMatchSofa.com, hits back at those allegations…

Earlier this year, one of the oldest voices in cricket took a leap of faith and jumped into bed with one of the newest.

The Cricketer magazine, established in 1921 by Pelham Warner, saw in Test Match Sofa, an irreverent online cricket commentary service established in Tooting in 2009 by Daniel Norcross, a spark of innovative potential that it simply could not afford to pass up.

The tie-up was never going to be to everyone’s taste, but like two inter-joining circles on a Venn diagram, that was never really the point. In a print media market that seems to be shrinking as quickly as broadband speeds are rising, innovation is vital if you want to stay afloat.

Alastair Cook (second, left) takes evasive action from a shot by Ajinkya Rahane of India 'A' during the final day of England's first warm-up match

England expects: Alastair Cook (second, left) takes evasive action from a shot by Ajinkya Rahane of India 'A' during the final day of England's first warm-up match

WHAT IS TEST MATCH SOFA

test match sofa logo

Test
Match Sofa is an online broadcaster providing cricket ball-by-ball commentary for
all England test matches and selected One Day Internationals.

The
station is available worldwide serving as alternative commentary to
the BBC's Test Match Special which is only available in the UK.

The station began broadcasting from
the Tooting Bec home of one of the station's creators, Daniel
Norcross, but moved to a rented house in Nunhead, also in South
London, in August 2010. In January 2011, Test Match Sofa moved to an
undisclosed location, believed to be somewhere in central London.

Listeners interact with the show's commentators through
Twitter, with this interaction often influencing the agenda.

Follow Test Match Sofa on Twitter @TestMatchSofa

The Cricketer saw in Test Match Sofa a
cult following of young, technologically savvy cricket fans – a
demographic that it might not have attracted by any other means. In
return the Sofa was offered shelter and status, and a chance for that
seed of a concept to germinate. At a stroke, each had doubled their
potential audience, and shored up the other’s foundations. It was, and
remains, a win-win scenario.

We
expected resistance to our venture, and it duly arrived – though not
from the quarters we had imagined. The ECB, recognising that we were not
breaching any rights, ceased correspondence on the subject back in May,
ahead of England’s Test series against West Indies. Test Match Special,
on the other hand, have taken the Sofa’s existence as a personal slight
– culminating in a declaration on Wednesday that it needed to be
'nailed' and 'swept offline'.

We're flattered by TMS’s attention, but baffled by their hostility. At what point in that magnificent programme's evolution did the promotion of cricket become a zero-sum game To complain, as they do, that Test Match Sofa is a 'parasite' that pays nothing for rights and gives nothing in return is a sad parody of the public access position the BBC once held dear.

After a summer in which rain, the Olympics and the Tour de France combined to squeeze cricket to the margins of public interest, surely the game needs as many people as possible to make as much noise on its behalf as is feasible. Anyone who believes otherwise might also argue against letting schoolkids enter for free on the fifth day of a Test.

The Sofa does not profess to fill the void by any means, but it provides a start. Through the use of Twitter (@testmatchsofa), every listener is offered a voice that, as often as not, will help dictate the narrative of the day’s play. In so doing, we aim to cement the enjoyment of a new breed of cricket listener – ones who, like those who will doubtless enter their blog comments below – want a conversation with their commentators, not a lecture.

Different audience: The Test Match Sofa crew pose up

Different audience: The Test Match Sofa crew pose up

Surely, if any BBC institution could still be relied upon to uphold the company's Reithian principles it should be TMS, the voice of cricket for more than half a century and, let's be frank about this, the very reason why Norcross and his colleagues were inspired to establish the Sofa in the first place.

Without exception, the Sofa team venerates TMS. Every one of the enthusiastic amateurs who give up their own time to watch cricket in a windowless studio do so because their youths were misspent with radios under their pillows and Wisdens in their stockings.

Front row, from left, Henry Blofeld, Jonathan Agnew and scorer Bill Frindall. Back row from left, producer Peter Baxter, assistant producer Shilpa Patel, Vic Marks, Mike Selvey, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Colin Croft and Tony Cozier

Window to the world: Members of the BBC Radio Test Match Special team in the commentary box at Lord's with the window cut out on the far right. Front row, from left, Henry Blofeld, Jonathan Agnew and scorer Bill Frindall. Back row from left, producer Peter Baxter, assistant producer Shilpa Patel, Vic Marks, Mike Selvey, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Colin Croft and Tony Cozier

… AND WHAT IS TEST MATCH SPECIAL

Test Match Special (known as TMS) provides ball-by-ball coverage of most Test cricket, One Day International, and Twenty20 matches and tournaments involving England.

It is, rightly, considered by most cricket lovers THE place to listen to coverage of England matches.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan and former professional cricketer Jonathan Agnew commentate for BBC Test Match Special

BBC Radio was the first broadcaster to cover every ball of a Test match.

TMS is broadcast on Radio 4 long wave (198 LW). At times of cricket matches, the normal BBC Radio 4 schedule continues on its FM frequencies, while longwave is taken over by the cricket. This has sparked controversy with some Radio 4 listeners unable to change frequencies. The shipping forecast is, however, retained. TMS can also be heard via the Internet.

TMS's coverage of England's tour to India had been under threat over fees demanded by the Indian board to broadcast from the grounds.

However, TMS producer Adam Mountford revealed on Twitter on Thursday that a deal had finally been reached.

'We are pleased to confirm that Test Match Special will broadcast England's cricket tour of India from the grounds,' he said.

Follow Adam Mountford on Twitter @tmsproducer

Jonathan Agnew and Christopher
Martin-Jenkins remain two of the greatest broadcasters of any
generation. But as a homogenized TMS leans more and more on ex-pros and
multi-sports specialists to fill the vacancies that crop up in the
course of time, one wonders where the next John Arlotts and Brian
Johnstons will appear to infuse cricket commentary with the whimsy and
digressions of old I’d suggest, right now, the Sofa is the likelier of
the breeding grounds.

And yet, TMS is still the undisputed master of the airwaves. Earlier this year, the question was put to me, rhetorically, what would happen if the BBC chose to stop broadcasting from the grounds and tried to do it off the telly On account of the India access row, we might be about to find out … and I think the answer has come as a greater surprise to the BBC.

Peter Baxter, the former TMS producer, understood the value of his product (and by extension the rights that the BBC pay) when in 1999, he demanded that a special window be cut in the middle of the enormous sheet of glass covering the front of the new Lord’s media centre. Quite rightly, he wanted to be able to dangle his effects mike into the crowd to provide total aural immersion to TMS’s legions of listeners.

That sense of being there is priceless – it’s the hum of contented silence that tells you you’ve twiddled your long-wave radio to the right frequency – and it’s something that the BCCI, rarely slow to spot a changing trend, have recognised.

Radio rights per se are irrelevant in the internet age. You can no sooner stop Test Match Sofa from commenting on the action than demand silence while fans watch it in the pub. The true value lies in being able to call it from the ground. Remarkably, it has taken the Sofa’s existence to remind TMS quite how important they are.

Andrew Miller is editor of The
Cricketer magazine, who own TestMatchSofa.com

AGGERS HITS BACK AND BROAD JOINS ARGUMENT

After reading the Cricketer on Thursday, Test Match Special presenter Jonathan Agnew tweeted: 'I've never read such hypocrisy & assumed knowledge as that spouted by the once great Cricketer magazine today. I won't be reading it again.'

England's Twenty20 captain and former Sportsmail columnist Stuart Broad also weighed in to the argument, saying: 'Don't read the media Aggers… What have I told you!! Can only bring negativity to your world!'

Hillsborough latest: Liverpool fans to mark papers release with minutes applause

Liverpool fans to mark Hillsborough truth coming out with applause after six minutes

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UPDATED:

21:22 GMT, 14 September 2012

A call for Liverpool fans to mark the efforts of Hillsborough campaigners with a minute’s applause six minutes into Saturday’s game is gaining momentum.

It was also revealed that Liverpool and
Sunderland players will wear black armbands at the Stadium of Light in memory of the 96 Hillsborough victims.

It comes as Sir Alex Ferguson has called for an end to the hostility between Manchester United and Liverpool.

Showing their respects: The Liverpool players will wear black armbands to remember the 96 fans who died at Hillsborough in 1989

Showing their respects: The Liverpool players will wear black armbands to remember the 96 fans who died at Hillsborough in 1989

The north west giants have a long history and a bitter rivalry both on and off the pitch.

But following the release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report – which cleared Liverpool supporters of any blame in the 1989 tragedy in which 96 supporters died – Ferguson is keen for a better relationship and more friendly rivalry to develop.

Call a halt: Sir Alex Ferguson wants an end to vile chants at stadiums

Call a halt: Sir Alex Ferguson wants an end to vile chants at stadiums

'We are two great clubs, ourselves and Liverpool,' said Ferguson, ahead of Saturday's clash with Wigan. 'We should understand each other's problems. Maybe a line will be drawn in the sand in terms of their behaviour towards each other.'

Following Wednesday's revelations, Liverpool boss Rodgers added his own sentiments to those of Sir Matt Busby’s son, Sandy, and Reds legend Robbie Fowler, who condemned songs about Hillsborough and Munich.

He said: 'I speak as a human being and I don't ever like to hear anything like that associating other clubs' tragedies and death.

'But let’s hope that we can all move on and hopefully we will all learn from this process.'

The teams face each other next weekend at Anfield, and will be hoping for none of the controversy of last season.

Liverpool forward Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches after racially abusing Patrice Evra when the sides met last October at Anfield.

Fight goes on: Family and friends of the the victims of Hillsborough finally succeeded in getting disclosure of the independent report into the 1989 disaster

Fight goes on: Family and friends of the the victims of Hillsborough finally succeeded in getting disclosure of the independent report into the 1989 disaster

Fight goes on: Family and friends of the the victims of Hillsborough finally succeeded in getting disclosure of the independent report into the 1989 disaster

He then refused to shake the
defender's hand before the game at Old Trafford in February this year,
sparking an ill-tempered game which United won 2-1.

Other previous matches between the teams
have been marred by chants about United’s 1958 Munich air disaster and
the tragedies involving Liverpool at Heysel and Hillsborough.

Tense: Meetings between the two sides have been fraught with controversy on the pitch, especially recently following the race row between Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez

Tense: Meetings between the two sides have been fraught with controversy on the pitch, especially recently following the race row between Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill said the game, which is close to a sell-out, will be ‘highly-charged’.

That will particularly be the case for visiting supporters and the Liverpool squad, especially captain Steven Gerrard, whose 10-year-old cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley died in the disaster.

O’Neill said: ‘It is a total vindication for the Liverpool people who felt it was worthy to fight it all the way. They must draw some sort of comfort from this, even though 96 people lost their lives.’

John Terry racism trial: Chelsea captain arrives at court for Anton Ferdinand showdown

Terry 'racially abused' Ferdinand after taunts over alleged affair, court hears

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UPDATED:

10:52 GMT, 9 July 2012

Trial at Westminster Magistrates' Court expected to last five days

Terry faces maximum fine of 2,500 but no prospect of jail

FA inquiry has been postponed until after criminal case

Chelsea captain and England international John Terry called Anton Ferdinand a racist obscenity in response to taunts about his alleged affair with a team-mate's ex-girlfriend, a court has heard.

The 31-year-old allegedly called QPR defender Ferdinand a 'f****** black c***'.

Terry is accused of a racially aggravated public order offence during a Barclays Premier League match on October 23 last year, which was broadcast to millions of people.

Scroll down for video
In the dock: The Chelsea captain arrived at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday morning

In the dock: The Chelsea captain arrived at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday morning

Appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, Terry sat in the dock wearing a light grey suit, white shirt and pink tie.

The court heard that Terry told Ferdinand to 'f*** off” and also called him a “f****** k*******' as the pair exchanged insults.

Opening the prosecution, Duncan Penny
said: 'The Crown alleges that the words he used demonstrated hostility
based on Mr Ferdinand's membership or presumed membership of a racial
group.

Accused: Terry denies any wrongdoing after being charged with shouting an offensive comment to Ferdinand

Accused: Terry denies any wrongdoing after being charged with shouting an offensive comment to Ferdinand

The court heard that Terry maintains he was only sarcastically repeating words that Ferdinand wrongly thought he had used.

Mr Penny said: 'The Crown alleges
that the defendant, most probably in response to physical gestures being
made by Mr Ferdinand which the defendant understood to refer to the
well-publicised allegation of an extra-marital affair with a team-mate's
wife, shouted at Mr Ferdinand.'

No sentence: Terry doesn't face a jail term

No sentence: Terry doesn't face a jail term

He went on: 'The Crown's case is
that the words were abusive and insulting in a straightforward sense and
that the term 'f****** black c***' was uttered as an abusive insult
demonstrating hostility based on Mr Ferdinand's membership of a racial
group.

'They were uttered by the defendant
in response to goading by Mr Ferdinand on the issue of his extra-marital
affair, rather than by way of exaggerated and instant querying of a
perceived false allegation.'

Terry was allowed out of the dock into the well of the court to view footage of the alleged insult.

Before the case started, defence barrister George Carter-Stephenson QC asked for Terry to be allowed to sit beside him in the well of the court rather than in the dock.

District Judge Howard Riddle rejected the request.

Manchester United defender Rio
Ferdinand, controversially axed from Roy Hodgson's 23-man Euro 2012 squad,
tweeted support for his brother on Monday.

'Morning all! Frazzled head this morning, school run done! @anton_ferdinand head high bruv,' Ferdinand said.

Terry denies any wrongdoing and has
hired the services of experienced and highly respected QC, George
Carter-Stephenson, to lead his defence.

Terry was dropped as England captain
by the Football Association once his trial date was set for after Euro
2012, and that axing led to Fabio Capello's resignation as manager and
the appointment of Roy Hodgson.

Impressive: Terry starred for England at this summer's European Championships

Impressive: Terry starred for England at this summer's European Championships

Hodgson selected Terry in his squad
for the championship in Ukraine and Poland and the central defender
played in all four of England's games at the tournament before their
elimination on penalties by Italy.

The
Chelsea defender, who did not say anything when asked for comment on
his arrival at court, takes to the dock facing a maximum fine of 2,500
if he is found guilty. There is no prospect of any jail sentence. The
trial is expected to last for five days.

Police protection: Terry wore a pink tie and grey suit for the first day of his trial

Police protection: Terry wore a pink tie and grey suit for the first day of his trial

The case is being heard by Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle, and there is no jury.

Both television clips and unbroadcast footage of the incident, which would normally be used for training purposes, were shown to the court.

It is claimed that Ferdinand said something about 'shagging ya mate's missus' and made fist gestures, before Terry responded.

The
court was told that Chelsea team-mates Ashley Cole and John Obi Mikel
were nearby when insults were traded, but they will not be called as
witnesses as part of the prosecution case.

Terry
said in a statement to the Football Association five days after the
incident that he and Ferdinand had been exchanging 'verbals' and he had
made a gesture to imply Mr Ferdinand had bad breath.

He said: 'We're still having a, sort of, ding-dong, if you like. That's when, as I said before, he said “black c***”.

'Now clearly, as I said before, I don't think he's calling me a black c***, but at the same time I take quite a strong offence.'

Centre of attention: Members of the media flocked to Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday

Centre of attention: Members of the media flocked to Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday

The England defender said he was not offended by the taunts about the alleged affair with Wayne Bridge's ex-girlfriend, because 'it's not the first time I've heard it, so it's with a pinch of salt a little bit now'.

However he said he was angered by any accusation that he might have used a racist insult. After the match, which took place at QPR's ground Loftus Road, Terry asked a steward to get Ferdinand from the QPR dressing room.

Terry said in his statement: 'It's myself, Anton and Ash (Ashley Cole), nobody else, and I said to Anton, “was you accusing me of calling you a black c***”

'Frazzled head this morning. @anton_ferdinand head high bruv'
Rio Ferdinand on Twitter

'That was my exact words to him, and he said “No, not at all.”'

Later in the interview Terry added: 'I'm being honest and open with you guys, that I didn't mean it in the context that, if you watch the video and me, watching the video, you can quite easily say that doesn't look good.

'But at the same time, in the context of what I thought Anton accused me of, you know, no-one can argue what my feelings were at that time.'

Immediately after the match, Ferdinand did not think that Terry had used racist words, the court heard.

He said: 'It's handbags innit – it's what happens on the pitch', and the two shook hands. But later, Ferdinand's girlfriend showed him footage posted on YouTube, and he believed Terry had used the racist insult.

It is claimed that Ferdinand made a reference to 'shagging Bridge's missus' during the exchange.

In a statement made to police last November, Terry said he was offended by the accusation that he had used racist language.

He said his words to the other player were meant to make it clear that he had not used a racist insult, and that Ferdinand was a 'k*******' for thinking that he had.

The statement read: 'Whilst footballers are used to industrial language, using racist terms is completely unacceptable whatever (the) situation.

'I was completely taken aback by this remark as I have never been accused of something like that and I did not take his remark lightly at all, and took strong offence to his suggestion.'

Video: John Terry arrives and goes through security at Westminster Magistrates Court

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England coach Stuart Lancaster calls for attitude at altitude

Lancaster calls for attitude at altitude as England seek to hit new heights

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UPDATED:

19:59 GMT, 15 June 2012

England will attempt to harness a
healthy dose of fear at the Springboks' stronghold of Ellis Park
to keep this Test series alive.

However brutal and draining the
experience of losing 22-17 to the host nation in the first Test in Durban last Saturday, Stuart Lancaster's players are braced for an
altogether more arduous ordeal here at altitude on the Highveld when
they bid to defy the odds and produce an upset.

In your face: England will face a hostile crowd in Johannesburg

In your face: England will face a hostile crowd in Johannesburg

S Africa VS England

Some 6,000ft above sea level, the reshuffled, raw national team must contend with the thin air that will burn their lungs. There is also the small matter of the heavyweight Bok artillery of thunderous ball carrying and sustained aerial barrage.

Whatever the opposition hurl at England, it will be matched by the stifling intensity of the occasion at the Johannesburg venue renowned for the hostility of the home crowd. South Africa have a 70 per cent success rate at the stadium, which staged the 1995 World Cup final when the Boks ambushed favourites New Zealand to claim the Webb Ellis Cup. That episode enhanced the forbidding aura at Ellis Park, but the Lions won 28-9 there in 2009.

Graham Rowntree, the England forwards coach who was part of the management team then, hopes that England will be galvanised by playing here. 'It is an inspiring place – the Springboks' spiritual home,' he said. 'That's the beauty of these young men playing in these big stadiums steeped in history – it's such a great experience for them.

'I have fantastic memories of going there with the Lions and winning three years ago and I would love this to be as great an occasion as that was,' added Rowntree.

'You have to be turned on by the fear of going to play in these big stadiums in front of passionate home support. We have to use that to drive us on.'

High point: Chris Robshaw knows England are up against it

High point: Chris Robshaw knows England are up against it

As for the altitude factor, England have been at pains to play down its significance. However, the midweek team sampled the Highveld air on Wednesday. Test captain Chris Robshaw said: 'It's pretty tough. They passed on their experience of it and we've been training at altitude, but we won't really know what it's like until we get out there.'

Familiarity means that the conditions will work in favour of the hosts – assisting their lethal kicking game as the ball travels further – and they are more used to adjusting accordingly. England kicked and chased poorly last week, and they know that aspect of their game must improve.

Gamble: Stuart Lancaster has had to make changes

Gamble: Stuart Lancaster has had to make changes

Given the adventurous team selected by Lancaster and his assistants, the hope is that England will play with more attacking purpose and freedom and avoid becoming embroiled in another arm-wrestling contest. Robshaw alluded to that, saying: 'We played into their hands a bit last week. We have to have more balance. We need to move them round more and focus on what we are good at by playing with tempo.'

Toby Flood has been recalled to unlock the potential in the new-look back line by playing flat and opening gaps with subtle, clever distribution. One of the men aiming to benefit from his passing is London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph, who is making his full Test debut. The 21-year-old is determined to stay true to his attacking tendencies as he forms a new combination with Manu Tuilagi.

'It would be pointless being on the
pitch if I wasn't going to give it a real go,' said Joseph. 'I'm going
to stick to my game and hopefully it'll go well. They're big boys but
I'm ready to challenge them. I'm looking forward to it. I want to go
out there and prove a point.'

England are in enforced experimentation mode following the injuries to Brad Barritt and Mike Brown.

Adversity has created an opportunity and the 10-12-13 area now has a
balanced and potent look about it, although such optimism is based on
mere theory at this stage.

Nevertheless, the management have been bold in their selection so now
it just remains to be similarly daring in on-field intent. England will
not beat the Boks in a tight tussle, so they must aim to stretch them
in the wide areas.

Yet, as
is always the case, they can do so only from a solid platform. Rowntree
admitted that last week's effort in the scrum was 'unacceptable', so the
visitors are bound to be better in that crucial area this time.

They also need a strong carrying contribution from No 8 Ben Morgan, along with – at some stage – Thomas Waldrom, who was yesterday promoted to the bench after Phil Dowson withdrew with a tight hamstring.

However, even in likely defeat, England can provide hope for the future, as long as the onus shifts from being reactive to proactive, from absorbing to threatening, from containing to challenging.

Birmingham City warn West Brom off Chris Hughton

Hands off! Birmingham tell rivals West Brom that Hughton is staying put

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UPDATED:

22:38 GMT, 22 May 2012

Birmingham City have sent a message to West Bromwich Albion that any approach for manager Chris Hughton will be unwelcome.

It is the second time inside 12 months that the Blues face losing their manager to a rival following Alex McLeish’s defection to Aston Villa.

Wanted man: West Brom would like Chris Hughton to replace Roy Hodgson

Wanted man: West Brom would like Chris Hughton to replace Roy Hodgson

A Birmingham source said that any attention would be treated as ‘hostile’ and the clubs’ healthy working relationship would be jeopardised if contact was made through anything other than official channels.

West Bromwich are still hopeful of persuading Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster to join on a permanent basis and, while the clubs were able to thrash out a loan agreement 12 months ago, bitterness over the managerial situation could jeopardise a move for the former England man.

Target: West Brom want to secure the permanent services of Foster

Target: West Brom want to secure the permanent services of Foster

There is also an opening at the Hawthorns for an assistant. That proved a stumbling block 12 months ago when Roy Hodgson took the job.

Hughton would be free to take Colin Calderwood with him, but that would also be met with hostility by Birmingham.