Tag Archives: imagination

Bradley Wiggins wins Sports Personality of the Year and celebrates like a rockstar

Ace racer to rockstar! Wiggins swaps Tour de France for tour de force on party scene

|

UPDATED:

23:19 GMT, 17 December 2012

Asked how he would celebrate being voted the nation’s Sports Personality of the Year, Bradley Wiggins winked.

‘I will go home and have a cup of tea,’ he said before breaking into a smile. ‘It’s a free bar so it would be rude not to give it a hiding.’ That sounds more like it.

Seven hours later a bleary-eyed Wiggins was photographed in a McDonald’s; his blue velvet double-breasted suit from a Soho tailor looking more than a tad dishevelled.

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

He had already treated the guests at the BBC’s after-show party to a rendition of The Jam’s That’s Entertainment and Wonderwall by Oasis and then carried on celebrating with his wife, Cath, at a central London nightclub. Not bad for Great Britain’s first winner of the Tour de France, surely one of the fittest athletes on the planet.

But then Wiggins, as Lord Coe put it on Sunday night, has ‘that rock star quality’.

He manages to be the last man standing after five hours of cycling on brutal terrain or a long drinking session in the pub; looking equally at home in his racing Lycra or with a bottle of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

‘He just cuts it,’ said Coe. ‘Bradley is where it is at the moment. I think it is an unbelievable year that he has had but he is just edgy, isn’t he Sporting characters have got to capture the public imagination and he does that.’

Wiggins might have a penchant for Paul Weller but he was certainly not buying into the suggestion he has reached rock-star status by wearing the yellow jersey and winning seven Olympic medals, four of them gold.

Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London

Pub talk: Bradley Wiggins kisses the iconic trophy last night (left) and (right) thanks his nan in his speech

Over to you, Sue: Sue Barker (left) chats to Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London last night

Over to you, Sue: Sue Barker (left) chats to Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London last night

the Farmers Arms in Heskin

The Farmers Arms in Heskin will be the first pub that the Tour de France winner takes his award to

‘I won the Tour de France,’ said
Wiggins. ‘Without this award I would still be me. I am just very
grateful to everyone who has helped me. There’s only the knighthood to
come, isn’t there, really’

Few knights of the realm, though, would give their Sports Personality of the Year award to their nan for safekeeping.

Even fewer would then take it on a
tour of the pubs near their home in Lancashire: the Farmers Arms in
Heskin and the Original Farmers Arms in Eccleston. Their hosts told
Sportsmail yesterday they would be delighted to look after the famous
trophy.

‘It would be
absolutely great,’ said Ann Rothwell, landlady of the Farmers Arms. ‘He
lives in between the two pubs and he does pop in here now and again, but
he’s an athlete, isn’t he He doesn’t frequent the pub that often.’

When he does, you imagine Wiggins might indulge in more than one glass of his favourite tipple: vodka and tonic.

Dave Brailsford, performance director
of British Cycling, recognised Wiggins’s talent as soon as he saw his
body shape and the ‘fluid’ way he pedals, but there was something else
that showed ‘this young lad was special’.

Support: Barry Newton, landlord of the Original Farmers Arms, said that Wiggo had a lot of support in the pub

Support: Barry Newton, landlord of the Original Farmers Arms, said that Wiggo had a lot of support in the pub

‘Once he decides he wants to do something — like all the greats — he really does make it,’ said Brailsford.

‘There’s something reminiscent of
David Beckham practising free-kicks, of Jonny Wilkinson (practising his
kicking) in Brad. It’s that type of obsession he has.’

The desire to achieve remains, too.
Wiggins has repeatedly stated he wants to win another Tour de France,
forcing Team Sky into a difficult decision as to whether the defending
champion, Chris Froome or both lead the team next year.

But the ‘obsession’ remains for
Wiggins, who needed a search party to track him down during a training
camp in Majorca last week, such was his eagerness to do ‘just that
little bit more’.

Suits you: Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins shows off the trophy

Suits you: Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins shows off the trophy

‘Bradley’s capacity to work hard is
unbelievable,’ said Brailsford. ‘It’s off the scale. But he’s learnt how
to manage himself and his sport and he’s become an extremely coachable
rider.

'He was up at 7.30 in the gym in
Majorca. He did five hours (on the bike) then went out on his own and
did another couple of hours.

‘Two days ago we actually sent
somebody out to look for him because it was starting to get dark and we
thought, “Where’s Brad” He had gone just that bit more.’

Perhaps we should all raise a glass to that.

Scott Styris smash can"t hide need for a T20 overhaul – World of Cricket

Smash-hit Styris can't hide need for overhaul of county T20 game

|

UPDATED:

01:08 GMT, 26 July 2012


Smash hit: Scott Styris hit 100 from just 37 balls for Sussex against Gloucestershire on Tuesday night

Smash hit: Scott Styris hit 100 from just 37 balls for Sussex against Gloucestershire on Tuesday night

That was how it was meant to be. A packed house, sunshine and spectacular, fun cricket. Watching Scott Styris of Sussex demolish Gloucestershire with a century off just 37 balls in the Twenty20 quarter-final at Hove was a reminder of just why the short-form ‘monster’ that England created took the world game by storm.

It is not normally like that now. Not in England, anyway. OK, the weather has been dismal in the main, but this year’s Friends Life t20 has looked a tournament in desperate need of an overhaul. The goose that laid the golden egg has looked well and truly cooked and ready to be served up for a last supper.

During one of this year’s many rain breaks the other week, Sky showed a re-run of the 2008 Twenty20 final at the Rose Bowl when I reckon the ‘new’ format was very much at its peak. There was a cracking final between Kent and Middlesex. Bumble at his absolute best on the mic, Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame sitting with the players in the dug-out and a young lad dancing in the stands who was to become something of a symbol of all that was good about Twenty20.

My sports editor was so taken by it that Sportsmail devoted its main feature pages to finals day the following Monday, the only time in my memory that county cricket has so captured popular imagination. It has been downhill since then.

There are many reasons for that. Too many games, of course. Counties playing their matches too closely together — this year Surrey, for example, played four games in a week and then had a week off — and a bonkers schedule and start times.

Glory days: Eoin Morgan celebrates Middlesex's T20 triumph in 2008

Glory days: Eoin Morgan celebrates Middlesex's T20 triumph in 2008

Prices are too high, too, at 20-25
for adults and 10-15 for children. With home games clustered together
how can families possibly afford to go to every match

Tuesday’s first two quarter-finals, crucially played at two of the smaller county venues in Taunton and Hove that still often put up the ‘full house’ signs, was a reminder of how good it still can be when it gets to knockout cricket. So were Wednesday’s clashes at Headingley and Trent Bridge.

But, of course, the ECB have done their best to weaken the competition still further by moving finals day from the middle of summer, where it was so well suited, to the football season at the end of August.

More from Paul Newman…

Paul Newman: Let's enjoy Pietersen. We'll miss him when he's gone
18/07/12

Paul Newman: Smith looking vulnerable as Boucher era comes to end
11/07/12

Paul Newman: Tremlett is back and ready to hit the heights once more
04/07/12

Paul Newman: It's hardly the Ashes but Aussie duels will set hearts racing…
27/06/12

Paul Newman: Rotation is right way to protect England's top players
20/06/12

Paul Newman: Flower must stay firm while IPL is calling the shots for KP
13/06/12

World of Cricket: This Aussie overkill can only damage the game's great rivalry
06/06/12

Paul Newman: Cherish flair and leave alone Pietersen's stroke of genius
30/05/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

This year it’s on August 25 in Cardiff, the day after a one-day international at the Swalec Stadium which will also compete for the Welsh pound.

A quick survey on Twitter conducted while watching the pyrotechnics of Styris revealed some interesting views on the future of Twenty20 in this country. What do you want to see, I asked.

‘Nothing wrong with T20, just needs good weather and the rest looks after itself,’ said Mike Gidley.

‘Needs a serious shake-up. Franchises only way to attract best T20 players,’ said James Morrison.

‘How can anyone advocate franchise cricket if it takes games away from packed grounds like Taunton’ asked RM.

Alec Swann, a former player, brother of Graeme and now a respected cricket writer, had the final word. ‘Don’t be fooled by the knockout stages. The majority of group games suggest a competition that’s way past its sell-by date,’ wrote Swann.

I agree with Alec. Something needs to be done. I have always been suspicious of franchises.

We are a tribal lot, after all, so would we really warm to teams representing London, Birmingham and Manchester But maybe it’s worth a go. The counties would just have to lump it. It would be them who would be bailed out financially yet again if franchises worked. It would be fun to see if they would.

Ouch!

Spare a thought for James Fuller, who probably wishes Twenty20 would disappear altogether after going for 38 — yes, 38 — in a single over at the hands of Styris.

The 22-year-old, originally from Cape Town, will go down as the bowler who delivered the most expensive over in professional cricket history.

It went like this: A beamer which went to the boundary (six, including two for the no-ball); no-ball four (six); free-hit full toss over square leg for six; another full toss, another six; back-of-a-length ball glided down to fine leg for four; a dot ball (glory be!); a top-edged pull for four and a six over long on.

Poor Fuller had a wry smile on his face at the end of the over. He will need to retain his sense of humour to recover from that.

Bumble's Final Word

Twenty20 was rocking again on Tuesday with two quarter-finals at grounds packed to the rafters and it just goes to show you what a difference sunshine makes to any cricket. I can promise you the games were full on, too.

But I’m still in favour of a city-based franchise competition for the future of T20 in this country. We have to accept that we have a low-key product and are the poor relations of the Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash.

Razzmatazz: English T20 cricket needs a touch of the IPL glamour

Razzmatazz: English T20 cricket needs a touch of the IPL glamour

Most of the counties are cash-strapped but this would bring new money to the game and, crucially, would work around the counties. It would be radical but it would have razzmatazz. And it would be exciting. Start a very different car…

England thrashed by South Africa in first Test at the Oval

No 1 The crown is slipping and devastating defeat gives Strauss serious problems

|

UPDATED:

23:16 GMT, 23 July 2012

It does not get much worse than this. Never have England lost a Test while taking only two wickets and rarely, at least under Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss, have they looked so utterly outplayed and devoid of ideas and imagination.

Best team in the world Not on this evidence. That hard-earned status is hanging by a thread.

England must beat South Africa at Headingley or Lord’s and avoid defeat in the other Test to remain No 1 and, while that is not beyond them, it will take a mighty improvement on this sorry showing. Whisper it, but England could even slip below Australia if they lose this series 3-0.

Timber: Ravi Bopara is bowled by Dale Steyn on day five of the first Test at the Oval

Timber: Ravi Bopara is bowled by Dale Steyn on day five of the first Test at the Oval

England lose to South Africa

They will shudder at that. Shudder at how they could crash to the most emphatic and demoralising defeat under the reign of the two men who have done so much to transform England into the well-drilled outfit of the last three years. It is a desperately difficult defeat to explain.

Put simply, England were marmalised. They had their chance when they won an important toss and battled to a position of some authority on day one against a South Africa team who looked under-cooked and almost lethargic amid claims the best bowler in the world, Dale Steyn, was carrying an injury. How misplaced those suggestions seem now, after the tourists won their first Test at The Oval — at the 14th attempt — in style.

Not only did South Africa and Steyn come roaring back to the point where, after treating England with all the disdain they would reserve for Bangladesh, they steamrollered their way to victory by an innings and 12 runs. They also inflicted enough psychological blows to carry a significant advantage into the rest of the series. The need for England to make the most of the week they have before the build-up for the second Investec Test begins is paramount.

This was their fifth defeat in nine Tests since thrashing India to go top of the world last year and life will not get easier when they make the return journey to the subcontinent this winter.

Steam Steyn: The fast bowler (left) celebrates after bowling Bopara for 22 runs on Monday morning

Steam Steyn: The fast bowler (left) celebrates after bowling Bopara for 22 runs on Monday morning

Delaying the inevitable: Ian Bell was the only leading batsman who offered any form of resistance, scoring 55

Delaying the inevitable: Ian Bell was the only leading batsman who offered any form of resistance, scoring 55

If they lose this series heavily — and they have now lost their last two Tests against South Africa by an innings — they could easily slip down the ICC ladder as quickly as they climbed to the top of it.

England will let the dust settle before they decide what needs to be done to overturn a defeat in which they could take just those two wickets in 189 overs and capitulated twice with the bat in the home conditions that normally bring out the best in them. There will be no knee-jerk reaction and English cricket is all the better for that.

But if, as they could well do, they throw the same 11 players into battle at Leeds they must have many more plans to dismiss the outstanding South Africa batsmen and insist on much more application from their own. Too many threw their wickets away with the carelessness that Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis simply do not possess.

The damage had been done ahead of the final day but England were still their own worst enemies on Monday. They handed victory to South Africa on a plate when they should have been capable of making the visitors sweat before completing their demolition job.

England’s hopes, with four top batsmen gone, rested with the overnight pair of Ravi Bopara and Ian Bell and next man in Matt Prior, but all three departed to shots they will want to forget, as Kevin Pietersen and Strauss had done on Sunday.

Rare counter-attack: Bell hits out on the way to his half-century at the Oval on Monday

Rare counter-attack: Bell hits out on the way to his half-century at the Oval on Monday

Jacques won't let this one slip: Matt Prior edges a ball from Imran Tahir and is caught by Kallis (left)

Jacques won't let this one slip: Matt Prior edges a ball from Imran Tahir and is caught by Kallis (left)

South Africa’s attack is good enough as it is without England offering gifts. Bopara, looking to be positive, threw his bat too hard at a wide one from Steyn and crashed the ball into his stumps for his second soft dismissal of the match barely half an hour into the final day. He will survive for Headingley, and rightly, because the days of chopping and changing after one game of a series are gone, but the evidence to suggest Bopara will never be temperamentally suited to the ultimate form of the game is sadly growing.

England were then offered hope. Bell and Prior batted sensibly in adding 86 for the sixth wicket and it was possible to discern a hint of concern among the South Africans. If the pair had got through to tea, England might have dared to dream of another great escape to add to those in Cardiff, Centurion and Cape Town in recent times. As it turned out the whole team could not make it to tea.

England’s last realistic hope departed with Prior. He had looked comfortable before, two overs ahead of the second new ball, aiming the first sweep of the day at an Imran Tahir ball from round the wicket that spat out of the rough. Prior could barely believe it as he top-edged to slip and had to drag himself off with the game all but up.

Winning feeling: Tahir celebrates after dismissing Prior after lunch on day five in south London

Winning feeling: Tahir celebrates after dismissing Prior after lunch on day five in south London

When Bell offered one of the safest slippers in the world Kallis further catching practice by holding his bat out to Steyn, Graeme Smith might as well have headed to the airport to fly home for the birth of his first child.

As it was the captain hung around to apply the final rites, with Steyn roaring ‘five’ when he dismissed Graeme Swann for his 18th five-wicket haul in Test cricket. If Steyn is unfit then woe betide England when he has recovered.

It will take a lot for England to recover from this. Initially they must decide whether the pain that Swann still feels in his elbow was in any way responsible for his 52 wicketless overs here and whether Stuart Broad was simply off-colour or suffering an injury of his own.

Then they can decide whether Steven Finn and, possibly, Graham Onions come into the equation but they will not lose faith with the men who took them to the top. They will just demand significant improvement. It is imperative for England that it comes quickly.

F1: McLaren must get it right in Monaco or risk driving Lewis Hamilton away

No mistake, McLaren must get it right in Monaco or risk driving unhappy Hamilton away

|

UPDATED:

21:11 GMT, 19 May 2012

Unhappy: Lewis Hamilton

Unhappy: Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has delivered the finest performances of his career during what has already been a Formula One season of high drama.

But as he prepares for the unique challenge of next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, his McLaren team know they cannot afford to make any more blunders.

Hamilton, whose career has been inextricably linked with McLaren, adores the racing on the unforgiving streets of the world's most glamorous, yet treacherous, circuit and will be focused solely on winning.

But his contract expires at the end of this year – and McLaren cannot assume he will remain with the team.

While his loyalty to McLaren has been paramount, his career is nearing a crossroads. His team are aware of what is at stake – beginning with the need to provide unblemished support for Hamilton and his team-mate, Jenson Button, in Monaco where McLaren have won on 15 occasions, more than any other team.

After being static in recent years, the driver market at the front of the grid could be busy this summer.

At Ferrari, Felipe Massa is destined to be released at the end of the season, if not before. The 31- year-old Brazilian has scored just two points in five races and the Ferrari team have warned: 'Everyone, he more than anyone, is expecting a change of gear starting right away with the Monaco Grand Prix.'

And it is understood that Hamilton's previously strained relationship with Ferrari's superstar No 1, Fernando Alonso, has thawed beyond imagination in recent months.

Frustrated: Hamilton was left to count the cost of Barcelona blunder

Frustrated: Hamilton was left to count the cost of Barcelona blunder

In Barcelona last weekend, a reliable paddock source said: 'Lewis and Fernando have been swapping race helmets and regularly speak to one another on the parade laps before races.'

After an acrimonious year together at McLaren in 2007, when Alonso was disparaging towards Hamilton's dazzling arrival in Formula One with a team where he had been embedded since he was 13, the two drivers seemed to have irreconcilable differences. However, nothing heals wounds faster in Formula One than the need to assume a bargaining position.

HOW IT'S ALL GONE WRONG IN 2012

Spanish GP, May 13

Ran out of fuel in qualifying and demoted from pole to the back of the grid as a
penalty.

Started 24th Finished 8th

Points lost 21

Bahrain GP, April 22

Two different wheel nut problems at separate pit stops.

Started 2nd Finished 8th

Points lost 21

Malaysian GP, March 25

Called in for first pit-stop at a bad time and delayed by other cars, then problems in successive stops.

Started 1st Finished 3rd

Points lost 10

Chinese GP, April 15

A change of gearbox in qualifying brought a fiveplace grid penalty.

Started 7th Finished 3rd

Points lost 10

Hamilton would never accept being No 2 to Alonso – or anyone else. But the sport's history is littered with deals being brokered to keep all parties happy: Alain Prost, a double world champion, welcomed a young Ayrton Senna to McLaren as an equal only to be pushed into the margins in their second season together; then, Nigel Mansell surrendered No 1 status at Ferrari to accommodate Prost in return for the promise of a Ferrari, complete with engine, only to complain later that the Frenchman had turned the Scuderia against him.

Another option open to Hamilton could be a seat at Mercedes. For it is unclear if Michael Schumacher will be re-signed beyond this season even if he shows a willingness to continue.

Senior management figures at Mercedes would relish an opportunity to attract Hamilton, having worked closely with the 27-year-old British star during their years in partnership with McLaren. They would not shudder at having to improve Hamilton's current 15million-a-year salary. Even Red Bull could have a vacancy alongside double world champion Sebastian Vettel as Australian veteran Mark Webber, linked to Ferrari, has yet to be offered a new deal.

Intriguingly, Hamilton's management, headed by Simon Fuller, an expert in brinkmanship who has won enviable contracts for clients like David Beckham, Andy Murray and the Spice Girls, has yet to open negotiations with McLaren. Time is on Fuller's side.

Ultimately, Hamilton yearns only for a fast, reliable car. He cannot countenance the prospect of leaving Formula One with just one world championship, earned in his second year in the sport after missing out on the title in his rookie season by one point.

His incredible, forceful, yet measured drive in Barcelona showed him how competitive his McLaren is despite the unpredictability of this season's Pirelli tyres.

Under pressure: McLaren Mercedes Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh

Under pressure: McLaren Mercedes Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh

Had he not been penalised for a basic mistake by the McLaren mechanic in charge of refuelling his car – an error compounded by two calamitous pit-stops at the previous race in Bahrain – Hamilton would be arriving in Monaco with a handsome lead in the championship.

Instead, he is eight points behind Vettel and Alonso, despite having eradicated his erratic driving errors of last season, to win admiration for his maturity and measured performances.

Hamilton, who won the Monaco Grand Prix in his championship season in 2008, said on Friday evening: 'I'm coming off the back of two relatively disappointing results and there would be no better place for the cards to fall in my favour than at Monaco.'

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, under pressure to oversee a trouble-free race, insisted: 'We feel determined to string together a faul t less weekend and to demonstrate our full potential.'

The jury is still out, however. It is McLaren, not Hamilton, on trial on the streets of Monaco next weekend.

Martin Keown: Lionel Messi would have been proud of Ramires" goal

Messi would have been proud of Ramires' magical goal

|

UPDATED:

23:13 GMT, 24 April 2012

When I watched Ramires getting up and down the pitch at the Nou Camp, he was so fast it looked like he was on a motorbike at times.

He is so tenacious, a willing runner and has bags of energy — his ability to keep producing high-intensity runs is amazing.

It was just such a burst which brought Chelsea their goal in the first leg at Stamford Bridge and again last night.

Setting them on their way: Ramires scored Chelsea's first goal

Setting them on their way: Ramires scored Chelsea's first goal

A lot of players would be exhausted at the end of a run like that but he still had the energy to find a little piece of magic. It was a brilliant finish, full of imagination. It was something Lionel Messi would have been proud of.

When you are running at pace, it is a very difficult skill to scoop the ball like he did over keeper Victor Valdes.

We shouldn’t underestimate the courage it took, either — you have to be very brave to attempt something like that when the stakes are so high. It would have been much easier to take the ball around the keeper instead.

Touch of class: Ramires lobs Valdes

Touch of class: Ramires lobs Valdes

It was an exquisite pass from Frank Lampard, too — don’t forget it was he who passed to Ramires in the first leg, the Brazilian then crossing for Didier Drogba’s winner.

As good as Ramires’ finish was, I don’t think he would have scored if Gerard Pique had still been on the field. It was a huge blow for Barcelona to lose the former Manchester United man because he is so quick and is always sniffing out danger.

He would probably have seen Ramires’ run coming but Javier Mascherano is not a natural defender and Carles Puyol no longer has the legs to deal with a run like that. You can also see they desperately miss Eric Abidal’s pace.

Switching role: Lionel Messi would have been proud of Ramires' goal

Switching role: Lionel Messi would have been proud of Ramires' goal

Switched to the right after John Terry’s red card, Ramires was still trying to get forward in the second half. His only regret might be that for Andres Iniesta’s goal, he failed to track the Spaniard right to the end.

Overall, though, he was magnificent, doing the job of two players with the amount of ground he covered. He was disciplined off the ball and explosive on it.

Enlarge

Ramires wonder goal

Kell Brook confident of beatnig Matthew Hatton

Brook promises explosive fight as Britain's next star gears up for Hatton war

PUBLISHED:

11:25 GMT, 17 March 2012

|

UPDATED:

11:25 GMT, 17 March 2012

Kell Brook has vowed to thrive on the pressure of topping the bill in front of 10,000 fans when he fights Matthew Hatton in his home city of Sheffield tonight.

The unbeaten Yorkshireman takes on Manchester veteran Hatton in an intriguing welterweight battle at the Steel City's Motorpoint Arena.

Brook admits he is taking a risk by facing such a dangerous opponent when he is so close to a world title opportunity, having revealed he took a fight with Hatton rather than push on with negotiations for a shot at one of the major belts.

War of the Roses: Kell Brook (right) and Matthew Hatton face off at the weigh-in

War of the Roses: Kell Brook (right) and Matthew Hatton face off at the weigh-in

However, the 25-year-old insists it is a risk worth taking should he deliver on his promise to 'smash' Hatton and make a statement against a fighter respected across the world.

Brook, who has attracted a crowd of nearly 10,000 to his hometown venue, said: 'There's pressure on me now because of all the tickets I've sold and the profile of the fight.

'But I thrive on that pressure. It's going to be a proper fight that lives up to the hype and the expectation levels.

'They've called it 'War of the Roses' and, believe you me, we're going to get in there and have one hell of a fight.

'When all's said and done you're going to see an explosive fight.

War of the Roses: Kell Brook (right) and Matthew Hatton face off at the weigh-in

War of the Roses: Kell Brook (right) and Matthew Hatton face off at the weigh-in

'It's a risk because we didn't need to take this fight but I wanted it. It's captured the public's imagination, it's been on the horizon for years and we've finally got it on.'

Brook (26-0, 18KOs) added: 'We've sold around 10,000 tickets for this and you start wondering how much demand there would be to see a world title fight in Sheffield.'

Brook will start as the heavy favourite with bookmakers pricing Hatton as generously as 6-1. Hatton (42-5-2, 16KOs) has concealed any irritation at being regarded as such a glaring underdog.

'All the pressure is on Kell, going into this fight,' he said. 'He's the man fighting at home, he's the favourite to win, and he puts even more pressure on himself by making comments like he's been making, about 'smashing me' et cetera.

On the rise: Brook is seen by many as Britain's next world champion

On the rise: Brook is seen by many as Britain's next world champion

'There's no pressure on me. Talk is cheap, and I'll do my talking on Saturday night. He's been making a lot of big noises and he's got to back it up now.

'I don't dislike Kell Brook. He's just in the way of what I want to achieve in the sport in order to provide myself and my family with a better life.

'He'll just be brushed aside on Saturday night. It's not personal.'

On the undercard in South Yorkshire, exciting super-bantamweight prospect Carl Frampton, from Belfast, defends his Commonwealth crown against Prosper Ankrah, while Surrey-based Pole Grzegorz Proksa defends his European middleweight title against Wales' Kerry Hope.

Scott Parker England captain in 1993 McDonald"s World Cup advert

From McDonald's kid to England captain… re-live Parker's 1993 advert

As a 13-year-old in 1993, Scott Parker captured the nation's imagination as he showcased his skills on the small screen to launch McDonald's World Cup '94 advertising campaign.

Now, 19 years on, the Tottenham midfielder has the chance the make the country fall in love with with his footballing talent all over again as he prepares to lead England out as captain for the first time in the friendly against Holland at Wembley.

Click on the video below to re-live the former Charlton, Chelsea and West Ham star's memorable television advert for the burger chain giants.

Harry Redknapp plays it to perfection: PATRICK COLLINS

Hard to please Harry plays it to perfection

He sat bare-headed in the frozen evening, thrusting his hands into his padded jacket, puffing his cheeks in the numbing chill.

For a man of 64 years, he had endured a rather difficult week, but you would never have known it.

Stay at the Lane: A young Spurs fan makes his feelings known

Stay at the Lane: A young Spurs fan makes his feelings known

His expression of hang-dog concentration rarely changed. For one who sees himself as 'a giver, not a taker', Harry Redknapp gives very little away.

But we must assume he was content with events at White Hart Lane, because his Spurs were playing the football that he preaches and promotes.

It was one of those nights that managers remember when the bad times come along.

Warm reception: Redknapp (right) walks out of the tunnel

Warm reception: Redknapp (right) walks out of the tunnel

Everything his players did appeared instinctive. They expressed themselves with that leisurely freedom which is the product of savagely hard work.

For long, freewheeling passages of play, every pass seemed to find its target, every run produced its reward.

And everything was carried out at a pace which Newcastle could not match or master.

If you needed to know precisely why England have made Redknapp their primary, and perhaps their only target, then the reasons were flickering across the bone-hard pitch, playing with the imagination which makes them the most beguiling side in all the land.

Playing the game: The Tottenham manager applauds his side

Playing the game: The Tottenham manager applauds his side

And the manager was at the centre of everything, from start to finish. Ten minutes before kick-off, 21 authentic photographers and a man taking pictures with a mobile phone awaited his arrival.

The players emerged and walked past, almost unnoticed. The media were waiting for Harry.

When he arrived, it was singularly undramatic.

Others might have struck a few poses, offered the cameras a few knowing stares.

Harry merely walked out, gave his shoulders a couple of twitches and sat down.

Wave of optimism: Redknapp

Playing the game: The Tottenham manager applauds his side

Wave of hope: England could be the next job for Redknapp

The cameras flashed and clattered for half a minute. Harry stared solemnly ahead, like a man in a passport photo booth.

And then the singing started.

Inside 90 seconds, the Lane was bellowing, 'One Harry Redknapp'. Two and a half minutes, 'You're Spurs and you know you are'.

The cameras were awaiting a reaction, but Harry knows how the game is played and he didn't oblige.

He didn't even react in three minutes, five seconds, when Benoit Assou– Ekotto scored the simplest of openers.

Hard to please is Harry.

In five and a half minutes, his new signing Louis Saha struck a fine scoring volley.

Redknapp did little but seemed to ooze contentment.

He looked like a man who had just been served an excellent glass of Italian red, and was preparing to enjoy it.

Mocked: Tottenham fans let Padew (centre) have it

Mocked: Tottenham fans let Padew (centre) have it

/02/11/article-2099899-11AFF453000005DC-98_468x386.jpg” width=”468″ height=”386″ alt=”Saha salute: Redknapp was quick to praise his striker (above and below)” class=”blkBorder” />

Saha salute: Redknapp was quick to praise his striker (above and below)

Pat it there: Redknapp reaches out to Louis Saha

You were reminded of that cynical phrase once used by an ancient manager: 'Supporters!' he snarled. 'They're either at your feet, or your throat.'

Then, in 19 minutes, 30 seconds, something happened to bring Harry off his seat.

Saha scored the third Spurs goal, deftly worked and emphatically accepted.

Redknapp stayed on his feet for fully ten seconds, embellishing his satisfaction with a small punch of the air.

/02/11/article-2099899-11AFFAA7000005DC-282_468x381.jpg” width=”468″ height=”381″ alt=”Unfazed: Redknapp takes it all in his stride” class=”blkBorder” />

Unfazed: Redknapp takes it all in his stride

'Harry, Harry, give us a wave!' pleaded the fans. Harry obliged.

'We want you to stay', they entreated.

Harry was noncommittal.

There was one more goal, an effort from Adebayor which was so good it rated a dance, a skip and two punches.

Substitutions were made, Harry taking care to single out and congratulate his men.

Saha found great favour, being rewarded with a cuddle, a kiss on the cheek and a slap on the head.

And then it was over, and Harry was saluting each of the stands in turn before spinning on his heel and striding off down the tunnel.

'We want you to stay', they sang, over and over again.

Harry heard them, but he may not give them the answer they desire.