Tag Archives: throng

Wesley Sneijder paraded after joining Galatasary for 8.3m

Turkish delight! Thousands of Galatasaray fans mob new hero Sneijder in streets

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

21:29 GMT, 20 January 2013

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UPDATED:

18:10 GMT, 21 January 2013

Wesley Sneijder has been paraded around the streets of Istanbul to the delight of the huge crowds who turned out to meet him.

The midfielder was taken on a tour round the Turkish capital just hours after official confirmation of the move was announced.

Galatasaray had agreed a 8.3million deal to sign the Holland star from Inter Milan.

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Wesley Sneijder was greeted by a fanfare in Istanbul

What a welcome: Wesley Sneijder was greeted by a fanfare in Istanbul

Crowd scene: Sneijder's arrival at Ataturk airport was seen by a host of supporters

Crowd scene: Sneijder's arrival at Ataturk airport was seen by a host of supporters

Barely had Sneijder touched down at Istanbul's Ataturk airport before he was mobbed by a huge throng of people who had turned out to say shout their approval.

The 28-year-old had appeared to rule out a move to Turkey but in a dramatic U-turn decided the club would be right for him.

Numerous cameras and flares went off and the police struggled to keep the crowds under control, such was the frenzied atmosphere.

Flare play: There was an air of frenzied excitement in Istanbul at Sneijder's unveiling

Flare play: There was an air of frenzied excitement in Istanbul at Sneijder's unveiling

Mobbed: Fans climb on to Sneijder's car as he is paraded around

Mobbed: Fans climb on to Sneijder's car as he is paraded around

There was elation in Istanbul but would have been deflation on Merseyside. On Sky's Goals on Sunday programme Liverpool
captain Steven Gerrard said he would like to see Sneijder arrive at
Anfield but his appeal was too late.

Gerrard had said: 'He's a top player we've seen at every major tournament, he delivers.

'He's done it in the Champions League for years.

'But we have to see on his wages, the man I think gets paid very well. He'll have all kinds of options, I'm sure.

He was mobbed by thousands of fans as he made his way through the streets to talk to the media

Wanted: He was mobbed by thousands of fans as he made his way through the streets

 Sneijder met up with officials from Galatasary in the capital

Finished: Sneijder met up with officials from Galatasary in the capital

'But I'd like nothing more than to see him in a red shirt. I think he'd be a fantastic player for Liverpool Football Club.'

A statement on galatasaray.org read: 'The transfer of Wesley Sneijder from Inter Milan has been agreed.

'The conditions of the deal will be made public and the player will sign the contract after health checks.'

A
short conversation between Inter president Massimo Moratti and Sneijder
was released on the Serie A club's website earlier this evening, in
which both parties revealed the Dutchman was close to calling time on a
successful spell at the San Siro.

Reports in Italy and Holland suggested Sneijder and his agent Soren Lerby met with Galatasaray director Lutfi Arigogan in a Milan hotel this evening to finalise the details of a three-and-a-half year contract.

Sneijder has not featured for the Nerazzurri since a 2-0 victory at Chievo in September after publicly refusing to take a two million euro pay cut on a contract that ran until June 2015.

Supporters find every place to shout their approval of Sneijder's signing

Everywhere: Supporters find every place to shout their approval of Sneijder's signing

Head coach Andrea Stramaccioni maintained the playmaker's absence from the first team was solely a tactical decision, despite Inter's difficulty in keeping pace with league leaders Juventus through an injury crisis.

This week saw Moratti urge Sneijder to make a 'professional' decision over his future in Milan, where he won the treble under Jose Mourinho in 2010. The pair cleared the air before Sneijder headed for decisive talks with representatives of the Super Lig leaders.

Sports Personality: Andy Murray deserves the award – Martin Samuel

It's been the greatest sporting year we've seen, but there can be only one winner, so… It must be Murray

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UPDATED:

00:39 GMT, 15 December 2012

It is what you have to leave out that tells you what a year it has been. There is no room, for instance, to tell the story about standing at the back of the 16th green at Royal Lytham and St Annes, chatting amiably with course marshals about what a disappointing day of golf it had been.

There isn’t time to recount that we agreed Adam Scott had been given the easiest ride of any Open champion because the pursuing pack had not put him under pressure at all; or how, 15 minutes later, coming off the back of the 17th, Scott was a broken man and Ernie Els on the brink of one of the most astonishing victories in the history of major golf.

There is no space for such details because, at the very moment Els was profiting from one of the most spectacular implosions in a sport that rather specialises in them, Bradley Wiggins was successfully completing his own procession along the Champs-Elysees, to be the first British winner of the Tour de France.

Le Gentleman called for the excited throng, tens of thousands deep and hanging on his every word, to be quiet. ‘We’re just going to draw the raffle now,’ he told them. Yes, it was that sort of year.

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The best of the lot: Andy Murray memorably won the US Open title in November

The best of the lot: Andy Murray memorably won the US Open title in November

In British sport, 2012 will be talked
about like a 1990 Burgundy or a 1959 Bordeaux. We will drink this
cellar of special memories dry. 2012 was the year it came together; a
home Olympics and so many moments in orbit around it, that the year in
review seems almost mythical or magical, like Brigadoon, the mysterious
Scottish village that appears one day in every 100 years.

And
there was a night, a very special night in the Olympic Stadium when, in
the time it takes to play the first half of a football match, Britain
won more track-and-field gold medals than in the previous two Olympics
combined.

Glorious: Bradley Wiggins celebrates his Tour de France success in Paris

Glorious: Bradley Wiggins celebrates his Tour de France success in Paris

Greg Rutherford won the men’s long jump, Jessica Ennis the heptathlon and Mo Farah the 10,000 metres, each victory tearing the traditional narrative of plucky failure apart. A week later, Farah returned to do it again in the 5,000m.

Usain Bolt, the most famous athlete on the planet, celebrated his own victories by doing the Mobot, Farah’s M-shaped celebration invented by Clare Balding and christened by James Corden during a knockabout appearance on the sports quiz A League Of Their Own. Like Wiggo’s raffle joke, there seemed something very British about a gold medallist whose trademark was cooked up irreverently on the hoof.

It felt like us. It felt like modern Britain. The public go to the polls this weekend to decide the Sports Personality of the Year and the shortlist is a perfect cross-section of male and female, black and white, dis- and abled, yet there is not a hint of pre-determined correctness about it. This really was that sort of year.

Unforgettable: Mo Farah crosses the line to win the 5,000m at the London Olympics, and later Usain Bolt copied his famous celebration

Unforgettable: Mo Farah crosses the line to win the 5,000m at the London Olympics, and later Usain Bolt copied his famous celebration

Mo Farah and Usain Bolt at London Olympics

It was a coming together year, an
I-was-there year, a year for cliches about telling the grandkids and
remembering where you were when and keeping little scrapbooks, or
souvenirs, or at the very least crystallising memories, and it was a
year so good that sometimes we slip and forget how good it has been.

Football,
for instance, has had a terrible year, what with the racism and the
coin-throwing and the greatest finish to a title race in recent memory,
and the first London side winning the European Cup against
insurmountable odds on a penalty shootout and then Spain played the best
football anyone had seen for the first half of the European
Championship final and Chelsea are now one game from being world
champions and . . . and . . .

I’m
sorry, I’ll rephrase that. Football has had a great year, despite the
racism and the coin-throwing, because — well, like I said: Manchester
City, Chelsea in Munich, Spain and then there was this chap Lionel
Messi, who some of you might know.

What drama: Sergio Aguero scores the goal that won Manchester City the title

What drama: Sergio Aguero scores the goal that won Manchester City the title

And
Andy Murray! Hell’s bells, we nearly forgot Andy Murray, who came
closer to winning a Wimbledon men’s singles final than any British man
since the nation was represented in tennis by people called Bunny. Then
he won the gold medal at the Olympics, but we barely mention that now
because on September 10, Murray won the US Open, so we no longer have to
pretend Olympic gold is the pinnacle of his career and neither does he.

We
can return Olympic tennis to its rightful place and remember the
extremes of physical endurance that were required to overcome Novak
Djokovic in New York in Britain’s first men’s singles Grand Slam win in
76 years.

That an opponent who was believed to
have taken the sport to a new level of relentless, brutal athleticism
simply could not take any more remains arguably the sporting achievement
of the year.
Yet nothing
illustrates the pain and determination it took Murray to get there more
perfectly than a 20-minute vignette in defeat several months earlier.

It
went like this: Murray’s serve 15-0, 30-0, 40-0, 40-15, 40-30, deuce,
advantage Murray, deuce, advantage Federer, deuce, advantage Federer,
deuce, advantage Federer, deuce, advantage Murray, deuce, advantage
Murray, deuce, advantage Federer, deuce, advantage Federer, deuce,
advantage Murray, deuce, advantage Federer, game Federer. Third set, game six, Wimbledon final. Federer breaks Murray’s serve. But look what he had to do.

Finest hour: Murray in action during his US Open final showdown against Novak Djokovic in September

Finest hour: Murray in action during his US Open final showdown against Novak Djokovic in September

Revisited with hindsight, it truly was a matter of time before Murray won a Slam. Seeing what he put Federer through, of course he would later survive, victorious, the longest US Open final in history.

Is Murray the Sports Personality of the Year He’s mine. Wiggins would be a worthy winner, too, so would Farah and Ennis and Sir Chris Hoy and David Weir and, well just about any name on the shortlist and then some. The coward’s way out, a special 2012 award each, certainly had appeal. Yet it was not a matter of national debate that no Briton had won the Tour de France.

Nobody was button-holing Farah in the
street, asking urgently when the dominance of east Africans in
long-distance running would be at an end. Every
time Ennis lost it was not held up as symbolic of wider British failure
in modern life. That is what makes Murray different. He was dragging 76
years of British sporting gloom everywhere he went. No wonder those
shoulders occasionally slumped.

Hero: Ian Poulter was brilliant at the Ryder Cup at Medinah in September

Hero: Ian Poulter was brilliant at the Ryder Cup at Medinah in September

To
be there in New York when he finally cut that burden loose, to see
Murray on the balcony of the British Residence, the newly crowned king
of New York, felt like being present at the audiences granted by
heavyweight champions of the world in presidential suites in Las Vegas.
Murray, a boxing obsessive, would enjoy the comparison.

Like Wiggins, he is a man apart. Road cyclists from Kilburn High Road do not beat the French at their own game. What makes Wiggins unique is also what separates Murray, originating from a part of the world in which the weather is more conducive to bad chests than good tennis.

It applies to Farah, too. He is
Somali by birth, which is presumed to make him good at distance running;
except Somalia has no pedigree in the sport. What Farah has achieved
comes from growing up distance running in his miserable, wet, cold
northern hemisphere country, pounding the track when every human urge
must have been ordering him to get inside and into the warm. These are
remarkable people: champions and more.

What
else, what else in 2012 There was a horse, and what a horse. You can’t
give the SPOTY award to an equine candidate, so Frankel is not on the
BBC’s list, but by any measure of pure achievement, he should be. He
had personality, he had class, he had 14 wins in 14 races and nine of
those were Group Ones. He was the greatest quadruped athlete of his time
and some would say of any time. Cheering him home was a privilege for
more than just his supporters in the betting ring.

Memorable: Tom Queally celebrates after Frankel won his final race at Ascot

Memorable: Tom Queally celebrates after Frankel won his final race at Ascot

As was being in Medinah the night Europe’s golfers retained the Ryder Cup against all presumption, logic and gambling instinct. It was a win that defied explanation — like Liverpool in Istanbul in 2005 — except to say that in Ian Poulter, European golf has its Steven Gerrard figure. For AC Milan’s 3-0 half-time lead, read United States 10-4 up by Saturday afternoon on home soil. Poulter made five birdies to give Europe a chink of light that evening and the rest is history.

Except this time it truly is history.
All of it. All of them. The Olympians, the Paralympians, the golfers,
the horse, the footballers, watching Alastair Cook make another
subcontinent ton, watching England thump the All Blacks, watching West
Ham United win promotion on a tiny television screen erected by the nice
people from Sky in the lot outside the Allianz Arena before the
Champions League final, watching Hoy become Britain’s greatest Olympian,
and a personal favourite: that mad, mad look when Katherine Copeland
knew she had won rowing gold for Britain, and turned to her partner
Sophie Hosking.

‘We’re going to be on a stamp,’ she said.

It was that kind of year. Very special. Very British.

Special: Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hoskins celebrate Olympic rowing gold

Special: Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hoskins celebrate Olympic rowing gold


The contenders for Sports Personality

I"m a Celebrity: Eric Bristow"s arrows at Helen Flanagan put darts legend in line for the chop – Edge of the Box

Bristow's arrows at Helen and co put darts legend in line for the chop

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UPDATED:

16:35 GMT, 23 November 2012

Is it me, or has it all got just a little bit genteel in the jungle since it hasn’t been 'The Helen Show' Suddenly, I find myself hankering for the drama and the histrionics surrounding her and the bushtucker trials.

Instead, we have the plucky and straightforward Pussy Cat Doll Ashley nailing her task and winning the camp a Thanksgiving feast, no fuss, no bother.

Mind you, even though she wasn’t the main attraction, Helen still managed to get herself involved and generate a thin lather of soap opera by nicking Ashley’s clean towel when the poor girl returned to the camp coated in goo.

Game for a laugh: Eric Bristow shares a joke with former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts in the jungle

Game for a laugh: Eric Bristow shares a joke with former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts in the jungle

So as she nipped off for a well earned shower, Helen was left to complete a task she’d never done before, which was to clean a towel – a task she told the gathered throng, she normally outsources. Which caused David Haye to cry in consternation ‘who sends a towel to the dry cleaners!’.

Of course the whole point of the jungle is to bring together a whole bunch of opposites and see what fits, and what rubs up against each other.

If you want that kind of contrast, look no further than Eric and Hugo walking off into the trees together to listen to records. With treats at stake, the pair had to find numbers hidden in songs they played on a wind up gramophone.

Eye-opener: David Haye was flabbergasted by some of Helen Flanagan's behaviour

Eye-opener: David Haye was flabbergasted by some of Helen Flanagan's behaviour

The music selection totally dumbfounded the young Old Harrovian, but Eric new them all! ‘This was No 1’, he told his posh (Mister Bristow’s word) partner as he sang along to ‘Shaddup You Face’. ‘It was late eighties…loads of c**p records were No 1 then’, before going on to explain the subtle intricacies of ‘The Birdie Song’ .

If Danny Baker ever needs a break from his forthcoming BBC 4 music programme, we’ve got his replacement right here.

Eric was actually in a chirpier mood than he had appeared to be in the last couple of days. He’d recently had a pop at Helen, and last night it was Rosemary’s turn. Yet he remains defiant. ‘I keep taking the mickey’, he told us from the diary room, ‘but if you’re easily upset, you shouldn’t be here’.

Face it Helen, it's not going to get any easier: Bristow has vowed to keep taking the mickey out of Flanagan

Face it Helen, it's not going to get any easier: Bristow has vowed to keep taking the mickey out of Flanagan

Of our trio of sports-connected celebs, I think that ‘take no prisoners’ approach could see Eric the first to take the long walk off a short rope bridge.

But for now, he’s still very much there as it was Limahl – who only turned up, like, two days ago! – proving that, in fact, not all stories are never-ending.

Which means at least Ant, Dec or me don’t get to pun on either of his two hits anymore.

James McClean looks a sorry state as Irish winger has nowhere to hide after Twitter outburst

McClean looks a sorry state as Ireland winger has nowhere to hide after Twitter outburst

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

21:23 GMT, 9 September 2012

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UPDATED:

21:23 GMT, 9 September 2012

He may have won his Ireland reprieve
with a humiliating apology on Saturday afternoon but James McClean
looked like a man who wanted to be a million miles away from Kingston on
Sunday morning.

The neat and tiny Kingsmeadow ground
on the outskirts of London – The Cherry Red Records Stadium to give it
its full title – plays host every week to modest crowds watching League
Two and non-league matches.

The only notable spectators in the
stands were keeper Keiren Westwood and defender Sean St Ledger, who are
both likely to be left to their own devices on Tuesday as well, sitting
out the friendly at Craven Cottage.

Ireland's James McClean

Feelign the heat: Ireland's James McClean

Other than them, a small throng of Irish journalists, a few bemused AFC Wimbledon officials and their ground staff, plus assorted FAI bodies, had assembled to observe a training session with the legendary Giovanni Trapattoni and his Ireland team.

All our eyes were on McClean. And through the searing south-west London heat, the poor lad toiled for every painful second. He looked like a man, in fact a boy, who wanted the ground to swallow him up and put an end to his very obvious misery.

No doubt still living through the stupidity of pressing the send button on his phone from the team bus on Friday night, McClean looked like a footballer with the weight of the world on his shoulders. And this was a Sunday morning run-out in Kingston.

The moment the practice match bibs were handed out, McClean knew he was in trouble.

Robbie Brady, anxious, excited and eager to impress, was handed one of the orange garments. McClean was overlooked by the coaches, left to ponder how much of a twit he has been in the reserve team, and then plonked in the centre of midfield, presumably as additional punishment. Every touch, every shot, every moment went awry. And he struggled to hide his contempt and disappointment.

Not amused: Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni

Not amused: Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni

This time he didn't need Twitter to make a twit of himself. The ball was doing it for him.

It was almost painful to watch, and as an observer who has seen every one of McClean's home matches since he made his sensational arrival at the Stadium of Light under Martin O'Neill in nine months, it was an alien performance and unlike anything the winger seems capable of.

The boy from Derry had not expected his Ireland career to shape up this way when he made the difficult and controversial choice of picking this particular colour of green for his international future.

Although he has no right to expect a starting place in the Irish team yet, and although he is still naive, raw and inexperienced, he surely deserves better treatment – and longer than 17 competitive minutes – for being hauled across to Italy, Hungary, Poland and now Kazakhstan.

As Sportsmail's columnist Kevin Kilbane said last week, McClean is Ireland's in-form Premier League player and he should be in the team from the start.

Sadly Trapattoni takes the opposite view and he appeared to have little sympathy with the player's well-publicised remarks and his obvious agony. There was no arm round McClean's shoulder, in fact there was little if any eye contact.

If Trapattoni is trying to ruin another young Irish footballer, who just happens by coincidence to play for Sunderland, and run him out of the squad, he is going the right way about doing it.

In favour: Robbie Brady (left)

In favour: Robbie Brady (left)

By contrast, Brady was having the time of his life.

Maybe it was the bib, maybe it was the call-up and the chance to show his talents to the senior boys. Whatever it was, Brady was the one winger with a smile on his face as he came off the lush Kingsmeadow turf. Trapattoni even had a private word with him, very publically in front of the main stand.

'It was my first few hours and I really enjoyed it,' Brady said. 'They are a good group of lads and I have been welcomed from the first moment I came in.

'I know John O'Shea from United and Paul McShane when I was at Hull, so I know quite a few of the lads from being around the football scene so it was not as if I was coming in and not knowing anybody. They made me fit in so it was great.

'The manager had a quick word and said that he had me on the radar for a while so I'm glad to hear that and that I am in.

'I've been working hard all year, it's been a good season for the 21s and I got my best ever run with Hull and I'm just delighted to have been called up to the squad. And, hopefully, come Tuesday if I get a chance I'll be able to show what I'm about.

'But I just don't want to come in, meet everybody, say 'hello' and go back out. Hopefully I have come in to stay.'

And while he may not have played a meaningful minute in a Manchester United shirt, and failed to hold down a regular starting place at Hull City last season, the Baldoyle Boy, once of St Kevins, has been promoted in to Tuesday's starting line-up ahead of McClean.

To add insult to McClean's hurt, he even talked up Brady to an extent even Sir Alex wouldn't recognise him.

'He's a type of player we are missing,' said Trapattoni. 'He has vision, can pass and can shoot, like James McCarthy but he has other midfield work like Meyler. Brady sees the pass immediately, he has the pitch in front of him, he can pass and shoot, he is intelligent and clever.'

Robbie was not the only Brady on Trapattoni's mind.

At the end of his pitchside press briefing, the Italian was informed of Liam Brady's surprise criticism of his old manager's style of play which was adopted in Poland and failed. The depressing long ball tactic was restored in Astana and even Brady found it painful to watch.

It was at this moment – to the amusement of the Wimbledon staff at least – that Trapattoni became typically animated, voluble, yet no entirely coherent. He even grabbed a pen and pad and scribbled diagrams and notes. His minders wanted him out of there, but Trapattoni wanted to talk. Or shout. And it was still clear as mud.

But he said: 'Liam Brady He was never a manager

'I lie awake in the night and I think about a new team, how we play in defence, how we develop the game.

'In the first 50 minutes, we had three chances, how many after one hour You could pass the ball for 80 minutes and still lose one or two nil.

'We had to save energy. So then we play the long ball and the second ball. We're not Manchester United – tip tip tap tap – we needed our strength.'

Brian Clough once said of players showing dissent. 'Well, we talk about it for 20 minutes and then decide I was right.'

As Liam Brady will tell Robbie Brady and James McClean, it is a philosophy Giovanni Trapattoni knows very well, and they will have to accept that. Or stay at home.

Lance Armstrong tells fans: Don"t cry for me

Don't cry for me! Banned 'drugs cheat' Armstrong reassures fans his future's bright

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UPDATED:

12:33 GMT, 26 August 2012

Lance Armstrong has told supporters not to cry for him following the United States Anti-Doping Agency's decision to strip his seven Tour de France titles and ban him for life.

In his first public appearance since announcing he would no longer fight doping charges brought by USADA, Armstrong finished second in a 36-mile mountain bike race in Aspen, Colorado, five minutes behind a 16-year-old rider, Keegan Swirbul.

Wearing sunglasses and black and gold riding gear adorned with sponsors' logos, Armstrong appeared unfussed by the media throng that had travelled to the mountain resort amid concerns his legacy has been irrevocably tarnished.

On your bike: Armstrong finished second in the Power of Four mountain bike race in Aspen

On your bike: Armstrong finished second in the Power of Four mountain bike race in Aspen

Armstrong said: 'Nobody needs to cry for me. I'm going to be great. I have five great kids and a wonderful lady in my life. My foundation is unaffected by all the noise out there.

'I think people understand that we've got a lot of stuff to do going forward. That's what I'm focused on and I think people are supportive of that. It's great to be out here,' he said.

Despite giving up the fight against the charges, Armstrong has maintained his innocence and railed against what he says is an unfair witch-hunt.

The Texas-born cyclist, who famously beat cancer and whose foundation Livestrong has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the fight against the disease, has retained major sponsors and enjoyed the backing of many key cycling figures.

Others, including WADA chief John Fahey, say his failure to contest his charges can only mean he is a drug cheat who has defrauded the cycling tour, his rivals and millions of sports fans for over a decade.

Support: fans have rallied round Armstrong after he was stripped of his seven Tour titles

Support: fans have rallied round Armstrong after he was stripped of his seven Tour titles

Support: fans have rallied round Armstrong after he was stripped of his seven Tour titles

The Armstrong case has yet to rest, with cycling's global governing body, the International Cycling Union, demanding USADA hand over its evidence.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport could ultimately have a final say on his guilt or innocence.

The retired Armstrong said he was no longer concerned about racing.

'It's more about staying fit and coming out here and enjoying one of the most beautiful parts of the world, on a beautiful day, on a very hard course,' said the 40-year-old.

'Some may say you're a little sick to spend your free time doing stuff like this. I had a good time.'

Armstrong remained the 'seven-time Tour champ' to teenager Swirbul. 'I'm so psyched right now,' he said. 'I wanted to win this race so bad.'

Cash boost: Donations to Armstrong's foundation exploded in wake of the news

Cash boost: Donations to Armstrong's foundation exploded in wake of the news

Donations to his foundation on Friday were up more than 20 times their daily average, Livestrong staff said, and Armstrong received positive crowd support in Colorado.

'The people like the people who are standing around here or on the course, they voiced their opinion in the last 48 hours and are going to support us,' Armstrong said, adding that the future of cycling was in good shape.

'It's cool to get your butt kicked by a 16-year-old when you know he has a bright future,' he said. 'There are a lot of good young guys. Cycling is going to be fine.'

Wimbledon 2012: Serena Williams questions championship security

Williams questions Wimbledon security after she is mobbed by fans following win

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UPDATED:

21:39 GMT, 2 July 2012

Serena Williams said Wimbledon schedulers should take security into account before putting her on Court No 2 in future.

The sixth seed was ‘almost knocked over’ by dozens of excited fans following her win over Yaroslava Shvedova on Monday.

Getting through: Serena Williams celebrates her fourth round win over Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova

Getting through: Serena Williams celebrates her fourth round win over Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova

Four-time champion Serena made the
quarter finals by winning a tough encounter 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 then faced
another fight on her 170-yard walk to the locker rooms.

She said: ‘I literally was almost knocked over.

‘There were security guards in there just going nuts and screaming.

Recognisable face: Williams says she was mobbed by fans after her match on Court No 2

Recognisable face: Williams says she was mobbed by fans after her match on Court No 2

‘I’ve never heard them scream so loud. It was crazy out there. I was totally mobbed.

‘I thought I was going to fall down.
Maybe it can be taken into consideration.’ Asked if she was frightened,
Williams, 30, smiled: ‘No, I wasn’t scared. ‘Nobody is going to knock me
over, for real. I’d like to see that happen.

‘Maybe that’s why I got on Court No 2, because they knew I could back myself up.

Looking for another title: Williams has won Wimbledon four times and is looking for a fifth

Looking for another title: Williams has won Wimbledon four times and is looking for a fifth

‘I guess I really didn’t need (the security)!’

It was a tough match, too. The
decider went with serve until 5-5 when Shvedova sent over two double
faults in a row to hand Williams the decisive break. The American still
needed the luck of an unintentional lob, which lofted over a stranded
Shvedova, to fight back from 0-30 in the final game to rubber stamp
victory.

Cue a trademark Serena scream of delight, and that tussle through the throng.

Tour de France 2012: Lance Armstrong doping charge

Shadow of doubt follows Armstrong as seven-times winner faces doping charge

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UPDATED:

21:32 GMT, 1 July 2012

Feted on television, interviewed at length by deferential journalists and saluted by the throng as cycling royalty, Eddy Merckx was celebrated as the legend he is in the Liege suburb of Seraing on Sunday.

In the United States, meanwhile, Lance Armstrong continues to prepare his case against doping allegations levelled at him.

Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles, Merckx five. Yet the Belgian will always be adored, whereas the Texan’s name is uttered with a knowing stare or a hunch of the shoulders.

Under suspicion: Lance Armstrong (left) is accused of doping

Under suspicion: Lance Armstrong (left) is accused of doping

Even if he is cleared by an American tribunal, Armstrong will never convince everybody he did not cheat to win the world’s greatest bike race.

The US Anti-Doping Agency has charged Armstrong, 40, with using performance-enhancing drugs, citing blood samples which are ‘fully consistent’ with doping and witnesses who have yet to be named. He has until July 22 — the day this year’s Tour crowns its latest winner on the Champs-Elysees — to request a three-man panel for the hearing to which he and the USADA can each name one of the judges.

Publicly, his stance is the same as on every other occasion slurs have been made, whether by former team-mates or French sports newspaper L’Equipe: ‘I have never failed a doping test.’

Legends: Eddy Merckz (left) with Tour de France leaders Fabian Cancellara

Legends: Eddy Merckz (left) with Tour de France leaders Fabian Cancellara

It is not just Armstrong who will hold his breath over the outcome. So will the sport. If he is found guilty, cycling will be found guilty. Alberto Contador and Floyd Landis, both former team-mates of the American, have been stripped of their Tour wins, of 2010 and 2006 respectively. If the same fate befalls Armstrong, nine Tours between 1999 and 2012 will be deemed to have been won by cheating.

Then there is the Radioshack team Armstrong set up in 2010 with the help of former team manager Johan Bruyneel, one of five other team members also facing the charges.

Now Radioshack-Nissan, the team boasts Tour leader Fabian Cancellara and the injured Andy Schleck, named winner of the 2010 Tour following Contador’s disqualification. The circles keep tightening around each other.

Oh, for a new hero to emerge. Or for the halcyon days of Eddy Merckx.

Patrick Collins: Now there can be no doubt that Britain gets the Games

Now there can be no doubt that Britain gets the Games

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 26 May 2012

One week in and the relay has taken on the rhythm of a ritual: hours of waiting by a crowded roadside, a low rumble of expectation as the procession draws close, then a clamorous eruption of sheer delight as the golden cone is spotted, floating above the throng. Day by day, in their tens upon tens of thousands, the people have been flocking to the flame.

From the moment that London won the right to stage the Games, on that memorable afternoon in Singapore, some have wondered if Britain would ‘get it’. Would the nation readily accept the onerous expense, the burdensome responsibility and a substantial degree of disruption in order to put on an Olympics for the ages The answers have arrived with every inspiring stride of the torch relay.

In truth, the delirious response has come as no great surprise. Of course we get it. As a nation, we love sport and we are captivated by a big event. The Olympic Games are the apotheosis of sport, they are incomparably the grandest event on the planet. It was, therefore, inevitable that the British would throw themselves, heart and soul, at the challenge of making those Games a huge and memorable success.

Flaming the fire: The Olympic torch relay has captured the hearts of the British public

Flaming the fire: The Olympic torch relay has captured the hearts of the British public

Having covered every Olympics since Munich ’72, with the single exception of Montreal, I believe that London enjoys greater public support than any in my experience. At this stage of affairs, two months before the opening ceremony, most cities regarded the preparations with a kind of ominous suspicion.

In Athens they were still constructing their stadia. In Atlanta they believed, correctly as it proved, that the whole thing had the makings of a chaotic shambles. Even in Barcelona and Sydney, widely regarded as the finest of the modern Olympics, the public was initially unconvinced about the value of the entire exercise.

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Theatre of dreams: The Olympic stadium will play host to 17 days of sporting excellence

But we also know that a vast, hitherto desolate, expanse of east London has been wondrously transformed by the fact of the Games. We know that those Games will leave a legacy of fine buildings, glittering facilities and the kind of sporting investment we have not known in generations.

Of course, this legacy will need to be protected; not least when this Government can no longer bathe in a post-Olympic glow. But a successful Games will make official promises more difficult to break. Yet all these are for the years ahead. For the moment, we mark the passing days with the swell of noise and fervour and surging enthusiasm as the torch is carried on its journey of 8,000 miles through country lanes and city streets.

When the Games are officially opened, the stadium screens will carry the words of the founding father, Baron Pierre de Coubertin: ‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.’

Noble sentiments, but as the excitement grows and the scale of the achievement moves more sharply into focus, the song of another visionary springs to mind. It is a hymn to optimism, it is the work of Bob Marley, and its message is simple and soothing: ‘Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right.’

May it serve as the theme for the London Olympics.

Self-delusion is at the top of Dean’s agenda

Dean Richards is the man who orchestrated rugby’s ‘Bloodgate’ scandal, a piece of cheating which cost him the directorship of rugby at Harlequins and the respect he had accumulated over decades as a player and coach.
And yet, after serving a three-year ban, his confidence appears blissfully intact.

A week ago, he told this newspaper of his disillusion with the national situation. ‘England are not on my agenda at all,’ he said.

‘That fire burnt out a long time ago, as soon as they appointed someone like Johnno (Martin Johnson), in fact, someone who didn’t have the experience.

No stranger to confidence: Dean Richards

No stranger to confidence: Dean Richards

‘You have to ask yourself if you want to be part of a set-up that does things like that and the answer is “not at this moment”. If someone asked me about the England job right now, I would say No to it.’

There is a slim line between robust self-esteem and rampant self-delusion. Richards may have crossed it.

Red faces as Foden bares his pompous side

The initial instinct was to feel sorry for Ben Foden. When the England rugby full-back celebrated his stag party by cavorting stark-naked on stage with a gaggle of strippers, he did not expect to find incriminating pictures in the popular prints.

Caught short: Foden

Caught short: Foden

After all, what a chap does in the privacy of a ‘notorious Barcelona sex club’ is surely his own business. Poor show. Red faces all round.

But that might have been the end of it had Foden not elected to issue a warning to his less worldly England team-mates.

‘A picture speaks a thousand words and some things can be taken massively out of context,’ he prattled. ‘You have to be careful in what you are doing, especially on tour.’

The ‘thousand words’ cliche was merely banal but that ‘out of context’ ploy was absurdly crass. And the finger-wagging admonition — ‘You have to be careful’ — told us far more about Foden’s self-serving pomposity than we really wanted to know. The England team who disgraced themselves at last year’s Rugby World Cup contained a distressing number of players who believed their own publicity.

The new coach, Stuart Lancaster, was left with the task of separating the serious strivers from the vacuous poseurs. I suspect he still has some way to go.

PS

Not for the first time, Kevin Pietersen has caused a minor flutter with a spiteful little Tweet.

Aimed at Nick Knight, the Sky commentator, it accused Knight of ‘talking his way into the commentary box’, which is what commentators tend to do. Those who know Knight speak of a serious, articulate man of considered opinions; terms which are rarely applied to Pietersen.

But KP is undoubtedly more famous than Knight. He is a ‘celebrity’. And in the world of Kevin Pietersen, that may be the thing that really matters.

Sir Bobby Robson is still inspiring Newcastle

Sir Bobby's magic still inspiring Newcastle as statue is set to be unveiled

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UPDATED:

23:11 GMT, 5 May 2012

Sir Bobby Robson’s greatest quality was the ability to inspire.

It is no coincidence so many of his young players enjoyed fantastic careers, from Malcolm Macdonald (Fulham) to Luis Figo (Sporting Lisbon) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSV). Even his interpreter Jose Mourinho went on to make a decent living from the game.

Now, almost three years after his death from cancer, Sir Bobby’s famous motivational presence will be felt again at his first and strongest footballing love, Newcastle United.

Legend: Sir Bobby Robson will have a statue at St James' Park

Legend: Sir Bobby Robson will have a statue at St James' Park

A 9 ft bronze statue of their beloved former manager will be unveiled before Sunday’s game at St James’ Park against Manchester City.

And while the Premier League title race will be uppermost in City’s minds, Newcastle fans are hoping the ‘Bobby magic’ will push them even closer to a Champions League spot, last achieved under Robson’s management in 2003.

Robson’s family, led by his wife Lady Elsie, will be joined by Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, owner Mike Ashley and some of the club’s most famous players past and present.

Among the throng will be another less recognisable but equally important face, invited especially by the Robson family.

Remembered: Sir Bobby's wife Lady Elsie at St James' Park where thousands of tributes were left following the former Newcastle manager's death in 2009

Remembered: Sir Bobby's wife Lady Elsie at St James' Park where thousands of tributes were left following the former Newcastle manager's death in 2009

Charlie Woods was not just Robson’s player, coach, scout and general sounding board for 40 years, he was also his ‘best friend and closest confidant’, according to Mark Robson, the youngest of Sir Bobby’s three sons.

Woods first met Robson in 1969 when the aspiring young manager joined Ipswich Town, and they were inseparable from then.

‘We had a connection because we were both North-East boys in Suffolk. Bobby was always proud of his roots,’ said Woods.

‘He loved Newcastle United. His dad used to take him to St James’ Park as a boy. They’d be first in the queue at 11am.

‘The irony is Bobby never played for them, but I did, even though my career wasn’t as good as his. I remember Bobby walking in the door at Ipswich for the first time. He said a few words and you could see right away he had stature and charisma. You thought, “This is the feller”.

‘This statue is a fantastic honour for him — but he’ll want Newcastle to win on the day to cap it off.’

Nenad Milijas"s red card debate – The Midlander

Right or wrong Debate over Milijas's red card rages on…

The week may have passed but I think it's time for a little clarification, having spoken to various parties, on Nenad Milijas's sending-off at the Emirates Stadium.

As most Wolves' fans will have seen, Mick McCarthy took the unusual step of darkening the lights at the Sir Jack Hayward training ground in Compton to run DVD footage and talk the assembled press through the sending-off of the Serbian international.

After asking the expectant throng whether they thought a red card should have been the punishment – there was one dissenting voice from the general chorus – McCarthy set off on his own passionate musings.

Speaking out: Mick McCarthy runs through his version of events

Speaking out: Mick McCarthy runs through his version of events

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

I'm going to re-produce it here, because I think it's important in what follows as to where I think the actual burden of blame lies for this whole incident.

McCarthy said: 'I think the fabric of the British game is based on people tackling – and I think Milijas has made a really good one.

'I don't think Stuart Attwell can see it. My point is this: Rarified atmosphere, tackle – sending-off – they are all up for it. It's 1-1 in the 74th minute and we are drawing.

'Nenad's foot is on the floor. He's not jumped. He's slid in. He's got his studs up because you cannot slide with your studs in the turf.

'If ever there is a picture of someone getting the ball – that's it. The referees' report ticks every box. It said that he came in with force with his studs up and slid in.

'My point is that no-one thinks it's reckless endangerment towards the other player. So, how can he be sent-off

'I've had a lovely text from one of my fellow managers saying: “God help us.” I sent him one back asking: “What's up” He replied: “That sending-off.” We might as all give up.

'Look, in that atmosphere anyone can make a mistake. But why then compound that mistake by agreeing with it

'Have you heard me admit to a mistake this season Have you heard me come in and say: “We were bobbins today I got that wrong”

'I generally do and what I would like is the same treatment. I said to the official at Norwich, coming off, it looks like you’ve joined a good club here (after Steven Fletcher's late strike was ruled out for offside). Somebody told me it was onside and I went and apologised to him.

'I said: “I’m sorry, I was given duff information, he was offside.” I’m more than happy to do that – and I have done – the referees would be more than happy to back that up. I’ve spoken to them or to Mike Riley when I’ve got it wrong and I’ve said: “Sorry about that.” I’m not being treated the same here.'

Turning point: Nenad Milijas was sent off for this foul on Mikel Arteta

Turning point: Nenad Milijas was sent off for this foul on Mikel Arteta

The first point to make is that there was pretty compelling evidence from Wolves' video analyst that referee Attwell did not have a clear view of the incident.

He required the ability to see through two Arsenal players to have an unimpeded sightline.

McCarthy absolved Mikel Arteta of any blame. I don't think the player's reaction aided the situation, but that was probably the point. He was unhurt and recovered sufficiently to be able to take the resultant free-kick.

As Wolves were on the cusp of receiving clearance from Arsenal that they were able to take Emmanuel Frimpong on loan for the rest of the season, no surprises for guessing why the Gunners' midfielder escaped censure from McCarthy. But I digress.

Now we come to the appeal. The board is a three-man body, comprising one Football Association official who understands the laws and accompanying rules and regulations.

The two others are 'football experts' drawn in as and when required. They could be former managers or coaches. For example, ex-England manager Graham Taylor used to sit on them occasionally but had to give up his position when he returned to Watford.

The first thing to note is that they only judge on the incident that led to the dismissal. ie Milijas's tackle in isolation. Any whinging Mick was doing about what happened earlier, while it may have had merit, is irrelevant.

The second point is that it can only be overturned if there is a 'serious and obvious error.'

This whole appeal process was brought into English football initially to deal with cases of wrongful identity. It has been used since to argue a whole host of other 'injustices,' (such as the Sammon red card which was over-turned) but there is a natural inclination towards backing the officials.

The reason for this is that England is one of only two countries in Europe (Germany is the other, I believe) that has the ability to rescind red cards.

It has been handed special
dispensation to do so from FIFA. However, the organising body in world
football is not keen for this practice to exist. As such, the Football
Association has to tread carefully and not abuse the process.

That's the background sorted out. Now the nitty-gritty.

Attwell did not flag up anything untoward when he forwarded his report. The FA has confirmed that.

It would have been a different story
had the Nuneaton official, on reflection, decided that he had been
harsh. It would have had a major influence on the situation.

That didn't happen. So, the panel
felt that there was not a 'serious and obvious error' and upheld the
referee's initial decision, invoking McCarthy's ire.

Anger: Wolves and Arsenal players surround Stuart Attwell

Anger: Wolves and Arsenal players surround Stuart Attwell

Before I move on, I would also add that Wolves could have taken their appeal down one of two avenues.

The first is the wrongful dismissal appeal. The club wanted the three-match suspension overturned, full stop.

However, they could have argued that the standard sanction (ie the three-match ban) is excessive. If they had gone down that route, though, they would have been admitting that Milijas did, indeed, have a case to answer it could have led to a reduced suspension.

But McCarthy did not want to go down that path.

Having heard all sides – apart from the referee himself who I can't get near – my own personal opinion is that McCarthy has fallen victim to an unusual set of circumstances – but one that could have been avoided.

First, I don't see how Attwell has a clear view of the incident.

I agree with McCarthy that mistakes happen. But there's no doubt that Milijas's tackle carried minimal risk. It certainly carried a lot less risk to Arteta than Frank Lampard's did to Adam Hammill last Monday. The Chelsea man stayed on the pitch. (No wonder inconsistency drives managers mad.)

The appeals panel would have been helped no end by the referee admitting that, on reflection, his decision was harsh. But no, that wasn't forthcoming.

Attwell's evidence (ie that Milijas's tackle did endanger another player's safety) meant that the three-man team were effectively discussing the degree to which they thought/didn't think Milijas had risked Arteta's well-being. Therefore it wasn't a serious error. Therefore, the appeal could not be upheld.

This is, after all, the same official who made the mistake of sending-off Bolton's Gary Cahill at White Hart Lane recently.

He admitted that one. But as he's reportedly the up-and-coming golden boy, it seems that he cannot be seen to be making another mistake so quickly after his high-profile gaffe involving Spurs. He might lose a few marks from the assessor, after all.

Personally, I'm with McCarthy. To me, tackling remains an integral part of the game of football. There is an art to it.

I like clean tackles. So does any crowd. There has to be recognition however, that when a tackler goes in to win the ball, there is little risk of injury to him. That burden falls upon the player with the ball. The amendment to the laws is supposed to reflect that and offer protection.

On this occasion, I don't think Milijas showed undue disregard for Arteta. But I also don't think that the panel had any other option but to uphold the three-match ban without the referee saying he made a mistake.

In this instance, Attwell made an error and then compounded it by not being big enough to admit it in the cold light of day.

And McCarthy, Wolves and Milijas are paying for it.