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Kilmarnock 1 Hibernian 1 – match report

Kilmarnock 1 Hibernian 1: Heffernan and Doyle strike as spoils shared at rain-soaked Rugby Park

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UPDATED:

17:10 GMT, 23 December 2012

Kilmarnock and Hibernian served up some decent festive fare before sharing the spoils in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at a sodden Rugby Park.

In an entertaining first-half played in almost constant rain, striker Paul Heffernan gave the Ayrshire side the lead in the sixth minute before Hibees hit-man Eoin Doyle levelled in 26 minutes with his third goal in two games.

While Killie defender Robbie Fowler made a goalline clearance from Paul Cairney just after the break, excitement levels dipped and thereafter neither side did enough to claim all three points.

However, both sets of players deserve
credit for playing in some miserable conditions, as did the 4,023 fans
who braved the conditions.

Out in front: Heffernan celebrates opening the scoring

Out in front: Heffernan celebrates opening the scoring

Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels made one enforced change to his side with James Dayton coming into midfield to replace the suspended Liam Kelly.

The visitors, without skipper James McPake through suspension, showed two changes to their starting line-up with Lewis Stevenson coming in at left-back and midfielder Gary Deegan replacing Jorge Claros, who started on the bench.

Pat Fenlon's men, captained by Paul Hanlon and playing in all-yellow, found themselves behind early in the game after defender Alan Maybury had fouled Dayton 25 yards from goal when it looked as if he was favourite to clear Heffernan's poor cross.

Ben Williams made a fine save from Borja Perez's powerful free-kick but the Leith side failed to clear their lines and when Killie defender Michael Nelson put Heffernan in the Irishman skilfully lobbed the Hibs keeper from inside the box.

Stunned Hibs battled back but it was Killie who had the next chance in the 14th minute when Dayton's fine cross from the left found Heffernan but his header from eight yards slipped past the far post.

Moments later, Hibs striker Leigh
Griffiths fired a free-kick from 30 yards over Cammy Bell's crossbar,
before his low drive from similar distance sped past the post with the
Rugby Park keeper scrambling to cover.

Equal terms: Doyle celebrates (below) after bringing the two sides level

Equal terms: Doyle celebrates (below) after bringing the two sides level

Equal terms: Doyle celebrates (below) after bringing the two sides level

However, the visitors got themselves back on level terms after Heffernan lost possession in the centre circle with the ball breaking to Cairney.
The Hibs midfielder sent Griffiths racing down the right and his driven cross arrived at Doyle who did well to turn it at the far post.

Moments later, Heffernan had a drive deflected past for a corner from which the home side failed to capitalise before Doyle had a decent effort from 25 yards saved by Bell.

It was developing into an open game and in the 32nd minute Heffernan cleverly set up Jeroen Tesselaar inside a packed Hibs penalty area but the left-back's left-footed drive from 14 yards missed the target.

Four minutes from the break Killie escaped following a David Wotherspoon corner when Bell punched the ball in an attempted clearance and breathed a sigh of relief as it cannoned off Hanlon and back over the bar.

Ho, ho, ho! A first-aider gets into the Christmas spirit

Ho, ho, ho! A first-aider gets into the Christmas spirit

The Easter Road men should have taken
the lead just over a minute into the second-half when Doyle set up
Cairney in the box but his chip over Bell – when it looked like he would
have been better off blasting it – was headed off the line by Fowler.

There was little between the two
sides but Bell found himself called into action again when he had to
push a long-distance drive from Griffiths round the post for a corner
which, once more, came to nothing.

It looked as if something special
would be needed to find the winner and Kilmarnock defender Mohamadou
Sissoko almost provided it when he ventured up the park to have a go
from 35 yards but watched as the ball fizzed just past Williams' left-hand post.

Moments later, as the game continued
to flow from end-to-end, Cairney picked up a booking from referee Bobby
Madden for simulation after going to ground inside the box when taking
on Nelson.

In the 76th minute Chris Johnston
came on for Heffernan and Ivan Sproule replaced Wotherspoon as both
bosses looked for some inspiration.

However, while play was stretching by
the minute as the match entered its final stages, there was no clues as
to which side were most likely to find the winner.

In the 85th minute Williams spilled
Dayton's 25-yard free-kick before the Hibs defence eventually cleared to
safety but in the end both sides looked as if they had run out of steam
and thus, a draw was probably a fair result.

Charl Schwartzel wins Alfred Dunhill Championship 2012 by 12 strokes

Schwartzel wraps up 2012 with emphatic 12-stroke win at Dunhill Championship

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UPDATED:

17:33 GMT, 16 December 2012

South African Charl Schwartzel completed his fantastic finish to 2012 with an astonishing 12-stroke victory on home soil at the Alfred Dunhill Championship today.

The third biggest winning margin in European Tour history was achieved at Leopard Creek a week after last year's US Masters champion won in Thailand by 11 shots.

Only Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, who won the 2000 US Open and 2005 Asian Open by 15 and 13 respectively, have left the best of the rest trailing so far behind in the circuit's 40-year history.

Emphatic: Charl Schwartzel lifted the Alfred Dunhill Championship after surging to a 12-stroke lead

Emphatic: Charl Schwartzel lifted the Alfred Dunhill Championship after surging to a 12-stroke lead

Schwartzel, 10 clear with a round to play, added a three-under-par 69 either side of a two-hour thunderstorm delay to take his eighth Tour title – five of them in South Africa – with a 24-under-par total.

In the Thailand Championship he was 25 under, and for the past five weeks – they started with finishes of fifth, third and second – he is a staggering 84 under.

France's Gregory Bourdy, his closest challenger for virtually the entire weekend, took a double-bogey seven on the final hole and that elevated Swede Kristoffer Broberg, four times a winner on the Challenge Tour last season, into second place.

Bourdy shared third with Scotland's Scott Jamieson, who last Sunday captured the Nelson Mandela Championship in Durban, defending champion Garth Mulroy and England's Andy Sullivan a month after he came through the Tour qualifying school.

Schwartzel also continued a remarkable record at the course on the border of the Kruger National Park. He won his first Tour title there in 2004 and has had four runner-up finishes.

'It's always been a special place for me,' the 28-year-old said. 'This is where I can almost say my career started and it's always stayed close to my heart.

'It's nice to have continued my form from last week. I was saying a month and a half ago it's been a pretty disappointing year.

Class act: Schwartzel ended the year on a high

Class act: Schwartzel ended the year on a high

'Slowly and surely I started to swing the club a lot better, back to how I did when I won The Masters, and I actually got excited to play again.

'It started at the SA Open and from there got better and better. It's been a pretty good year now!'

Schwartzel's lead was down to seven when he three-putted the eighth, but he spun his approach to three feet on the next and after the weather hold-up he collected more birdies on the 12th, 13th and par-five last.

Fellow countryman George Coetzee's best-of-the-day 65 lifted him into joint 10th place and came after results elsewhere had guaranteed he stayed in the world's top 50 and earned himself a Masters debut next April.

Also qualifying by the same route for a first trip to Augusta are Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Belgian Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts, South African Branden Grace and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen.

Geoff Ogilvy would have denied Olesen if he had had one less shot at the Australian PGA Championship, where he finished in a tie for fourth place.

Way off: Gregory Bourdy was the South African's closest competitor for almost the entire weekend

Way off: Gregory Bourdy was the South African's closest competitor for almost the entire weekend

Others to book their Masters places through the end-of-year top 50 are Scot Paul Lawrie, Italians Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero, Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, American Bill Haas, Australian Jason Day and Japanese player Hiroyuki Fujita.

Coetzee told the Sunshine Tour website: “My dream has never been just to play in The Masters.

That's not the job description – I want to play in those majors and I want to win all of them.

'It's great to have the opportunity. Last week I could feel that The Masters was making me play a bit rubbish because it puts a bit of pressure on you.

'After three days of scrapping around this week I got things together. It's Augusta – it's the one major with a limited field, it's the best in the world.

'I watched it as a kid and I was mad at Phil Mickelson for beating Ernie (Els) that year (2004) when he holed that putt and jumped around like a madman.

'It's got so much history and I'm sure it's going to be an unbelievable experience. As they say in poker – if you have a chip and a chair you never know.'

Getting an eye in: John Parry

Getting an eye in: Scott Jamieson

Brits on tour: Scott Jamieson (right) and John Parry (left)

Scott Jamieson wins Nelson Mandela Championship

Jamieson takes Nelson Mandela Championship with super second day show

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UPDATED:

17:09 GMT, 9 December 2012

Scotland's Scott Jamieson won the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship, which is the opening event of the new European Tour season, in South Africa tonight.

In a tournament cut to 36 holes and on a Royal Durban course reduced to a par-65 because of saturated fairways, Jamieson shot a second-round 57 and then beat England's Steve Webster and Spaniard Edoardo de la Riva in a play-off.

De la Riva bogeyed the first extra hole and then, in fast-fading light, Webster, the only one of the trio to have won on the circuit before, did the same when they returned to the 18th tee.

Champ: Scott Jamieson of Scotland poses with the trophy after winning the Nelson Mandela Championship

Champ: Scott Jamieson of Scotland poses with the trophy after winning the Nelson Mandela Championship

Beaten: Steve Webster lost in the play-off to the Scot

Beaten: Steve Webster lost in the play-off to the Scot

Jamieson, whose previous best finish was third, will not go into the Tour record books for his 57, however. Because of the course conditions it will not officially count, but that will not matter to the 29-year-old ranked 167th in the world.

He was not even in the top 60 after his opening round of 66 and admitted afterwards: 'Starting the day I probably didn't think I would be standing here holding the trophy.'

Let's go: Jamieson plays his second shot onto the 18th green on the first extra play-off hole

Let's go: Jamieson plays his second shot onto the 18th green on the first extra play-off hole

All three players involved in the play-off finished their rounds by lunchtime and had to wait all afternoon to see if anybody could beat their seven-under totals of 123.

South Africa's Tim Clark had the best chance, but double-bogeyed the 17th when joint leader.

De la Riva, who less than a fortnight ago came through the Tour qualifying school in joint ninth place, was left to rue not only failing to get up and down from a bunker in the play-off, but also a closing bogey in his second-round 61.

That's better: Playing conditions were fine after the two-day washout

That's better: Playing conditions were fine after the two-day washout

Webster, who had the second of his
two victories in Portugal five years ago, produced a 60 and almost
clinched victory on the first extra hole when his 30-foot birdie putt
came up just short.

Next time round, though, he could not recover from pulling his drive into thick rough.

Earlier, Jamieson could have won it
outright on the 305-yard ninth – his last – when he drove the green, but
just missed a 12-foot eagle attempt.

He had earlier gone to the turn in a five-under 26 that included four birdie twos.

Lazy day: Pelicans sitting around on the course

Lazy day: Pelicans sitting around on the course

'I knew I needed a fast start and was
lucky enough to get that,' Jamieson added after also being presented
with a framed drawing of Mandela.

'It's an honour to win a tournament
like this. Getting your name on any European trophy is a fantastic
achievement, but it's a bit more special with someone like Nelson.'

Joint fourth a stroke behind were Clark, German Max Kieffer, Dane Morten Orum Madsen and England's Matthew Nixon.

Chris Foy: England must fight fire with fire against South Africa

Let's get physical! Beefed-up England must fight fire with fire against South Africa

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UPDATED:

22:20 GMT, 23 November 2012

The darkest hour is before the dawn. That is the message of hope England will seize upon in the final moments before kick-off at Twickenham on Saturday, as they try to emerge from the wreckage of their lowest ebb this year to stun the Springboks.

All week, the home team have brooded on their 20-14 loss against Australia and sought to channel their angst into a clear-headed backlash in today's QBE International.

The inspiration has come from events in South Africa five months ago, in Port Elizabeth to be precise.

Swamped: England were overpowered by a weakened and vulnerable Australia team last week

Swamped: England were overpowered by a weakened and vulnerable Australia team last week

What has emerged is a sense that, in the countdown to the end-of-season game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, they forged a collective will to end the suffering.

Having lost in Durban and Johannesburg, the tourists summoned up the spirit to finish that series on a more upbeat note, with a defiant draw which could have wound up as a win.

What the performance that day proved to Stuart Lancaster was that his young England team possess real character, and they will need that in spades today.

The wish of the management is to replicate the spirit of Port Elizabeth prior to kick-off; the same determination to push themselves to the limit to avert another setback, another inquest.

Casting his mind back to June 23, Lancaster said: 'There was a frustration that we hadn't delivered in the second Test. There was a feeling we had let ourselves down.

'That frustration had built during the week and this week again you've got the frustration of desperately wanting to win against Australia and not quite achieving it. That is a powerful motivator.'

Asked if he can sense the same mood, the same intense focus, he added: 'I do, definitely.'

When they summoned up their tour defiance, England were being led by Dylan Hartley, in the enforced absence of Chris Robshaw.

Now it is incumbent on the regular captain to set the same bloody-minded tone this time.

Outlining exactly what the coaches expect, Graham Rowntree said: 'I want to see the same as we saw in Port Elizabeth, that pure desire for it not to be a defeat again.

Tactic: South Africa will look to dominate England in the pack

Tactic: South Africa will look to dominate England in the pack

'That last hour before kick-off in Port Elizabeth was the last hour before the last game of that series.

'We were out to put a few things right. That is where we are now. We had lost two games on that tour.

'That last hour before the game we decided that wasn't going to happen again and we have to recreate that atmosphere.'

This week, everyone in the home camp has made the observation that the Springboks are not subtle in the way they play, nor expansive or visionary or varied.

England know that their opponents will come to Twickenham with the objective of smashing the doors down and the formidable power to do just that.

The hosts know what is heading their way, but handling it is another matter entirely.

Put aside the All Blacks – operating in a parallel universe of unrivalled class – and this fixture has troubled England the most in recent times.

Prior to that draw in Port Elizabeth, they had lost nine consecutive Tests against South Africa, having previously beaten them seven times in a row.

Lowest ebb: Stuart Lancaster (left) must navigate his way past South Africa before a tough Test against New Zealand

Lowest ebb: Stuart Lancaster (left) must navigate his way past South Africa before a tough Test against New Zealand

Pivotal: Manu Tuilagi will have to be at his best

Pivotal: Manu Tuilagi will have to be at his best

The last of those wins came all the way back in November 2006, so this latest clash between the countries serves as a chance for prolonged English suffering to be curtailed at long last.

For Lancaster's regime, events before this year carry no real relevance, but they are operating within their own difficult context.

There are immediate pressures which have nothing to do with a long-standing cycle of disappointment in tussles with the Boks.

This autumn campaign is on a knife-edge. Before it began, the country's rugby public would have taken three wins from four, or two triumphs as a minimum requirement.

With the All Blacks in town next weekend, there is a danger that these modest expectations won't be met.

Defeat against weakened, vulnerable Australia has burst the feelgood bubble.

Twickenham was full of hope a week ago, now it is likely to be awash with foreboding.

The home support will have noted the way South Africa have brushed aside Ireland and Scotland with relative ease and dread another November surrender to southern raiders, in keeping with dismal tradition.

Favoured: The Twickenham faithful may be expecting a second defeat as South Africa visit

Favoured: The Twickenham faithful may be expecting a second defeat as South Africa visit

Much of the concern is founded on a defeat seven days ago which Lancaster insists was not 'as black and white' as has been suggested.

The ideal way to reinforce his argument is for his team to beat the Boks. To do so they will have to resurrect the intensity levels produced in Port Elizabeth and for large parts of the Test in Johannesburg.

With Tom Wood recalled to the back row, England must be much more efficient at the breakdown, to deliver the holy grail of quick ball.

If they can achieve that target, the Leicester half-back axis of Ben Youngs and Toby Flood will have a fighting chance of generating momentum and openings.

Yet, quick ball from rucks is but one of many requirements – England need a more solid scrum and another precise line-out masterclass overseen by Geoff Parling.

Easy does it: Zane Kirchner and Co will be expecting a backlash from England

Easy does it: Zane Kirchner and Co will be expecting a backlash from England

They must stand up to the giant Springbok forwards such as flanker Willem Alberts, who pounded them to dust for a time at Ellis Park, and the young lock enforcer, Eben Etzebeth.

Lancaster's men will also be alert to the threat of Patrick Lambie's kicking repertoire.

There is an awful lot for the home side to withstand, so much so that perhaps not even the spirit of Port Elizabeth will be quite enough to save England.

For this regime, the honeymoon period ended last weekend, but defeat on Saturday would mean the darkest hour is still to come.

Another loss and – to use the American word for this time of year – it really would be the 'fall'.

Real Madrid"s secret weapon designed by an Englishman

Real Madrid's secret weapon that Mourinho hopes will bring down Manchester City… and it is designed by and Englishman

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UPDATED:

01:45 GMT, 21 November 2012

Aqua man: A mock up of Cristiano Ronaldo wearing the suit

Aqua man: A mock up of Cristiano Ronaldo wearing the suit

Jose Mourinho calls it Real Madrid’s secret weapon, the Spanish press label it the club’s ‘fourth kit’

It will not be visible to the Manchester City players at the Etihad on Wednesday but Cristiano Ronaldo and co can attest to its effectiveness. What’s more, it’s been designed by an Englishman.

Terry Nelson, a youth player at Liverpool when the club were conquering Europe in the late 70s, has created a buoyancy suit which allows players to train in the water even when injuries have stopped them running on land.

The TNAR Mk X6 – to give its full title – is a body suit made from nylon, lycra and strategically-placed foam padding, which lifts the wearer into the necessary position for exercise in the swimming pool.

Users float, meaning there is no impact on the ground and pressure is relieved from aches and pains that might otherwise curtail a session on an unforgiving pitch.

‘I designed it for training in the water so your feet don’t touch the floor,’ Nelson, 50 told Sportsmail. ‘The suit keeps you upright in the correct biomechanical running position. Anyone who’s got an injury can now run and train and sprint and do all the things they can’t do on land.’

Nelson came up with the idea two years ago after growing tired of floatation bands he used when training with a broken metatarsal. He made contact with Real Madrid through the British Embassy in Spain 18 months ago and the club’s medical staff subsequently helped develop it.

Mourinho gave the thumbs up for players to use the suits in May and they have been worn since the start of the season.

‘I worked with the medical staff and the physios rather than the manager but the manager’s got to like the suits. Ronaldo and Kaka and all the players were there for my talks. You see them using the suits and you have a little chat.

‘Football players can be very particular. They want to play, they don’t really want to go in the pool. But the feedback we get from the manager is that they like wearing the suits, it gives them a feel good factor.’

He added: ‘It brings the players back quicker from injury. They don’t have to rest, they can run very early in their recovery. If you think of Ronaldo, for example, he’s on 300,000 a week. If he comes back two weeks earlier then that’s a lot of money saved by the club.

How it works: The suit helps players train in the water

How it works: The suit helps players train in the water

How it works: The suit helps players train in the water

‘The suit is nylon on lycra with foam pads inside. We call it an exosuit. It’s an extension of muscles groups in your body. It’s like a six pack at the front. On the back, the pads are placed to represent muscle groups in your back, giving support. It’s bigger surface are rather than weight, so that makes it harder to run in the pool but it doesn’t injure you.

‘When Wayne Rooney broke his metatarsal, he wouldn’t have been able to put anything on that foot. Now Wayne could take that cast off his leg, get off his crutches and run. That’s what Real Madrid do.’

Diego Maradona was given a training session by Nelson in Dubai before he lost his job and the Argentinian was so enamoured he wrote a letter of endorsement to Liverpool, who have now also ordered the kit.

‘He’s got very bad knees, he waddles when he walks,’ said Nelson. ‘But in the pool he was sprinting like he did for Argentina. It took him back 20 years. It changed his life.’

Fan: Former Argentina manager Diego Maradona is a fan of the suit

Fan: Former Argentina manager Diego Maradona is a fan of the suit

The next time an injured England player joins up with the squad at Burton he will be given a suit to train in too as the Football Association have bought 25.

TERRY NELSON’S UPLIFTING STORY IN HIS OWN WORDS

The suit comes from a lot of illness and injury. I played for Liverpool for three and a half years between 1977 and 1981. But that ended through a groin injury.

After a couple of years I went into the Paratroopers but that was ended by kidney failure. My military career was over. I had a transplant and entered the British athletics championships for people with transplants in 1993 and won gold for the 5000m.

Before the following world championships I broke my foot badly with a metatarsal injury so I couldn’t train. But I ordered these floatation belts from the United States and ran in the pool for six weeks. My foot healed and I went to Canada and won gold again.

Then I fell ill, my transplant failed. I spent 12 years in hospital six days a week on kidney dialysis. In those six days to keep myself well, my heart good, I was in a wheelchair I used to go to the pool and jog in the water. It was like groundhog day.

I had my second transplant and I’m really well now. I spent two years in the United States learning technical skills then came back but the belt wasn’t enough. That’s when I developed the suit.

I had my leg amputated below the knee in December last year – it was connected to the kidney failure – so I’ve got a carbon fibre leg now and I still run in the pool. It hasn’t stopped me.

All my experience I pass on to the players – don’t get down, you can train.

Bizarrely, Hollywood has called as well. A boxing connection put Mickey Rourke in touch and he is having one made so he can train for an upcoming movie role, with Nelson flying out to Bel Air to assist.

Nelson designed the suit after a lifetime of injuries and illness. He had to quit Liverpool and say goodbye to fellow youth-team members Sammy Lee and Dave Watson in 1981 after sustaining a groin injury.

He joined the paratroopers but was forced to end his career after being diagnosed with kidney failure. After a transplant he won gold at world championships open specifically for those in his situation and during this time discovered the US-manufactured floatation bands.

But his transplant failed and he spent 12 years in hospital on dialysis before having a second successful operation. His son would push his wheelchair to the pool so he could keep his heart in check.

Once out and healthy, he determined to make a product which could not only enable footballers to keep training when injured but also lift their spirits.

‘They have a freedom,’ said Nelson. ‘It rejuvenates their mind as well, because players can get very down if they can’t run.

‘But the suit’s not just for injuries, it can be used when fit. It’s a conditioning suit too.

‘Let’s say we have a player coming to the end of their career – rather than going out on a wet windy training ground, a couple of sessions in the pool helps keep the player’s knees in better condition. And the career could last longer as there’s no impact.’

Roberto Mancini might feel the last thing Madrid’s galaxy of stars need is a special suit of armour.

P.S. At least one Manchester City player owns a suit. Diego Maradona is a big fan and he ordered a dozen for friends and family, including son-in-law Sergio Aguero.

Andy Murray should have had home support against Roger Federer

Mike Dickson: Why British fans should always back Murray… even against His Rogerness

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UPDATED:

14:22 GMT, 12 November 2012

In a global survey of 50,000 people last year, Roger Federer emerged as the world’s second most trusted and admired human being behind Nelson Mandela.

Andy Murray might console himself with this fact as he begins his off-season today, perhaps wondering why his match at the 02 Arena last night occasionally felt like an away Davis Cup tie versus Switzerland.

Outside his homeland Federer is admired nowhere more than he is in the UK, and understandably so, given his marvellous deeds at Wimbledon and the way that, even at 31, he remains among the most miraculously gifted and graceful athletes in any sport to watch.

Basle-on-Thames: There was overwhelming support for Roger Federer at the O2 Arena on Sunday

Basle-on-Thames: There was overwhelming support for Roger Federer at the O2 Arena on Sunday

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He also attracts an international travelling fan club unlike anyone else in tennis, so it was no surprise that there were so many national flags and T shirts on show bearing the white cross on a red background.

It all made for an outstanding atmosphere, but what was also surprising was the lack of emphatic support for the home player, one playing his first tournament in London since his historic achievement of banishing the ghost of Fred Perry by winning the US Open.

And wasn’t that emotional and generous speech after the Wimbledon final meant to have turned us into a nation of Murray converts at long last

Not on the evidence of last night, when he actually got booed by some sections as he changed his racket during the tiebreak.

One colleague reported astonishment at finding that someone with a broad Scottish accent was wearing one of those ‘RF’-logoed shirts.

The Fed Express: Federer beat Murray 7-6 7-2 in front of a number of his own fans, despite the match being in London

The Fed Express: Federer (above) beat Andy Murray (below) 7-6, 7-2 in front of a number of his own fans, despite the match being at the O2 in London

The Fed Express: Federer beat Murray 7-6 7-2 in front of a number of his own fans, despite the match being in London

If I had a pound for every time I told a reader, colleague or friend that the British No 1 is a more appealing chap for the knowing than he comes across on court or in a formal interview I would now be reclining on my yacht in the Caribbean, so let us not go back over old ground.

There will always be a hard core of people in England who will blame Murray for everything from the Barnett Formula to a throwaway line about not supporting England at football when he was much younger, but the fair-minded seemed to have warmed to him more than last night suggested.

What is certain is that he has handled himself impeccably since Wimbledon and has noticeably matured.

His extraordinary work ethic and monastic devotion to his sport has always been there to admire, and now increasingly he is able to make sense of the world in which he finds himself.

His bold decision to hire Ivan Lendl as coach, and the resulting Grand Slam victory, has simply been one of the great stories of a great sporting year.

No 1 fan Actor Kevin Spacey was in the crowd watching the match

No 1 fan Actor Kevin Spacey was in the crowd watching the match

Yet who is more likely to to win an award on Sports Personality of the Year next month Tennis players traditionally do well in the Overseas category, with six recipients in the last eleven years.

Novak Djokovic is the holder and Federer has won it three times.

He probably will not win it again in the year of the London Olympics, but he will not be far off in recognition of his latest Wimbledon title.

Murray is sure to poll strongly, as he should after achieving so much in a global individual sport which he competes at without any help from team-mates, but last night’s events bolster the view that Bradley Wiggins is a cert.

Popular: Federer has a huge following outside his native Switzerland

Popular: Federer has a huge following outside his native Switzerland

At what is a truly international event in a very international city it was not that Murray received a hostile reception from the 17,800 packed into the O2.

He was roared onto the court at the start of the match, and you can be sure that if it was against ABF (Anyone But Federer) he would have been the crowd favourite.

Seemingly we are prepared to forgive Federer’s his odd fashion faux-pas and occasional unselfconscious arrogance, but find it harder to look beyond Murray’s less serene demeanour on court to see how true he is to himself away from it.

Nonetheless, you would hope that next time a predominantly British crowd will not bend the knee quite so much before His Rogerness and get more behind a British player.

League Two round-up: Barrett keeps Gills five points in front

League Two round-up: Barrett keeps Gills five points in front

PUBLISHED:

19:04 GMT, 10 November 2012

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UPDATED:

19:04 GMT, 10 November 2012

Gillingham maintained their five-point lead at the top of npower League Two after Adam Barrett secured a late 2-2 at Plymouth.

The Gills looked to be slumping to their second defeat of the season when Luke Young put the hosts ahead with 11 minutes to go but Barrett headed in with two minutes remaining.

Net profit: Gillingham's Adam Barrett (second right) scores the leveller

Net profit: Gillingham's Adam Barrett (second right) scores the leveller

Earlier, Curtis Nelson put Plymouth ahead but Ben Strevens equalised after 38 minutes.

Second-placed Port Vale could not capitalise after drawing 0-0 at Southend and are now level on 32 points with Cheltenham, who edged out Burton 1-0 thanks to a late Chris Zebroski goal.

A Nahki Wells brace enabled Bradford to move up to fourth with a 2-0 win at rock-bottom Aldershot while big-spending Fleetwood were twice pegged back in a 2-2 draw at Exeter.

Phil McNulty and Barry Nicholson gave the north-west side the lead on two occasions but the Grecians earned a point thanks to a Jamie Cureton effort and a John O'Flynn spot-kick.

Bobby Grant scored a deflected last-minute winner as Rochdale won 2-1 at struggling Wycombe.

Ashley Grimes' early effort was cancelled out by Wanderers' Joel Grant but Rochdale snatched it when Bobby Grant netted in the closing seconds.

Torquay slipped out of the play-off spots after a 0-0 draw at Oxford and promotion hopefuls Rotherham were thrashed 5-0 at Dagenham and Redbridge.

Dwight Gayle and Luke Howell both scored twice as Dagenham ran riot with Medy Elito also getting on the scoresheet. Adebayo Akinfenwa scored his first Northampton hat-trick as the Cobblers came from behind to win 4-2 at Accrington.

Stanley led 2-1 after George Miller and Rommy Boco cancelled out Akinfenwa's opener but Northampton substitute Jake Robinson levelled and burly striker Akinfenwa secured the points for the visitors with two late strikes.

Wimbledon moved away from the bottom two with a surprise 3-0 win at York.

Byron Harrison and Stacy Long put the Dons in control and Jack Midson added a third from the spot.

Richard Brodie scored two penalties as Morecambe beat Barnet 4-1.

Morecambe were 2-0 up inside 10 minutes thanks to goals from Kevin Ellison and Andrew Fleming before Brodie's double added gloss. Jon Nurse hit a consolation for Barnet in injury time.

Tom Eaves netted an 80th-minute winner as Bristol Rovers beat Chesterfield in a five-goal thriller.

Spireites defender Sam Togwell's own goal handed Rovers the lead but Mark Randall equalised with a free-kick.

Joe Anyinsah slid the Pirates back into the lead before debutant Brennan Dickenson levelled after 65 minutes.

But Eaves was the hero after 80 minutes with a deflected shot from 20 yards.

Can the truce between Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button survive for five races?

Can the fragile truce between Hamilton and Button at McLaren survive for five races

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UPDATED:

19:20 GMT, 12 October 2012

Having overcome the first threat to
team harmony since Lewis Hamilton announced he was joining Mercedes, a
fragile truce has been established at McLaren.

Jenson Button was exasperated by his team-mate’s ‘disrespect’ Twitter gaffe after last week’s Japanese
Grand Prix but with five races left before Hamilton leaves, there is
plenty of time for further problems to arise between the pair.

Determined: Jenson Button (left) wants to help McLaren win the constructors title

Determined: Jenson Button (left) wants to help McLaren win the constructors title

Their relationship has been in decline since Hamilton pulled a bold move on his team-mate in China last year, leaving Button with no option but to move aside or collide. He chose the former.

Four races later, on a wet track in Canada, Button closed the door on Hamilton as he tried to repeat the move, dumping him into the pit wall and out of the race.

Button won in Montreal against all the odds, proving he wasn’t prepared to be elbowed out of the way by Hamilton, on the track or off it.

Vrroom: Button says the constructors title is his big aim

Vrroom: Button says the constructors title is his big aim

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Having spent two years at Williams with
David Coulthard as a team-mate, Damon Hill knows all about the pressure
that comes with an all-British line-up in a British team, and admires
the way Button and Hamilton have held it together.

‘The idea that you are in the same team is a nice one and teams try to
give the impression their drivers are working together,’ said Hill. ‘But
your most significant rival is your team-mate, always.

‘Drivers have become more sophisticated in understanding PR. At
Williams, Nelson Piquet didn’t exactly love Nigel Mansell! In some ways
it was more honest but it also got quite ugly.

‘Drivers are better these days but you cannot pretend it is all sweetness and light between them.

‘There will always be tension. But as team-mates go, Lewis and Jenson
have behaved brilliantly. They have had mutual respect for each other.’

Chance: Lewis Hamilton (left) could still win the title

Chance: Lewis Hamilton (left) could still win the title

Time will tell whether that respect lasts until the end of the season.

There are not many genuine friendships within Formula One, although
Button and Force India driver Paul di Resta are an exception.

‘It is hard when you are competing,’ said Hill. ‘They avoid each other
because it makes life simpler. But there is camaraderie and a sense you
share something in common with the people that you race with.’

As they prepare for tomorrow’s South Korean Grand Prix, however, whether
Button has much left to say to Hamilton is another matter.

l Watch live coverage of the Korean Grand Prix on Sky Sports F1HD.

Raring to go: Hamilton practicing for the Korean Grand Prix

Raring to go: Hamilton practicing for the Korean Grand Prix

The Open 2012: Ernie Els hopes Adam Scott recovers

Ernie: I hope Scott doesn't take major defeat as hard as me

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UPDATED:

21:57 GMT, 22 July 2012

Ernie Els put an arm around Adam Scott’s shoulder on Sunday night and told him: ‘Don’t fall into a pit of despair like I did.’

Australian Scott was seemingly cruising to his first major championship success, only to finish with four straight bogeys on a dramatic afternoon at Royal Lytham to hand the title to the South African.

Done it all before: Ernie Els is an experienced player

Done it all before: Ernie Els is an experienced player

Said Els: ‘I’ve blown majors, I’ve been on the other end more than I’ve been on the winning end, and I hope he doesn’t take it as hard as me.’ While Scott suffered a disappointment that mirrored some of the dramatic losses suffered by his great idol Greg Norman, Els savoured his comeback from the ranks of the forgotten.

As he said: ‘Just about everything that can happen in the game I’ve gone through.’

The 42-year-old said he couldn’t wait to see wife Liezl, and his kids Samantha and Ben, who suffers from autism. Els has raised millions of dollars to build a new school near his home in Florida for kids who are autistic. He said: ‘Ben has got his sayings and he will be happy with his dad. Samantha will be there right next to him and Liezl and it’s going to be a great time to see them. Ben is coming along nicely. He’s a wonderful boy now, and we are going to have a lot of fun.’

Shellshocked: Adam Scott misses his crucial putt

Shellshocked: Adam Scott misses his crucial putt

Els had spent the morning watching his cricket buddies rack up the runs against England. ‘While I was doing that, kind of daydreaming, it came to me in a split second that I would thank Nelson Mandela in my speech. I grew up in the apartheid era and he was right there. And right after the change, I was the first one to win a major and he was on the phone talking to me in Pittsburgh. So we have intertwined in a crazy way.’

While Els was feeling ‘numb’ with victory, Scott looked shell-shocked. ‘We got to the 16th tee and I thought six good swings to finish out the round. But I couldn’t do it,’ he said. ‘Ernie is great and his words will help. I will take all the good stuff I did this week and use that for the next time I’m out on the course.’

Sir Alex Ferguson sings to Nelson Mandela

Sing when you're winning! Ferguson performs for Mandela on his 94th birthday

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UPDATED:

18:07 GMT, 18 July 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson is used to being the most respected and praised person in the room.

But even the great Manchester United manager knows who holds court when Nelson Mandela is around.

And so it was that Ferguson, in South Africa as part of the Red Devils' pre-season preparations, helped honour the former President turning 94 with a rendition of 'Happy Birthday'.

Scroll down to see video footage of Sir Alex Ferguson singing to Nelson Mandela

Making a difference: As part of their tour of South Africa, Manchester United players and staff have visited local children in townships, in partnership with the charity UNICEF

Making a difference: As part of their tour of South Africa, Manchester United players and staff have visited local children in townships, in partnership with the charity UNICEF

The 70-year-old, who has been in charge
at Old Trafford longer than Mandela has been a free man in his homeland,
was part of small group who serenaded the politician before cutting a
cake decorated with the United badge.

Of the meeting, Ferguson said: 'I have met him a few times now, and I think every time you meet him you're sort of in awe of him … his presence, his personality exudes all around you.'

Special welcome: Sir Alex Ferguson and Ben Amos were given a traditional Zulu welcome by the locals

Special welcome: Sir Alex Ferguson and Ben Amos were given a traditional Zulu welcome by the locals

Special welcome: Sir Alex Ferguson and Ben Amos were given a traditional Zulu welcome by the locals

Special welcome: Sir Alex Ferguson and Ben Amos were given a traditional Zulu welcome by the locals

Earlier in the day met other natives, this time children from Durban as part of his role as UNICEF UK Ambassador, a position he has held since August 2002.

Since UNICEF and Manchester United's 'United for UNICEF' partnership was launched in 1999, Sir Alex has played an active role in many fundraising and advocacy events. He is a committed supporter of UNICEF’s work to promote children's rights.

Previously, the Scot has seen UNICEF's child protection work in Thailand and China, as well as before in South Africa.

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