Tag Archives: jubilee

John Terry and Chelsea help Tickets for Troops charity celebrate milestone

Terry helps Chelsea celebrate milestone with Tickets for Troops charity

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UPDATED:

12:47 GMT, 23 November 2012

Chelsea captain John Terry joined up with Tickets for Troops to announce that the charity has distributed 300,000 free tickets in its three-year history.

The charity, which provides free tickets to members of the armed forces and those medically discharged since 2001, has also had over 115,000 servicemen and women register to make use of the service.

Just the ticket; Chelsea captain John Terry hands lifelong Blues fan Pte Tom Harding his gift

Just the ticket; Chelsea captain John Terry hands lifelong Blues fan Pte Tom Harding his gift

Charity patron: Terry chats with members of the armed forces after training at Cobham

Charity patron: Terry chats with members of the armed forces after training at Cobham

Since it was launched in 2009, the
charity has provided free tickets to service personnel for major events
including The Brit Awards, James Bond’s Skyfall premiere, the FA Cup final, England Internationals at Wembley, The Diamond Jubilee Concert
at Buckingham Palace and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Private Tom Harding of 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment and a lifelong Chelsea fan was allocated the 300,000th milestone ticket for Chelsea v Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Support: Chelsea have donated 50 tickets for every home fixture since the charity was set up in 2009

Support: Chelsea have donated 50 tickets for every home fixture since the charity was set up in 2009

As part of the celebrations Pte
Harding was invited by Chelsea to meet club captain Terry at their
Cobham training ground in Surrey. Terry presented Pte Harding with the
300,000th ticket for the weekend’s game which includes access for him
and a guest to the Executive Lounge at Stamford Bridge.

Terry, who is a Tickets For Troops
Patron said: ‘It’s an honour to have met Tom and I’m delighted to have
been able to present him with the 300,000th ticket on behalf of Tickets
for Troops. Tom and his colleagues in the forces are real heroes and I
and everyone at the club have nothing but respect for the sacrifices
they make on behalf of our country. It is wonderful that so many
organisations have supported this incredible scheme and such a
substantial number of tickets have been donated.’

Chelsea were a founder supporter of
Tickets For Troops and have donated 50 tickets for every home fixture
since the charity was set up in 2009.

Pte Harding said: ‘I can’t believe it. I’ve been a Chelsea fan all my life but often find it difficult to attend games because of the nature of my job. I never expected in a million years that I would get to meet the captain at the training ground, let alone in the same week have the opportunity and privilege to watch Chelsea take on Manchester City from the Stamford Bridge Executive Lounge.

‘I can’t thank Tickets For Troops and Chelsea enough for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Tickets For Troops does such a fantastic job in keeping spirits high amongst the all the Armed Forces and I hope they can continue to operate for many years to come.’

Visit the website: www.ticketsfortroops.org.uk

Des Kelly: Roy Hodgson mustn"t go down the tubes

Des Kelly: Don't flush train man Hodgson down the tubes after Rio gaffe

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 5 October 2012

What was Roy Hodgson thinking The man is a disgrace. In one reckless moment, he trampled over this country’s proud traditions of discretion and decency.

Doesn’t he know that nobody ever talks on the London Underground I mean what sort of freak actually chats to other passengers The trick on public transport is to stare ahead, stick in some earphones or hide behind a newspaper.

You do not speak to strangers, however friendly they may appear. You don’t answer questions. And you never make eye contact, since this is Cockney code for ‘I’m not from around here, please mug me’.

Boob tube: Roy Hodgson was left red faced after a conversation with a commuter about Rio Ferdinand went public

Boob tube: Roy Hodgson was left red faced after a conversation with a commuter about Rio Ferdinand went public

Boob tube: Roy Hodgson was left red faced after a conversation on a train about Rio Ferdinand went public

Despite this, millions of people still
travel by Tube each year, a transport experience that combines the
slowness of a bus stuck in traffic with the inescapable, airless scrum
of an overbooked budget flight.

The majority make it to their
destination, too, often without being robbed, stabbed or peed upon. But
rather than applauding the England manager for mixing it underground
like the rest of us plebs, they are pounding him like a fat guy
delaying the train because he is caught in the closing doors.

Not that Hodgson will ever abandon
the limo again after the laughable bout of faux indignation he has
faced this week following a conversation he had on the Jubilee Line
where he said Rio Ferdinand would not be in his squad.

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This resulted in an amusing back-page
scoop, before descending into an unseemly bout of misplaced rage and
apologetic hand-wringing that did nothing more than demonstrate just how
preposterous and overblown with self-importance football can be.

Asked by a gaggle of fans on their way
to the Emirates Stadium whether Ferdinand would be back in the England
fold, Hodgson politely replied he would not recall the player and
supposedly added the defender had reached ‘the end of the road’ –
although this is disputed.

When I say he spoke to ‘fans’, a
member of the assembled audience also happened to be an enterprising
former News Of The World journalist who got more than he expected for
his Travelcard and duly phoned the tale and pictures in.

People have been frothing ever since about how Hodgson broke a confidence and caused huge offence to a player.

One piece went on to argue Harry
Redknapp would never have done such a thing. That’s because Harry would
have been chatting through his open car window, as usual, and nowhere
near the Tube.

But did anyone out there actually
think Ferdinand was going to be recalled Surely they only had to pay
attention to the signs; the Underground is full of them.

Going up the escalator at Paddington
the other day I saw a poster that said ‘Kent: It’s Closer Than You
Think’. I couldn’t work out whether it was an advertisement or a threat

End of the road: Hodgson revealed that Ferdinand would not be in his latest, or subsequent, England squads

End of the road: Hodgson revealed that Ferdinand would not be in his latest, or subsequent, England squads

But I have not been confused about
Hodgson’s signals regarding Ferdinand lately. He made them perfectly
clear in the only way possible, by not picking him.

Throw in the comments of his
right-hand man (and next England boss), Gary Neville, made before the
England manager whipped out his Oyster card, and a return was never a
possibility.

Neville pointed out Ferdinand would be
35 at the next World Cup, England wanted to avoid having experienced
internationals in the stands, since it was divisive, and that Ferdinand
had not played consistently for England for the last 20 months.

He added: ‘How many games do you think
Ferdinand played for Fabio Capello in the last 18 months Three. His
last competitive game under Capello was 12 months before Hodgson took
charge. He’s not been playing for England for the last two years. Roy
Hodgson is looking towards 2014.’

And there you have it. As signals go, that’s a big red light.

So Hodgson did not betray some
incredible secret. This was not the inadvertent leak of a sea change in
England policy. He told some people on the Tube the stuff they already
knew. Big deal.

If the England boss wants to chat to someone on the Underground, then we should applaud him.

Not the first: Fabio Capello famously was left with egg on his face at the release of his 'index'

Not the first: Fabio Capello famously was left with egg on his face at the release of his 'index'

If Hodgson wants to leave a player out, that’s his prerogative too. Not everyone will agree, but he is the England manager.

There is no point in climbing to the
top of the managerial tree if you can’t drop things from up there on
occasion. He doesn’t have to apologise for that.

Whoever advised him to say sorry in this instance, or prevented him from doing so, is really at fault.

I’d rather Hodgson said what he
wanted, when he wanted. Why did everyone get sanctimonious about it
Because it’s more interesting than having to talk and write about a game
against San Marino, that’s why.

The FA got it spot on

The Football Association have set a dangerous precedent with their verdict in the case of John Terry’s rant against Anton Ferdinand. They have applied common sense.

The report into the race-row ban said: ‘At no point is his (Terry’s) demeanour and facial expression that of someone who is imploring, injured, or even quizzical in the face of an unfounded allegation.

Dammed: FA applied common sense in their judgement over John Terry, and the Ashley Cole evidence

Dammed: FA applied common sense in their judgement over John Terry, and the Ashley Cole evidence

‘On the balance of probabilities,
there is no credible basis for Mr Terry’s defence that his use of the
words ‘f****** black c***’ were directed at Ferdinand by way of forceful
rejection and/or inquiry.’

Hear hear. I said something similar
myself last October: ‘You can make your own mind up whether that sounds
like a plausible alibi, especially when you see Terry spit the words out
in anger, not bemusement.’

As for Ashley Cole, I was mystified
during the court case how he could be allowed to ‘provide a “character
reference”, without the entire courtroom dissolving into fits of
laughter’.

His character duly shone through on
Friday, when he called the FA ‘a bunch of t***s’ on Twitter. Classy, eh
He deleted it, of course. Maybe he will go back and alter that remark
later, much like his evidence.

Crying Fowl

Punditry lesson: with Tottenham a goal up against Panathinaikos at half-time, Robbie Fowler announced it was ‘too easy’ and Spurs would claim a certain victory. The Greek side equalised and the match finished in a draw.

Roll on to the next Europa League game later that evening and, with Liverpool leading Udinese by a goal at half-time, Fowler was again asked for his prediction. ‘I don’t think it’s ever easy when you’re 1-0 up,’ he said without a hint of irony.

Repatriation might be better

When stories emerged that Kevin Pietersen was in talks to return to Test cricket, I misheard the original report and thought he had to undergo ‘repatriation’.

Sadly, he was not being sent back to South Africa. It turned out England wanted him to undergo ‘reintegration’, whatever the hell that means

Back in the fold: Kevin Pietersen has been handed a new England central contract

Back in the fold: Kevin Pietersen has been handed a new England central contract

One report even claimed Pietersen
would have face-to-face talks with senior players such as Graeme Swann
and Stuart Broad to ‘try and convince them he has changed’.

Good luck with that, but unless my
eyesight is as bad as my hearing, I believe the statement referred to
‘reintegration’ — not reincarnation.

Brit swim chiefs need to stick to these shores

British Swimming is currently holding an inquest into Team GB’s poor Olympic performance, but there is plenty hiding in those murky waters.

Recently, I asked how the men at the top of British Swimming — chief executive David Sparkes and performance director Michael Scott — could possibly run the sport from their respective homes in Germany and Australia, popping in and out of Britain on lavish expense accounts.

Sink of swim: David Sparkes

Sink of swim: David Sparkes

UK Sport is now seeking details of the
pair’s travel costs — as this column asked. Quite rightly, since
25.14m of public funding brought just one silver and two bronze medals
at London 2012.

Sparkes (pictured right, receiving his
OBE in 2008) insists he should not be part of any inquiry, putting the
blame on rank-and-file staff for the disappointment. Worse still, Scott
is part of the panel investigating his own performance. But I want to
add some more important questions for UK Sport and the swimming inquest
to address:

Scott signed a four-year extension to
his contract before the Games worth more than 1.2million. Does he pay
income tax in the UK on this salary — or does all our public cash
disappear overseas
If he is not paying UK tax, in order
to qualify as a non-resident, Scott would have to be in the country
fewer than 91 days per tax year over the four-year period of his deal.
How can that be enough time to run British Swimming
During the past month, Scott has been
in Australia arranging his marriage to a nurse. This does not sound like
a performance director who is planning to spend more time in Britain,
even if he could.
And when he is here, where does Scott
stay Surely he cannot spend his whole time in five-star hotels at
Britain’s expense Perhaps the inquest can find out.

Is this how ‘elite performance’ is
run British Swimming CEO Sparkes seems to think so. However, he might
have a few issues of his own.

Aside from living in Germany, jetting
in and out to a second house in the Midlands, Sparkes has recently been
elected general secretary of the European Swimming League in Luxembourg
and will also join the bureau of the International Swimming Federation
(FINA) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Not enough: Rebecca Adlington was one of many swimmers to fall below expectation at the Olympics

Not enough: Rebecca Adlington was one of many swimmers to fall below expectation at the Olympics

I am sure this is good for his
personal profile and may give Britain some wider influence but, like
Scott, it doesn’t sound like an individual who is going to bring a
renewed focus to Britain’s swimming team.

Despite all this overseas travel, Sparkes has a Mercedes company car in the UK.

I wonder how many miles it has on the
clock, since he also uses British Swimming’s private chauffeur to ferry
him to and from airports and meetings.

Perhaps the inquest and governing
bodies could establish the cost of this and find out whether the
chauffeur is ever used for other personal trips and errands After all,
we’re paying for it. Britain’s four-time Olympic medal winner Rebecca
Adlington says the sport needs a British head coach to progress.

Most of us would be content to start
with someone who just bothered to live in this country — and paid UK tax
on their publicly funded salary, too.

As I’ve said, 25.14m worth of questions. We need 25.14m worth of answers.

Roy Hodgson apologises for Rio Ferdinand tube gaffe

Oops… Mind the gaffe, Roy! Only success in the qualifiers will make up for tube howler over Ferdinand

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UPDATED:

22:36 GMT, 4 October 2012

When it came to issuing a contrite apology in the Wembley boardroom on Thursday, Roy Hodgson can probably take some comfort from the fact that it could have been an awful lot worse.

For a start he was not facing his employers at the FA, and he was not sitting there having seen his England side lose the previous evening.

But Hodgson still looked distinctly uncomfortable, even if he deserves a bit of credit for confronting the headlines in the manner that he did before eventually inviting questions from the media.

All smiles: Roy Hodgson poses for his picture on the Tube

Up for a chat: Hodgson speaks to fans on the tube

Up for a chat: Roy Hodgson posed for pictures on
the tube on Wednesday afternoon and took time to speak to fans on the
journey north from Bond Street

Be coy, Roy: The England manager speaks to his fellow passengers on the Jubilee Line

England manager Roy Hodgson on the London Underground

Be coy, Roy: The England manager speaks to his
fellow passengers on the Jubilee Line – and also plotted his course
through the capital

England squad

Fraser Forster, Joe Hart, John Ruddy; Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Kieran Gibbs, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott, Ryan Shawcross, Kyle Walker; Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Adam Johnson, Aaron Lennon, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott; Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck.

It was quite a speech he delivered. He
was honest enough to admit he was guilty of an error of judgment. He
conceded that he had embarrassed himself and insulted Rio Ferdinand. He
said he rather hoped it would not lead to Ferdinand turning his back on
England. And he said he would be saying as much when he contacted him on
Thursday.

An engaging character, Hodgson does
like to see himself as a man of the people. It was while out taking a
stroll in Moldova last month that he informed fans of his team selection
for the game that evening. He probably regarded his encounter with
supporters on the Jubilee line on Wednesday in much the same way. He was
making conversation, posing for pictures. He just didn’t realise a
freelance reporter was in the same carriage.

Hodgson, understandably, was a bit
upset about that. ‘I’m very disappointed that my travelling on the Tube
and suggesting Rio’s career is over to a passing punter has been
recorded as it has,’ he said.

Bit safer here: Hodgon sat with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger in the stands for the Olympiacos match

Bit safer here: Hodgon sat with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger in the stands for the Olympiacos match

But in this age of camera phones, Twitter and YouTube, he really does need to be more aware of the dangers.

This was not his ‘Capello Index’
moment. That really was a PR disaster, coming so close to the World Cup.
But Hodgson’s handling of Ferdinand is a bit of a blot on the England
manager’s copybook and it is one he can only erase if he successfully
navigates his side through this month’s World Cup qualifiers against San
Marino and Poland.

If there was an area that demanded
Hodgson’s attention after a disappointing draw at home to Ukraine, it
was in the centre of a defence that struggled at Wembley that evening.
It was a difficult night for Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka, and
Lescott’s failure to command a first-team place at Manchester City adds
to the concern.

As, of course, does the quality of the
opposition facing England. Had Hodgson travelled not by Tube to the
Emirates but by train to the Etihad on Wednesday, he would have seen for
himself the danger that could be posed by Poland’s intelligent,
intuitive striker Robert Lewandowski, who was excellent for Borussia
Dortmund.

Time for a chat: Wenger and Hodgson exchange information at the Emirates

If Hodgson really does see no need for
a centre half of Ferdinand’s quality, his reasons for continuing to
ignore him remained less than convincing on Thursday. Not just because
his fourth centre half is Ryan Shawcross, but because Hodgson then
discussed Michael Carrick as an option at centre half.

‘First of all, we’ve got Michael
Carrick in the squad and he can always go back there, in a game where
you’ve got more of the ball than the opposition,’ he said.

‘We believe, myself, Ray and Gary,
that Jones and Smalling are very interesting centre halves who are not
available. Our current plight — and plight might be too strong a word —
could change by next March. But Shawcross is the captain of Stoke and
when you captain a team it shows you have certain qualities.’

Shawcross does at least start every week for his club, which is more than can be said of Lescott and Gary Cahill right now.

On his way out: Rio Ferdinand (right) is unlikely to play for England again

On his way out: Rio Ferdinand (right) is unlikely to play for England again

But there is another issue with the
omission of Ferdinand, and it concerns an apparent inconsistency when it
comes to the former England captain’s age. As Gary Neville explained on
Sky on Monday, there is no desire to include an experienced
international of 34 or 35 if he is not among the starting XI.

But when Hodgson was asked where that
might leave Frank Lampard should Jack Wilshere return to the side soon,
again he struggled.

‘I don’t know,’ said Hodgson. ‘It’s a
relevant question. But on Jack Wilshere I echo Arsene’s sentiments from
the other day. It’s great to see him back, but it’s a 14-month absence.
It’s naive to think he’ll walk back into being what he wants.

‘These are things for the future. I
don’t have a hard and fast policy. I would suggest that when a player
loses his place in the team after 100 games, he might not want to be a
squad member. At the moment, Frank is in the team and doing well at
Chelsea.’

There were some obvious positives, the return of Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll being two.

No risks: Andy Carroll is in the squad to face San Marino and Poland

No risks: Andy Carroll is in the squad to face San Marino and Poland

Aaron Lennon is also back after a
two-and-a-half-year absence, while Kieran Gibbs earns inclusion despite
the presence of Ashley Cole and Leighton Baines. Fraser Forster is also
in for the first time, although only because of Stuart Pearce’s desire
to have Jack Butland in the Under 21s for the play-off games against
Serbia.

These, however, are fringe players.
Only against Poland will Hodgson discover if he has made the right call
in the key positions.

Roy Hodgson tells tube passengers Rio Ferdinand won"t play again

Rio's England career is at end of the line… the astonishing tube announcement Hodgson delivered to fellow passengers on way to Arsenal match

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UPDATED:

07:04 GMT, 4 October 2012

Roy Hodgson is facing major embarrassment over claims he announced the end of Rio Ferdinand’s international career to passengers on a London tube train.

The England manager is due to discuss his squad at a press conference at Wembley on Thursday morning and Ferdinand, 33, is not expected to be among those selected for this month’s World Cup double header against San Marino and Poland.

But telling members of the public on a Jubilee Line train on Wednesday night – Hodgson was travelling to Arsenal for their Champions League game – that Ferdinand had reached ‘the end of the road’, as the reports claim, will be seen as shoddy treatment of a former England captain.

Embarrassing moment: Roy Hodgson (at Arsenal to watch the Champions League on Wednesday night) is reported to have told tube passengers that Rio Ferdinand's England career was over

Embarrassing moment: Roy Hodgson (at Arsenal to watch the Champions League on Wednesday night) is reported to have told tube passengers that Rio Ferdinand's England career was over

Hodgson is reported as saying, when asked whether Ferdinand would be in the squad: ‘I very much doubt it. He hasn’t played for England for quite a while. I have to say it is over for him and England.

‘It has got to be the end of the road. He is pushing 34 and hasn’t played for England for a long, long time.’

Ferdinand, capped 81 times, had not given up on an England recall, and his hopes were raised after John Terry’s decision to quit international football.

End of the road Ferdinand international career looks to be over

End of the road Ferdinand international career looks to be over

But Hodgson appeared to put an end to that with Wednesday’s indiscreet confession.

The manager, meanwhile, has assured West Ham he will take no risks with Andy Carroll when he names him in his squad on Thursday.

Hodgson has no plans to start the most expensive English footballer in history against either San Marino or Poland. He is a huge admirer of the 23-year-old but also acknowledges that he has played less than 20 minutes of football since returning from a hamstring injury.

Making his Mark: Noble could be included in Hodgson's sqaud with Carroll

Making his Mark: Noble could be included in Hodgson's sqaud with Carroll

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce had said he would speak to Hodgson to voice his concerns and it seems has been heeded. Earlier this week Allardyce said: ‘I would speak to Roy and just give him the full rundown on Andy’s lack of match fitness.

‘He’s only come back from the Euros and his holidays and played twice for Liverpool. He’s played 68 minutes for us then played 20 minutes on his return from injury. So he’s woefully short of match practice, which is a delicate thing for a manager to have to deal with.

Out of the running: Terry won't be available to Hodgson after retiring

Out of the running: Terry won't be available to Hodgson after retiring

‘I’m sure Roy would deal with that in
the right way. He’s certainly not ready for 90 minutes but it would give
him some match practice so long as it’s done sensibly.’

Hodgson could spring one or two surprises in his squad. It is understood he has been giving consideration to West Ham midfielder Mark Noble, who has been outstanding this season — so much so that England coach Gary Neville made him his man of the match for Sky on Monday night when West Ham beat QPR.

Appeal: Hodgson could turn his attentions to Spurs centre-half Dawson

Appeal: Hodgson could turn his attentions to Spurs centre-half Dawson

His choice of centre halves could also be interesting. With Terry having retired and Ferdinand apparently not an option, the search for a fourth central defender to join Joleon Lescott, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka looks like a difficult one.

With Phil Jones and Chris Smalling injured, Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross and Tottenham’s Michael Dawson are thought to be in contention.

England squad: Roy Hodgson says Rio Ferdinand won"t play international football again

Rio's at end of the line: Hodgson tells tube passengers Ferdinand's England career is over

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UPDATED:

22:58 GMT, 3 October 2012

Roy Hodgson was facing major embarrassment over claims he announced the end of Rio Ferdinand’s international career to passengers on a London tube train.

The England manager is due to discuss his squad at a press conference at Wembley on Thursday morning and Ferdinand, 33, is not expected to be among those selected for this month’s World Cup double header against San Marino and Poland.

But telling members of the public on a Jubilee Line train on Wednesday night — Hodgson was travelling to Arsenal for their Champions League game — that Ferdinand had reached ‘the end of the road’, as the reports claim, will be seen as shoddy treatment of a former England captain.

Embarrassing moment: Roy Hodgson is reported to have told tube passengers that Rio Ferdinand's England career was over

Embarrassing moment: Roy Hodgson is reported to have told tube passengers that Rio Ferdinand's England career was over

Hodgson is reported as saying, when asked whether Ferdinand would be in the squad: ‘I very much doubt it. He hasn’t played for England for quite a while. I have to say it is over for him and England.

‘It has got to be the end of the road. He is pushing 34 and hasn’t played for England for a long, long time.’

Ferdinand, capped 81 times, had not given up on an England recall, and his hopes were raised after John Terry’s decision to quit international football.

End of the road Ferdinand international career looks to be over

End of the road Ferdinand international career looks to be over

But Hodgson appeared to put an end to that with Wednesday’s indiscreet confession.

The manager, meanwhile, has assured West Ham he will take no risks with Andy Carroll when he names him in his squad on Thursday.

Hodgson has no plans to start the most expensive English footballer in history against either San Marino or Poland. He is a huge admirer of the 23-year-old but also acknowledges that he has played less than 20 minutes of football since returning from a hamstring injury.

Making his Mark: Noble could be included in Hodgson's sqaud as well as Andy Carroll

Making his Mark: Noble could be included in Hodgson's sqaud as well as Andy Carroll

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce had said he would speak to Hodgson to voice his concerns and it seems has been heeded. Earlier this week Allardyce said: ‘I would speak to Roy and just give him the full rundown on Andy’s lack of match fitness.

‘He’s only come back from the Euros and his holidays and played twice for Liverpool. He’s played 68 minutes for us then played 20 minutes on his return from injury. So he’s woefully short of match practice, which is a delicate thing for a manager to have to deal with.

Out of the running: Terry won't be available to Hodgson after retiring

Out of the running: Terry won't be available to Hodgson after retiring

‘I’m sure Roy would deal with that in
the right way. He’s certainly not ready for 90 minutes but it would give
him some match practice so long as it’s done sensibly.’

Hodgson could spring one or two surprises in his squad. It is understood he has been giving consideration to West Ham midfielder Mark Noble, who has been outstanding this season — so much so that England coach Gary Neville made him his man of the match for Sky on Monday night when West Ham beat QPR.

Appeal: Hodgson could turn his attentions to Spurs centre-half Dawson

Appeal: Hodgson could turn his attentions to Spurs centre-half Dawson

His choice of centre halves could also be interesting. With Terry having retired and Ferdinand apparently not an option, the search for a fourth central defender to join Joleon Lescott, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka looks like a difficult one.

With Phil Jones and Chris Smalling injured, Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross and Tottenham’s Michael Dawson are thought to be in contention.

Moonlight Cloud wins Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville again

Moonlight Cloud romps to glory in Prix Maurice de Gheest for second year in a row

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UPDATED:

19:31 GMT, 5 August 2012

Moonlight Cloud, second to Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, landed the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville for the second year in a row.

The four-year-old was settled at the rear of the field by Thierry Jarnet but quickly had the race in the bag in a matter of strides when she unleashed her devastating turn of foot two furlongs out to score in style for trainer Freddy Head.

The only British-trained runner was Eve Johnson Houghton's The Cheka who finished third having set the early pace.

Fine summer: Moonlight Cloud was second to Black Caviar at Ascot in June

Fine summer: Moonlight Cloud was second to Black Caviar at Ascot in June

Head said: 'She adores the track here at Deauville which is very flat. I think Ascot, which climbs at the finish, isn't so much to her advantage. She doesn't quite have the same burst of acceleration uphill. But today she's done an amazing thing here because she's won within herself.'

LONDON OLYMPICS 2012: Street party will laud GB winners – Charles Sale

Street party will laud GB winners after summer of success

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UPDATED:

23:09 GMT, 2 August 2012

The Team GB gold rush will come as a particular relief to those who have been planning a victory parade for the home athletes since well before the Games.

The British Olympic Association have long fixed the date of Monday, September 10 — after the Paralympics — for a London celebration that will include all the GB Olympic and Paralympic competitors.

But there has been a reluctance within the BOA to mention the victory march until their medal results started to merit such an occasion.

Magic: Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott added to Britain's gold medal tally on Thursday

Magic: Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott added to Britain's gold medal tally on Thursday

That has now happened with the momentous triumphs in cycling, rowing, shooting and canoe slalom over the last two days.

The proposed open-top bus route will go from the Guildhall in the City of London through Westminster and up The Mall before the medallists are presented on stage in front of Buckingham Palace, where the Diamond Jubilee Concert took place. The reception is likely to be held there, too.

The huge drive-past of around 1,500 athletes and officials will also include the coaches, who BOA chairman Lord Moynihan believes should receive more recognition.

Judging by the astonishing crowds that have taken to the streets for the cycling road races and the feelgood factor around Team GB success, there could be as many as two million people lining the London route to salute the team’s achievements.

Golden welcome: Britain's winners in Trafalgar square after the 2008 Beijing Games

Golden welcome: Britain's winners in Trafalgar square after the 2008 Beijing Games

Merritt receives treatment at home headquarters

Volunteer Freddie Woodward, 17-year-old son of Sir Clive, thought he had been asked by USA track and field officials if it was OK for them to ‘tweet’ in the reception lobby of Team GB house at Westfield.

Freddie allowed them in and went to fetch some water. He returned to find the Americans had set up a portable physio table and, with kit spread everywhere, were treating defending Olympic 400 metres champion LaShawn Merritt. Apparently, they had asked: ‘Can we treat here’

The BOA’s hospitality towards Merritt is all the more ironic considering their battle to stop drugs offenders like him competing in the Games.

Samsung try to get their message across

Samsung are the latest electronics firm to attempt to ambush market the Olympics by handing out Union flags of differing sizes with the Korean company name on them at train and bus stations near Games venues including Eton Dorney.

Meanwhile, England Test cricket debutant James Taylor has had to strip the BT Vision stickers off his bat at Headingley after objections from Sky Sports, who are the TV rights holders.

Sky careful after Wiggins outburst

Sky Sports News had to carefully edit their tape of national hero Bradley Wiggins’s last press conference of his gold medal day because of the four-letter content.

Outburst: Bradley Wiggins didn't mince his words after his Olympic triumph

Outburst: Bradley Wiggins didn't mince his words after his Olympic triumph

Wiggins, who had started on the vodka and tonics after a fish-and-chip supper at Team GB house, was graphically describing his emotions when told he had a 27-second lead in the time trial.

‘It was s*** your pants stuff, I’m f****** going to win this,’ he said, before answering other questions in a similar vein. BOA chairman Lord Moynihan, who is likely to recommend Wiggins for a knighthood, did not seem to mind, saying on Thursday: ‘The way he performed in the press interviews was great.’ Moynihan also singled out the work done by Robin Williams, who coaches gold medal rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning. So expect him to be nominated for a gong as well.

Froome zooms on…

WHIILE Bradley Wiggins has been celebrating becoming GB’s most decorated Olympian by getting ‘blind drunk’ before hoping to somehow blend in with the crowd cheering on his GB colleagues at the Velodrome, it will be cycling business as usual for fellow Brit Chris Froome.

The time trial bronze medallist and Tour de France runner-up to Wiggins travelled to France yesterday before beginning training today for the three-week Tour of Spain.

And Froome will expect Team Sky — if he stays with them — to consider prioritising him rather than Wiggins as their lead Tour de France rider if next year’s course favours him with more mountain stages and fewer time trials, at which Wiggins excels.

Classic setback for Queen"s Estimate

Classic setback for Queen's filly after third-place finish in Lillie Langtry Stakes

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UPDATED:

23:04 GMT, 2 August 2012

The chances of having a royal runner in the final Classic of the season appear to be over after the Queen’s Estimate could only finish third in the Lillie Langtry Stakes.

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly had been quoted at 16-1 for next month’s St Leger by sponsors Ladbrokes after giving her owner a Diamond Jubilee Royal Ascot winner in the two-mile Queen’s Vase.

The Queen won the Silver Jubilee St Leger in 1977 with Dunfermline, but Estimate’s hopes look forlorn after her two-and-three-quarter length defeat by Wild Coco, who provided Sir Henry Cecil and Tom Queally with their fourth winner of the week.

Royal assent: The Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly had been quoted at 16-1

Royal assent: The Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly had been quoted at 16-1

Stoute said: 'She has run well and staying is her game. I’ll have to talk to connections but I’d think the St Leger is unlikely.’

Wild Coco could step up to the Group One Yorkshire Oaks later this month and thus accompany stablemate Frankel in Cecil’s team for the Ebor meeting.

Cecil, whose chemotherapy treatment has prevented him from attending this meeting, reported Frankel in good shape after his Sussex Stakes win on Wednesday.

But the trainer was lukewarm on suggestions that a tilt at the Prix du Moulin could be inserted in the colt’s programme between runs in the Juddmonte International at York and the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October.

Cecil said: ‘Whether he contests the Prix du Moulin is questionable.’
Cecil, who runs Midsummer Sun and Stipulate today plus Timepiece in the Group One Nassau Stakes, is battling Mark Johnston for the title of top trainer at the meeting after Johnston, who has claimed that crown seven times, landed his fourth race of the week with Heavy Metal in the Richmond Stakes.

Meanwhile, Irish trainer John Oxx chose the 200th Goodwood Cup to register his first Glorious Goodwood winner courtesy of the 2-1 favourite Saddler’s Rock.

The Johnny Murtagh-ridden winner, who held off fast-finishing Askar Tau by a length, had blown his chance by pulling too hard when third in the Ascot Gold Cup won by Thursday’s third Colour Vision.

Oxx said: ‘Not just one thing went wrong at Ascot, three or four things went wrong. If it had been one thing we might still have won.’

Saddler’s Rock is also York-bound with the Lonsdale Stakes his target.

Black Caviar may be retired

Caviar may be off the menu after Aussie superstar suffers injury during Ascot triumph

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 24 June 2012

A valedictory farewell tour back home looks on the agenda for Black Caviar after she scrambled home in Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The understandable immediate disappointment at her head verdict over Moonlight Cloud, as well as relief that jockey Luke Nolen’s final furlong misjudgement did not have calamitous ramifications, prompted hints of retirement.

A run in Newmarket’s July Cup has never been a serious possibility.

Made it: Black Caviar (right) narrowly won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes

Made it: Black Caviar (right) narrowly won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes

THREE MOMENTS TO SAVOUR

Star of the show: Frankel by a mile or, to be exact, 11 lengths in the Queen Anne Stakes — his best run yet on Flat racing’s biggest stage.

Ride of the week: Kieren Fallon, who manoeuvred Most Improved into the ideal position from a poor draw in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Jockey of the week: William Buick underlined his place at racing’s top table with five wins, including Newfangled and Fallen For You.

But, as she heads in quarantine, a likely shot the Patinack Stakes at the Melbourne Cup spring carnival in front of her adoring Australian fans, possibly preceded by a prep run in the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valle looks the way trainer Peter Moody will steer the mare whose unbeaten sequence now stretches to 22 races.

Ratings experts Timeform have provisionally projected Black Caviar performed by 13lb below her best on Saturday.

The BHA’s head of handicapping Phil Smith more conservatively estimated the run at between 10lb to 12lb under her capabilities.

But after a 10,000 mile global trip from the southern hemisphere, Black Caviar deserves to be cut a little leeway and not be too harshly judged despite not completely living up to the pre-race publicity.

Having travelled from the Aussie winter, her coat lacked the gleam of her rivals and Smith also argued that the result also reflected national racing styles.

He said: ‘Australian racing is all about early pace. Once you’ve burnt your rivals off, they don’t come back at you. European racing is different. It is all about finishing and that is especially the case with the French, who supplied the second and third Moonlight Cloud and Resurgent.’

That mind set possibly explains why
Nolen eased off in the last half furlong. Maybe he could not believe
another rival get close as well as wishing to nurse home a mount se is
now sentimentally attached to.

But the clock make interesting
reading. Black Caviar completed the last furlong in 13.7secs – the third
slowest time in the field. But he split between the two and one furlong
pole of 10.84sec, easily the quickest in the race.

Lucky boy: Black Caviar extended her winning run to 22 races at Ascot

Lucky boy: Black Caviar extended her winning run to 22 races at Ascot

Intriguingly, on similar going, Frankel’s quickest furlong in Tuesday’s Queen Anne Stakes was 10.58secs between the three and two furlong pole.

Evidence Sir Henry Cecil’s wonder colt is better Not conclusively but an intriguing comparison.

This was racing – not a time trial even if Frankel makes it look that way. Hot favourites will get turned over at next month’s Olympics not because they lack raw talent but because on the day they could not produce their best for a variety of reasons.

Moody said: ‘I had concerns half a mile out, only her grit and ability got her home. You have probably seen the filly race at her lowest ebb for 10 or 12 starts – but fortunately she was able to get the job done. Post-race she is out on her feet.

‘I am slightly disappointed for your public that they haven’t seen how great this filly is. There will be some doubting Thomases but you don’t win 22 from 22 being a mug.

‘I saw the greatest performance I witnessed on a racecourse on Tuesday with Frankel. Had I brought this mare here last year, I probably would have said the same thing.’

Maybe, the Black Caviar has peaked as her career enters its last lap but she was put out of her comfort zone and got the job done. Many great champions from sport can’t claim that She also helped enliven one of the best ever royal meetings. Frankel, So You Think, Gold Cup winner Frankie Dettori and The Queen’s Estimate they all ignited crowds that were disappointingly down overall.

Royal occasion: The Queen congratulates the owners of Black Caviar

Royal occasion: The Queen congratulates the owners of Black Caviar

But Black Caviar’s presence, with her army of pink and back, green and gold occasionally raucous flag waving fans, brought an added dimension to the five-days.

The nearest thing I have witnessed was Zenyatta’s agonising defeat to Blame in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic when jockey Mike Smith broke down in tears after giving American racing’s darling too much to do and she lost her unblemished record on her 20th and final start.

Nolen’s great escape meant he did not have to shed tears. ‘It’s not the bloody story,’ he implored under a barrage of questions about his near disastrous mistake.

It was 10 minutes after the race but in 10 months and 10 years, the story that will be that Black Caviar put her record and neck on the line and succeeded.

As the crowd waited for her return to the winner’s enclosure, a small lady dressed in green stood patiently waiting. Her gloved hand eventually patted the mare’s nose.

It was as if the Queen of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth had been granted an audience with the Queen of the racecourse. Her majesty, so atuned to racing, appreciated more than most that it was mission accomplished.

Meanwhile, Faarh, the Goldolphin-owned colt who stepped up from handicap company to finish third to So You Think in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, appears to be heading for a re-match in the Coral Eclipse.

TrainerAlan McCabe says his German 2,000 Guineas winner Caspar Netscher could be aimed at clash with Frankel in Goodwood’s Sussex Stakes if all goes well in next weekend’s Prix Jean Prat.

Wimbledon 2012: Laura Robson wants to continue Britain"s feel good summer

EXCLUSIVE: Robson aiming to make her own Jubilee tribute and continue Britain's feel good summer

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UPDATED:

14:41 GMT, 24 June 2012

Laura Robson has a bone to pick with Stevie Wonder. And it concerns the Queen.

‘I couldn’t understand why Stevie Wonder was singing Happy Birthday,’ she says through a smirk. ‘It wasn’t her birthday. He didn’t even call her “Your Majesty”, he said “Your Honour”.’

Robson is, of course, talking about the Jubilee Weekend concert, a jaw-dropping starter to what could be a very feel good summer for Britain.

Ready to go: Laura Robson will break into the top 100 ahead of Wimbledon

Ready to go: Laura Robson will break into the top 100 ahead of Wimbledon

Now it’s, Wimbledon, which starts on Monday, and the Olympics three weeks later, both of which Robson is hoping to do well in. After missing the Jubilee, at least she gets to be part of the action this time.

‘I love the Queen but I was in Nottingham so I missed out, which was a shame because they had a street party in my road. I couldn’t join in on that so I watched it on TV with Naomi Broady (the British No 6) and we were both getting really emotional.

‘I didn’t really watch the river thing. I watched the highlights — if you can really call them that — but the concert was better. It was really lovely when Prince Charles made his speech. Didn’t you find it a little bit emotional’

Happy Birthday Robson was unsure why Stevie Wonder sang Happy Birthday at the Jubilee

Happy Birthday Robson was unsure why Stevie Wonder sang Happy Birthday at the Jubilee

Special speech: Robson was a fan of the concert and Prince Charles' address to The Queen

Special speech: Robson was a fan of the concert and Prince Charles' address to The Queen

The answer to that will remain a secret but Robson’s progress since she won her first match at Wimbledon a year ago is there for all to see.

Since beating now world No 8 Angelique Kerber and running Maria Sharapova close, Robson has started to fulfil the potential which saw her win Junior Wimbledon four years ago.

On Monday she will break into the world’s top 100 for the first time and become British No 2. At 18, she is the highest-ranked teenager in the world and she is only two weeks older than Andy Murray was when he first broke into the world’s top 100.

After the usual teenage pains of growth spurts and the accompanying injuries, she is fully fit. She looks it too and has clearly improved her fitness and movement, something that has been highlighted as a weakness in the past.

Feel good summer: Robson wants to extend the positive mood in the country

Feel good summer: Robson wants to extend the positive mood in the country

‘There hasn’t been a massive change,’ she says, immediately more serious when discussing her job. ‘It’s been a gradual improvement. I’ve worked a lot on my fitness and being more explosive on court and it has paid off. It can obviously still get better but it’s a work in progress.’

To watch her play, Robson doesn’t look far off some players ranked a lot higher than her. Her serve is big and her groundstrokes powerful. But, like many younger players, it is the mental side of the game she will take longest to master.

Time to shine: Robson claims she does not get recognised when she is out and about outside of tennis

Time to shine: Robson claims she does not get recognised when she is out and about outside of tennis

Whereas 10-15 years ago the vogue was for younger women to prosper — Martina Hingis, the Williams sisters, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova all won Grand Slam titles before they were 21 — it is now the relatively older players who are more often than not succeeding. Just two of the last 16 Grand Slam champions have been under the age of 27.

Robson, who plays Italy’s Francesca Schiavone in the first round at Wimbledon, has time, she is continue improving and, like fellow Brit Heather Watson, is making efforts not to show her emotions too much on court when things aren’t going to plan.

‘Like anyone, I get frustrated when I miss a shot I feel I should have made,’ she adds. ‘I’m just not as good at holding in at what I want to say. I really enjoyed myself at Eastbourne, though, and loved it being so competitive. I like trying to work out what I can do on each point to put the other girl under more pressure.

New kids on the block: Robson and fellow Brit Heather Watson are the new hopes for British tennis

New kids on the block: Robson and fellow Brit Heather Watson are the new hopes for British tennis

‘The top 20 or 30 girls are really experienced at closing out matches and playing important points — they know where they want to serve, for example. But when I go out to serve at deuce I’m thinking “I could serve here, I could serve there”. The more experienced you get, the more you know how you want to play tactically.’

Robson’s win over Kerber at Wimbledon last year was her first at the Championships but what has happened to the German since is enough to provide Robson with plenty of inspiration. Kerber is now the world No 8 after a stunning year and among the favourites to win at SW19, something that has not gone unnoticed.

‘Kerber more or less came out of nowhere to make the US Open semis and has really backed that up,’ says Robson. ‘She’s done so well. It gives me a lot of confidence. But I’ve still got a lot of things I can improve on and I don’t want to stop at the top 100. I want to be top 50, top 20. I feel really lucky to be in the draw again.’

The future is bright: Robson is hoping to climb the rankings

The future is bright: Robson is hoping to climb the rankings

With the wildcard that put her in the draw of course comes Wimbledon prizemoney: a minimum of 14,500, some of which can surely be allowed to go on her favourite activity.

‘Shopping. There was a Harvey Nichols 50-per-cent-off sale in Birmingham last week. I went in there and literally the whole shoe section was only tennis players. Elena Vesnina (Russia’s world No 83) was trying on four pairs I think. We all love our shopping. Also, people generally don’t recognise me when I’m not sweaty — that’s why I dress up.’

A good Wimbledon and you feel even that disguise won’t work for much longer

Laura Robson is a global ambassador for Wilson Racquet Sports, for more information visit www.wilson.com

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