Tag Archives: victories

Roberto Mancini and Sir Alex Ferguson battle for Premier League title on the PlayStation

Revealed! How Mancini and Fergie battled it out for the Premier League title… on the PLAYSTATION

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

11:20 GMT, 2 March 2013

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UPDATED:

11:20 GMT, 2 March 2013

With Manchester United enjoying a 12 point lead, the Barclays Premier League trophy is surely already adorned in red and white ribbons.

As a result, Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini must take the small victories as and when they come – even if they're on the PlayStation.

The Italian has been secretly meeting his adversary Sir Alex Ferguson to play out the title race in virtual reality, as this video footage shows.

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PlayStation battle: Mancini and Ferguson decide the Premier League title on the City manager's blue console

PlayStation battle: Mancini and Ferguson decide the Premier League title on the City manager's blue console

But even on his blue PlayStation, Mancini can't get the better of his nemesis.

The voyeuristic spoof video is the creation of filmmaker Alison Jackson, who uses uncanny Mancini and Fergie lookalikes.

It's to promote the new limited edition Super Slim PlayStation consoles, available in red or blue depending on your allegiance.

The clip starts with Mancini frantically trying to figure out how City can make up the dozen point gap at the top of the league.

Letting go: Roberto Mancini with the Premier League title last season. His City side must overhaul a 12 point United lead to retain it

Letting go: Roberto Mancini with the Premier League title last season. His City side must overhaul a 12 point United lead to retain it

As he's tapping away on the calculator and scratching his head, there's a knock at the door.

A gloating Fergie pushes his way in and starts parading around with Mancini's replica Premier League trophy – resplendent in blue ribbons.

The pair decide to battle it out on the PlayStation to determine once and for all who will be champion and get to keep the silverware.

Laughing: Alex Ferguson knows another Premier League title is within reach

Laughing: Alex Ferguson knows another Premier League title is within reach

And after a rollercoaster match, it's Fergie who emerges victorious, showing an unexpected talent for football sims.

Delighted, the United boss skips out of the Mancini residence with the trophy safely in his possession again – though only after performing a cringe-worthy Gangnam style dance.

Time will tell whether the real title race has the same outcome.

The new Red or Blue limited edition Super Slim PlayStation consoles are available now. Twitter hashtag #RedorBlue

Wrong colour Adam Johnson showed off his customised PlayStation on Twitter this week

Wrong colour Adam Johnson showed off his customised PlayStation on Twitter this week

VIDEO: Watch the Mancini and Fergie PlayStation spoof

Arsenal"s Johan Djourou agrees Hannover loan

Djourou agrees Hannover loan spell as Arsenal clear-out gathers pace

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

13:24 GMT, 5 January 2013

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UPDATED:

13:37 GMT, 5 January 2013

Move: Johan Djourou will join Hannover

Move: Johan Djourou will join Hannover

Arsenal defender Johan Djourou has agreed to join Hannover on loan until the end of the season.

The Switzerland international has struggled to hold down a regular first-team place but is Arsenal's longest-serving player, having joined the club in 2004.

The 25-year-old has made just two appearances for the first team this season, captaining the side to Capital One Cup victories over Coventry and Reading.

Djourou's move to Germany is dependent on the formality of the necessary paperwork being completed as he has already passed a medical.

'Johan Djourou is an internationally-experienced footballer who we are convinced will be able to help us out quickly,' said Hannover's director of sport Jorg Schmadtke.

'He fits the bill perfectly for what we were looking for because he is also eligible to play for us in the UEFA Europa League.'

Coach Mirko Slomka has welcomed Djourou, saying: 'After losing Felipe and Leon Andreasen (to injury), we needed to act defensively.

'With his physical robustness, his tactical understanding and his high level of commitment, I am convinced we will profit from having him.'

Hannover are currently 11th in the Bundesliga.

Meanwhile, PSV Eindhoven are interested in taking Arsenal midfielder Andrey Arshavin on loan.

The 31-year-old rejected a move to Reading but is interested in linking up with former Russia coach Dick Advocaat in Holland.

Second chance: Marouane Chamakh has joined West Ham on loan

Second chance: Marouane Chamakh has joined West Ham on loan

Marouane Chamakh joined West Ham on loan yesterday after failing to prove himself at the Emirates.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been heavily linked with Barcelona striker David Villa who is available for 16million.

The Spaniard is ready to ask his club to grant him a January move to the Gunners.

Sportsmail exclusively revealed Wenger’s interest in the striker last month and talks between both clubs are ongoing.

Sources
close to the deal claim Villa is very keen on a move to the Emirates
Stadium during the transfer window and wants to speak with the north
London club.

2002 autumn internationals: How England tamed the big three

How England tamed the big three: Ten years on from an autumn to remember

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UPDATED:

23:49 GMT, 4 November 2012

Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal to win the World Cup in November 2003 is etched in the memory of every England rugby fan.

But the foundation was laid a year earlier with stunning victories in successive weeks in the 2002 autumn series against the three southern hemisphere giants New Zealand, Australia and South Africa – a feat achieved neither before nor since.

The series started on November 9, 2002 with the mighty All BIacks.

Try time: Danny Lee can't stop Jonny Wilkinson from scoring

Try time: Danny Lee can't stop Jonny Wilkinson from scoring

ENGLAND 31 NEW ZEALAND 28

ENGLAND: Robinson; Simpson-Daniel (Healey 77), Greenwood (Johnston 40), Tindall, Cohen; Wilkinson, Dawson; Woodman, Thompson, Vickery; Johnson, Grewcock (Kay 60); Moody, Hill, Dallaglio (Back 70).
Subs not used: Regan, Leonard, Stimpson.
Tries: Cohen, Moody, Wilkinson.
Cons: Wilkinson (2).
Pens: Wilkinson (3).
DG: Wilkinson.

NEW ZEALAND: Blair; Howlett, Umaga, Lowen (Robinson 46), Lomu; Spencer (Mehrtens 40), Devine (Lee 24); McDonnell, Hore, Meeuws; Robinson (Mika 60), Williams; Randall, Holah, Broomhall.
Subs not used: Mealamu, Hayman, So’oialo.
Tries: Howlett, Lee, Lomu (2).
Cons: Blair (2), Mehrtens (2).
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (SA).

It is sometimes forgotten England had not lost to southern hemisphere opposition since the South African tour in June 2000. They had also won 15 matches in a row at Twickenham, so confidence was high.

The match proved a real nail-biter, as the 31-28 scoreline would suggest. But it took a heroic Ben Cohen tackle in the corner and an equally vital Ben Kay line-out steal on England’s line to preserve the narrow advantage.

‘I’d come on as a replacement for Steve Borthwick,’ Kay remembers. ‘I had already established myself in the England squad. But I think that steal possibly cemented my reputation as a good line-out leader.

‘We proved that we could handle a
pressure situation just as we did in a different scenario against
Australia the week after. That was so important when we got to the World
Cup.’

The game against Australia had a strange
build-up. Any fly on the wall in the England team room at Pennyhill
Park Hotel 10 years ago next week would have been well advised to spread
his wings over his ears when two rugby giants clashed.

Wrecking ball: Jonah Lomu brushes aside James Simpson-Daniel

Wrecking ball: Jonah Lomu brushes aside James Simpson-Daniel

ENGLAND 32 AUSTRALIA 31

ENGLAND: Robinson; Simpson-Daniel, Greenwood, Tindall (Healey 80), Cohen; Wilkinson, Dawson; Leonard, Thompson, Vickery; Johnson, Kay; Moody, Hill, Back.
Subs not used: Regan, Morris, Grewcock, Dallaglio, Gomarsall, Stimpson.
Tries: Cohen (2).
Cons: Wilkinson (2).
Pens: Wilkinson (6).

AUSTRALIA: Burke; Sailor, Herbert (Giteau 73), Flatley, Mortlock; Larkham, Gregan; Noriega (Darwin 77), Paul (Freier 69), Young; Vickerman (Griffin 56), Harrison (Croft 70); Cockbain, Smith, Kefu.
Subs not used: Whitaker, Staniforth.
Tries: Sailor, Flatley (2).
Cons: Burke (2).
Pens: Burke (4).
Referee: Paul Honiss (NZ).

England No 8 Lawrence Dallaglio, fresh from playing his part in the famous defeat of the All Blacks, had just found out that he had been left out of the side to face the world champions. He wanted to ‘discuss’ the matter with a pre-knighted Clive Woodward, the England manager. ‘We lunched together the other day and had a good laugh about it,’ Dallaglio told Sportsmail.

‘At least Clive did. It is not a subject I could ever laugh about.’

Dallaglio,
the very personification of pride and patriotism, had quite reasonably
anticipated leading out England against the Aussies for his 50th cap. He
had never previously been dropped and never previously been allocated a
seat on an international bench.

He adds: ‘I was not happy. I think you can assume the air was blue.

‘I
thought I had played pretty well against New Zealand. The stats showed
that I had been top tackler. Actually, I don’t think Clive realised it
would have been my 50th cap.

Putting the boot in: Wilkinson kicks a penalty against the All Blacks

Putting the boot in: Wilkinson kicks a penalty against the All Blacks

Swallow dive: Ben Cohen goes over in the win against New Zealand

Swallow dive: Ben Cohen goes over in the win against New Zealand

‘At least I had captained England and experienced the honour of leading the team out. I would have been even angrier had I not and been denied that moment.’

Woodward remembers a ‘good’ meeting. ‘It was probably the stormiest I ever had with a player. Lawrence was furious. He did not like being dropped. He tried to persuade me to say that he had been rested. I refused. He had been dropped and that was that.’

Ben Kay, who replaced Danny Grewcock in the second row for the second of the Antipodean encounters, was a member of a group all too aware. ‘I heard some crashing about in Lawrence’s bedroom that night,’ he recalls.

Legend: England captain Martin Johnson breaks clear

Legend: England captain Martin Johnson breaks clear

Woodward pretty much knew his optimum World Cup XV even at that stage of the preparations. ‘The back row was certainly 100 per cent settled. It was always going to be (Richard) Hill, Dallaglio and (Neil) Back. They were all world class.’

In fact, neither Dallaglio nor Back were in the starting line-up for all three autumn internationals. But no fewer than 10 of the 15 who began the World Cup final featured in all three teams that November. Only Josh Lewsey of the World Cup side had yet to emerge. He did not make his home England debut until the 2003 Six Nations.

Job done: Johnson lifts the Cook Cup after the win over Australia

Job done: Johnson lifts the Cook Cup after the win over Australia

‘We did have a settled side,’ Woodward
says. ‘And it is important to keep winning and building momentum ahead
of a world championship.

‘But I have always thought it a bit of a cop-out when coaches talk about using any international as a preparation for this or that.

High hopes: A young Mike Tindall skips clear of a South African challenge

High hopes: A young Mike Tindall skips clear of a South African challenge

ENGLAND 53 SOUTH AFRICA 3

ENGLAND: Robinson; Cohen, Greenwood (Stimpson 70), Tindall, Christophers; Wilkinson (Healey 44), Dawson (Gomarsall 57); Leonard, Thompson, Vickery; Johnson, Kay (Grewcock 70); Moody (Dallaglio 14), Hill, Back.
Subs not used: Regan, Morris.
Tries: Cohen, Greenwood 2.
Pen try: Back, Hill, Dallaglio.
Cons: Wilkinson, Dawson, Gomarsall (2), Stimpson (2).
Pens: Wilkinson (2).

SOUTH AFRICA: Greeff; Paulse (Russell 48), Fleck, James, Lombard; Pretorius (Jacobs 54), Conradie (Jordaan 10); Roux, Dalton (Van Biljon 54), Carstens; Labuschagne, Venter; Krige, Wannenburg, Niekerk.
Subs not used: Van der Linde, Wentzel, Uys.
Pen: Pretorius.
Sent off: Labuschagne (23).
Referee: Paddy O’Brien (NZ).

‘Test rugby is the absolute pinnacle. I
firmly believed in that old cliche of taking one game at a time and
picking a side to win that match.’ The contest against the Aussies was
another determined display by England. They ended up winning 32-31,
demonstrating that England could come from behind as well as hold on. A
10-point lead was turned into a 12-point deficit as Australia scored 22
unanswered points either side of half-time.

Dallaglio came on as a blood replacement for Richard Hill in that period, and recalls: ‘It was like a blur. We lost two tries and I left the field. As I was trotting off I heard a Gloucester voice in the crowd shout, “Hey, Dallaglio, we were winning before you came on”. I had to agree with him.

‘These wins, though, and further ones against southern hemisphere countries in 2003, were very important in building up confidence for the World Cup. We were better than them and they knew it.’

Last up, a week later, were South Africa. The 53-3 annihilation of the shambolic Springboks is remembered less for England’s seven tries than the cheap shots and calculated violence perpetrated by the tourists. Lock Jannes Labuschagne, who felled Wilkinson with a late shoulder charge, might not have been the only South African shown a red card.

Three Saturdays. Three unforgettable victories. History in the making.

Mauling: Neil Back celebrates a Will Greenwood try

Mauling: Neil Back celebrates a Will Greenwood try

Ten years on, an England side still early in the development stage are preparing for the mighty challenge provided by, in order, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

‘New Zealand look pretty much unbeatable,’ Woodward reckons. ‘But it is always a good time of the year to face the southern hemisphere countries. They are ending their season while we are beginning ours. And the Olympic Games demonstrated more than I had realised that home advantage is a huge factor in sport.’

Mastermind: Woodward back in 2002

Mastermind: Woodward back in 2002

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2012: Stats and facts

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: All you need to know about the race at the Yas Marina circuit

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UPDATED:

17:15 GMT, 1 November 2012

ABU DHABI TRACK GUIDE

Click here for your guide to Yas Marina

With the sun starting to set on this year's Formula One world title race, Sunday's grand prix in Abu Dhabi could not be more appropriate.

The event at the Yas Marina circuit is one of the most spectacular on the calendar, even if the track itself is hardly the most inspiring, given the race runs through twilight and ends in darkness.

After a run of four consecutive victories, and having won two of the three previous grands prix in Abu Dhabi, Sebastian Vettel will start favourite to make it five in a row and take another step towards his third consecutive title.

Ahead of the fourth running of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, here Sportsmail presents the key stats and figures.

All set: The Yas Marina Circuit is ready to stage its fourth Formula One grand prix

All set: The Yas Marina Circuit is ready to stage its fourth Formula One grand prix

Venue: Yas Marina

Circuit length: 5.554km/3.451miles

Laps: 55

Race distance: 305.361km/189.742

Lap Record: 1min 40.279secs (Sebastian Vettel 2009)

2011 pole position: Sebastian Vettel 1min 38.481secs

2011 winner: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)

Number of corners: 21 (12 left/9 right)

Tyre compounds to be used: medium/soft

Bumpiness: low

Overtaking chance: Into turns eight and 11

Engine severity: medium

Brake wear severity: medium/high

Average lap speed: 190kph (118.061mph)

Full throttle per lap: 82%

Gear changes per lap: 68 (race = 3740)

2011 winning strategy: 2 stops (laps 16, 40)

2011 total race pit stops: 40

2011 total 'normal' overtakes: 6

2011 total DRS overtakes: 50

Number of safety cars over last four years: 1

Silver lining: Lewis Hamilton celebrated victory in Abu Dhabi last year

Silver lining: Lewis Hamilton celebrated victory in Abu Dhabi last year

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Red Bull can clinch the constructors' crown on Sunday. In so doing they would become only the fourth team in F1 history to win three in a row – Ferrari (1975-77) and (1999-2004); McLaren (1988-91) and Williams (1992-94).

Vettel has won the last four races. If he makes it five straight he would be the first driver to do so since Michael Schumacher in 2004.

Red Bull have locked out the front row of the grid for the last three races. McLaren were the last team to make it four consecutive in 1998.

Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are the only two drivers to have been on the front row in the three races in Abu Dhabi to date – Vettel with two poles and a second; Hamilton with a pole and two seconds.

Vettel has now led grands prix for 204 consecutive laps. He is 101 laps behind Alberto Ascari's all-time record.

McLaren can set a new F1 record for most consecutive number of races in the points. Currently they are level with Ferrari at 55.

A Red Bull win will be the 35th in their history, seeing them join Renault and Brabham at fifth on the all-time list for constructors.

When the lights are turned on, Yas Marina becomes the largest lit permanent sports venue in the world.

Indian Grand Prix 2012: Buddh International Circuit stats and facts

Indian Grand Prix: All you need to know about the race at Buddh International Circuit

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UPDATED:

14:37 GMT, 24 October 2012

INDIAN GRAND PRIX TRACK

Click here for your guide to the track

Formula One makes its second appearance at the Buddh International Circuit which very quickly on its debut last year established itself with the drivers as a track to be savoured.

It has drawn comparisons with Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, which has long been hailed as F1's best circuit given its fast, free-flowing, undulating nature.

Sebastian Vettel triumphed a year ago and a repeat for the 24-year-old German would make it four victories in a row this season, which would see him take a firm grip on the championship battle.

Here, Sportsmail brings you all the vital stats and facts for F1's return to India.

Top gear: A general view of the Buddh International Circuit on the outskirts of New Delhi, India

Top gear: A general view of the Buddh International Circuit on the outskirts of New Delhi, India

Venue: Buddh International Circuit

Circuit length: 5.125km/3.324miles

Laps: 60

Race distance: 307.249km/190.161miles

Lap record: Sebastian Vettel 1min 27.249secs (2011)

2011 pole position: Sebastian Vettel 1min 24.178secs

2011 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

Number of corners: 16 (7 left/9 right)

Tyre compounds to be used: Hard/soft

Bumpiness: low

Overtaking chance: medium

Engine severity: medium/high

Brake wear severity: high

Average lap speed: 206kph (128.002mph)

Full throttle per lap: 64 per cent

Gear changes per lap: 58 (race = 3480)

2011 winning strategy: 2 stops (laps 19 & 47)

Total race pit stops: 46

Total 'normal' overtakes: 4

Total DRS overtakes: 14

Number of safety cars last year: 0

Number one: Sebastian Vettel will be hoping to repeat last year's victory in India this time round

Number one: Sebastian Vettel will be hoping to repeat last year's victory in India this time round

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Three successive wins for Sebastian Vettel means he now has 25 career victories to his name, propelling him to joint sixth on the all-time list alongside Jim Clark and Niki Lauda.

Vettel, however, has never won four races in a row in one F1 season. He did win the last two of 2010 and first two of 2011.

Felipe Massa's 30-point haul in Japan and Korea means he has scored more points in the last two races than he managed in his first 11 this year.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are both tied on 48 podium finishes apiece at present. Vettel has 43, whilst Fernando Alonso has 82, placing him third on the all-time list behind Michael Schumacher (155) and Alain Prost (106).

In setting the fastest lap in Korea, Mark Webber became the 11th different driver in 16 races this season to accomplish the feat.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone celebrates his 82nd birthday on Sunday.

Nine of the 10 corners between turns five and 14 are taken at between 200 and 250kph.

The 230m run from pole to the apex of turn one is the third shortest of the year after Monaco and Valencia.

The cars spend 8.2secs cornering in the double right-hander at turns 10 and 11

In constructing the circuit four million cubic tons of earth were moved to achieve the rise and fall through the lap.

Lance Armstrong makes first emotional speech after doping revelations

'It has been a difficult couple of weeks': Armstrong makes first emotional speech after doping revelations

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UPDATED:

07:52 GMT, 20 October 2012

Shamed cyclist Lance Armstrong has spoken publicly for the first time since the release of a report which detailed systematic performance-enhancing drug use by the seven-time Tour de France winner.

He said he has been through a 'difficult couple of weeks' and urged supporters of his cancer-fighting charity to stand behind its mission.

'The mission is bigger than me. It's bigger than any individual,' Armstrong said on Friday in his opening remarks at Livestrong's 15th anniversary celebration.

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Humbled: Armstong has revealed how difficult the last couple of weeks have been

Humbled: Armstong has revealed how difficult the last couple of weeks have been

Armstrong has been turned into an outcast in professional cycling and most of his personal sponsors dropped him this week after the US Anti-Doping Agency released their report and USADA has ordered him banned from cycling for life and stripped of his Tour de France victories.

Armstrong, who denies doping, didn't address the USADA report or the doping charges in his remarks. Instead, he focused on the mission of the foundation he started in 1997. Armstrong was diagnosed in 1996 with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain.

'I am … truly humbled by your support,' Armstrong said after receiving a standing ovation from the crowd of 1,700.

'It's been an interesting couple of weeks. It's been a difficult couple of weeks for me and my family, my friends and this foundation.'

Armstrong said he's been asked many times how he is doing.

'I say, I've been better, but I've also been worse,' said Armstrong, making his first public appearance since the USADA report was released last week.

On Monday, the International Cycling Union is expected to announce whether it will appeal USADA's sanctions.

Don't give up: Armstrong was joined by a host of stars, including Sean Penn

Don't give up: Armstrong was joined by a host of stars, including Sean Penn

Don't give up: Armstrong was joined by a host of stars, including Sean Penn

The celebration gala came two days after Armstrong stepped down as chairman of Livestrong to help shield the charity from the fallout of the controversy swirling around him. He remains on the board of directors.

Armstrong urged the crowd to continue fighting to help cancer patients and survivors.

'There's 28million people around the world living with this disease,' Armstrong said. 'Thank you for your support.'

Livestrong officials expected to raise 1.6 million from the event, which included appearances by actors Sean Penn and Robin Williams and singer Norah Jones.

Armstrong won the Tour de France every year from 1999-2005 and his success on the bike helped propel the foundation into one of the most popular and well-known charities in the country. Livestrong has raised about 312m in the fight against cancer.

In 2004, the foundation introduced the yellow 'Livestrong' bracelets, selling more than 80 million and creating a global symbol for cancer awareness and survival.

VIDEO: Armstrong speaks at Livestrong anniversary event…

Can West Brom repeat 1978-79 triumphs?

Can in-form West Brom match the impact of Albion's stylish 1978-79 team

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 17 October 2012

It was a time of dwindling crowds due to the spectre of hooliganism. And in industry, a period of deep recession.

Anyone would think that living in and around West Bromwich in 1978 would be something of a hardship. But there was one thing that lifted the gloom. Saturday afternoons at The Hawthorns where, for one season only, something special was happening.

Flamboyant manager Ron Atkinson was putting together one of the most attacking and entertaining sides the top flight has ever seen. What’s more, he thumbed his nose at convention, breaking down racial barriers to give three black players centre stage.

West Bromwich meets Philadelphia: Albion's 'Three Degrees' Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson and Cyrille Regis team up with the real Three Degrees

West Bromwich meets Philadelphia: Albion's 'Three Degrees' Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson and Cyrille Regis team up with the real Three Degrees

Steve Clarke’s current crop occupy sixth place in the Barclays Premier League. Four home victories is their best return in 93 years. But while the Scot’s side are functional, pretty and capable of testing champions Manchester City on Saturday, they do not capture the imagination as Atkinson’s outfit did.

Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown, who scored a staggering 218 goals from midfield, played in the West Brom team of the 1960s which reached four finals, but says that his biggest regret is that he never won the league title in 1978-79.

‘We should have won the league that season,’ he said, ‘and I mean no disrespect to Liverpool. It just came together for us. It really was for that one season. For a variety of reasons, that team broke up afterwards. But when we were together, something clicked.

‘We had everything. We scored goals for fun. We would get on to the coach together for away games knowing that someone was going to get a good hiding.

‘We went to Old Trafford and scored five. We had the power of Cyrille Regis, the artistry of Laurie Cunningham, the all-round brilliance of Bryan Robson, the best attacking left back in the country in Derek Statham.

Main man: Ron Atkinson had West Brom playing exciting, attractive football in the late seventies

Main man: Ron Atkinson had West Brom playing exciting, attractive football in the late seventies

West Brom then and now

‘Len Cantello in midfield was a woefully underrated footballer. Two centre halves who did what centre halves are supposed to. I owe Ally Brown so much because the runs he made enabled me to score my fair share.

‘It was wonderful, magical. And to top it all, we had Ron Atkinson managing us.

‘To be fair, the groundwork was done by Johnny Giles. He drilled into us the value of possession. When Ron came in, he wanted us to move the ball a bit quicker.

‘Those two values worked with that group and especially with Ron around. He was a brilliant motivator. We just worked on the basis that we would score more than the opposition.

‘He would say, “Go out and entertain me. You’ve got 30,000 outside and they want to be given a show. Go and do something special”.

‘Then he would walk around the dressing room. He would pull me to one side and say, “You are my No 1. You will do it today for me. You’re the one they’ll be talking about tonight”.

‘Of course, I felt 10 feet tall. Trouble was with Ron, he’d then go over to the other side of the room and say exactly the same thing to Laurie Cunningham!’

Cunningham, Brendon Batson and Regis were three superb footballers. They also happened to be black. It is difficult to imagine now, but their part in highlighting race issues should not be forgotten.

Robson said: ‘We went to the opening of Andy Gray’s nightclub and Cyrille, Brendon and Laurie were there. So were the American supergroup, The Three Degrees. It was too good a photo opportunity to miss. Albion’s black players posed with the girls and from that moment on, we had our own Three Degrees.

‘I’m convinced that stunt helped break down prejudice. At the

Real deal: Laurie Cunningham starred for West Brom before leaving for the Spanish capital Madrid

Real deal: Laurie Cunningham starred for West Brom before leaving for the Spanish capital Madrid

time, I remember away supporters leaving hundreds of banana skins at the Smethwick End. We have come a long way since then.’

West Brom had qualified for the UEFA Cup that season, earning a mouth-watering tie against Argentinan ace Mario Kempes’ Valencia in the Mestalla Stadium.

‘It was the match that earned Laurie Cunningham his move to Real Madrid,’ recalled Brown. ‘There was no-one to touch him at that time. He was graceful. He used to glide over the pitch. He absolutely tormented Valencia’s right back.

‘All of a sudden, we were sitting there in the second half when Laurie received the ball. Hundreds of oranges started raining down on to the pitch. Their crowd had got that fed up with Laurie, they were pelting him with fruit.

‘One of the lads pointed it out to him afterwards and he said with a wry smile, “I suppose it makes a change from bananas”.’

High flying: Shane Long has helped West Brom climb to sixth in the Premier League this season

High flying: Shane Long has helped West Brom climb to sixth in the Premier League this season

But for all the talent, all the goals and all the class of that group of players, it ended with West Brom finishing only third in the league.

‘It really was the coming together of different elements,’ added Brown. ‘I think we had several world-class players, but that fact has not been recognised. Take Robson, for instance. I saw him as a 15-year-old. A skinny waif, really. They prepared a special drink to build him up. It consisted of raw eggs, Guinness and sherry. Horrible!

‘But he turned out to be a world-class player. Laurie went to Real Madrid, Cyrille was one of the most powerful forwards in Europe at the time — a real handful. And then we had Ron who gave us the freedom to go and express ourselves.

‘You know, it’s a decent team this one. But whatever they go on to do — and I really hope they are successful — they cannot recreate what we had. For all sorts of reasons, it really was special.’

Enlarge

What happened to the class of 1978

England must avoid slip-up in Poland – Martin Samuel

Beware travel sickness! Hodgson must avoid slip-ups on the road – now that Wembley is no longer a fortress

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UPDATED:

22:12 GMT, 15 October 2012

Martin is British No 1

Martin Samuel has been named Britain’s top sports journalist. Chief sports writer Samuel, whose columns every Monday and Wednesday tackle sport’s biggest issues with power and ingenuity, came first in the Press Gazette’s top 50 sports journalists.

The awards list was compiled by polling some of the biggest names in British sports journalism. Sportsmail’s Des Kelly was recognised for his weekly column, as was Charles Sale for his work on Sports Agenda.

There was a time when a draw in Poland was a good result. That was the mistake Graham Taylor made all those years ago. His team played poorly in Katowice, sneaked a point, and he dismissed them in public as headless chickens. The players took umbrage, went to Norway and lost, and began an inexorable slide out of the 1994 World Cup.

In the aftermath it was widely agreed that Taylor made a hash of the trip to Poland. Criticise the players behind closed doors, yes, but accept that a 1-1 draw is still a decent result and be diplomatic beyond those confines.

Times have changed. On the surface, a draw in Warsaw is good news. Poland are a young, improving team, playing in front of a noisy, full house. Many teams would settle for a draw in Poland. Germany and Portugal did in friendly matches here last season; Argentina lost in June 2011.

Big night ahead: England manager Roy Hodgson (left) and striker Wayne Rooney (right) in training in Warsaw

Big night ahead: England manager Roy Hodgson (left) and striker Wayne Rooney (right) in training in Warsaw

Yet, for England manager Roy Hodgson, the problem is this: England can no longer be guaranteed to win at home. Away draws only have worth if accompanied by home victories in the corresponding fixture, and nobody talks of fortress Wembley any more.

In May 1993, it was anticipated that a point in Katowice would soon be accompanied by three more at Wembley in September and so it proved, with a 3-0 win.

Yet England have already dropped two points at home to Ukraine in this campaign and while the 3-2 reverse against Croatia in 2007 is the only qualifying defeat in 12 years, there are an increasing number of draws and a worrying air of uncertainty.

Few would bet with any confidence against further slip-ups in this group. England’s final two matches are at home to Montenegro — who closed ranks and drew 0-0 on their last visit to Wembley, in the time of Fabio Capello — and Poland, a year from now.

Banana skin: The Poland squad warm up at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Monday night

Banana skin: The Poland squad warm up at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Monday night

If six points are required to avoid a
play-off or, worse, the exit, these could prove very tense affairs,
given England’s variable home form.

At the National Stadium in Warsaw, Hodgson attempted to make sense of a match some see as the most critical of his 11 in charge. If the European Championship tournament was blessed with low expectation — giving it a slightly unreal air — Hodgson has now had enough time to be handed responsibility for any failure.

Lose in Poland and there will be few excuses, even if the international retirement of John Terry is a greater blow than his many detractors would have us believe.

Hodgson said that the idea of a ‘must-win’ match was a football cliche that left him cold. He has been around the block plenty of times and, after his unofficial meet and greet on the London Underground, was not about to let another slip of the tongue cause him more problems than the opposition ever could.

Hart at work: England goalkeeper Joe is put through his paces in the Polish capital

Hart at work: England goalkeeper Joe is put through his paces in the Polish capital

There is no result that could
eliminate England in Poland, Hodgson made clear. He knows how quickly
the balance of power changes in group football.

Ukraine drew 1-1 at Wembley and no
doubt felt that the advantage was with them; then they drew 0-0 last
Friday away in Moldova, where England won 5-0 last month. Back to
square one.

Yet Hodgson was equally aware what a fillip a victory in Warsaw would be. ‘It reduces the pressure enormously if you can get a result away from home,’ he said, ‘and those victories are not as difficult to achieve as they once were.

Road to Brazil: England have already dropped points at home to Ukraine and cannot afford to let more slip

Road to Brazil: England have already dropped points at home to Ukraine and cannot afford to let more slip

Roy Hodgson's perfect start

‘Games are more open, with teams
having to come at you and leaving themselves vulnerable. At Wembley,
teams hope they can catch us on the counter-attack if we open ourselves
up too much. Look at the number of away wins in the Premier League in
recent seasons as well. That did not used to happen, but football is
changing.

‘And I know the
statistics, we did draw against Montenegro, we did lose to Croatia and
draw with Ukraine, but I still think the record at Wembley is pretty
good. We can remain confident of playing at home.’

That is not always how Capello saw
it. He thought England suffered an inferiority complex, particularly at
Wembley and came to the conclusion very early in his tenure that he
preferred away games.

Hodgson has only played two
competitive matches in London, a joke fixture against San Marino, and
the more stringent examination presented by Ukraine, which England
failed. The manager is beginning to experience the fragility that can
strike English players at any time.

Capello’s team sailed towards South
Africa in 2010 as one of the strongest European contenders, only to be
affected by torpor once there. England battled their way out of a
difficult group in Ukraine this summer, only to freeze against Italy in
the quarter-finals.

And
what happened to the Sven Goran Eriksson team that beat Germany 5-1 in
Munich They were stumbling and on the plane home from the World Cup in
2002 long before Germany reached the final.

‘The one thing we know is that, in Warsaw, we will face a very highly motivated team with a very vocal and enthusiastic support, because we are a scalp,’ Hodgson said. ‘England have always been a scalp.

‘We watched games about San Marino and, in those matches, their performance was nothing like it was at Wembley. They gave a bit to the game, rather than just being ultra-defensive. Their respect was a flattering aspect, seeing them simply trying to keep the score down.

‘So we know that Poland will be
rubbing their hands with glee at this game, given that, if they win,
it’s such a feather in their cap. First, we have to make sure we’re not
the victims.’

To this end, Hodgson is leaning towards experience rather than the cavalier approach: Michael Carrick not Tom Cleverley, Jermain Defoe not Danny Welbeck.

Away wins may be easier to come by in international football these days, but Hodgson’s tendency to caution suggests he will attempt to snaffle one, rather than enter the refurbished National Stadium with guns blazing. That is his prerogative. What he cannot afford to do, however, is allow conservative leanings to result in a missed opportunity.

This is a Poland team without captain Jakub Blaszczykowski and ranked 54th in the world, marginally higher than the Bulgarians who England beat home and away en route to the 2012 European Championship. No England manager since Sir Alf Ramsey in 1973 has lost in Poland, either.

‘Historical moments don’t really interest me,’ said Hodgson. ‘I don’t dismiss history, knowledge of it gives you some perspective: but it doesn’t help you win a football match.’

He must hope he locates what does in Warsaw; otherwise the road could get rather dicey from here. Even that familiar road home.

Ryder Cup 2012: Ian Poulter won"t make predictions at Medinah

No more predictions, I guarantee it! Poulter keeping his cards close to his chest at Medinah

|

UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 25 September 2012

There will be no bold predictions this time. No staring into the camera and telling the millions watching that a point in the singles is guaranteed.

'I think you will find that was a one hit wonder,' said Ian Poulter, referring to his breathtaking moment of fate-tempting at Celtic Manor two years ago.

'Do that on a regular basis at the Ryder Cup and you're guaranteed to fall flat on your backside and have everyone laugh at you.'

The future's bright: But Poulter won't be making any predictions this year

The future's bright: But Poulter won't be making any predictions this year

The Ryder Cup is far too important to Poulter to have it threatened by ridicule.

The fact a man who played off a five handicap at 17 could end up winning tournaments on five different continents is one of the great sagas of modern golf.

But it pales for Poulter alongside the achievement of playing in four Ryder Cup teams, with the magnificent record to date of eight wins and three losses in 11 matches.

Sign here, please: Poulter is competing in his fourth Ryder Cup

Sign here, please: Poulter is competing in his fourth Ryder Cup

'Everyone knows I'm proud of my tour victories but to make four Ryder Cups is a bigger achievement for me,' he said.

'There's nothing in golf that gets close to the Ryder Cup. Imagine pumping your fist after holing a putt on the first hole of a strokeplay event Everyone would think you an idiot. The emotion you're feeling is such that every holed putt at the Ryder Cup is like one you hole on the back nine at a major.'

Back home in Florida, no visitor to his enormous new house is allowed to leave without seeing his Ryder Cup trophy cabinet.

'Everything's in there. I've got the crystal. I've got flags signed, golf bags signed, shoes signed, menus signed. What can I say It is a very important part of my life, and I want to share it with the people who come to my house.'

It might have been you on that day at Hillsborough – Des Kelly

Forget the badge… it might have been you on that tragic day at Hillsborough

By
Des Kelly

PUBLISHED:

21:57 GMT, 14 September 2012

|

UPDATED:

21:57 GMT, 14 September 2012

It has taken 23 years to blow apart the most cynical, sickeningly orchestrated cover-up by this country's Establishment since the Second World War.

It has taken 23 years to demonstrate once and for all that 96 people did not die behind metal fences at a football match because they behaved like animals, or wild thugs, or drunken hooligans.

It has taken 23 years to confirm Hillsborough was a grand conspiracy involving incompetent police chiefs, rank and file officers, sections of a compliant media, politicians, members of the Civil Service and, quite possibly, even a former Prime Minister.

Respect: Liverpool players and fans observe a minutes silence on the 23rd anniversary of Hillsborough

Respect: Liverpool players and fans observe a minutes silence on the 23rd anniversary of Hillsborough

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It has taken 23 years for the people of Liverpool to hear confirmation of what they saw with their own eyes. That 164 officers' statements were tampered with. That the dead, including children, were tested for alcohol. That criminal-record checks were carried out on the deceased in the hope of finding incriminating 'evidence' to support a series of calculated smears.

It has taken 23 years to hear the Government admit 41 of the 96 people killed that day could have been saved if the police and emergency services had not made a series of incredible blunders.

That loss of life was abominable, but then to try to disguise the causes, maliciously discredit the grieving families, trash a city, a people and an entire country of football supporters in the process is inhuman beyond belief. It makes you despair for the realities of democracy and governance in this land.

Remember amid all the apologies and official crocodile tears that 'The Truth' sat in a locked filing cabinet for 23 years, hidden from view. Remember, too, that none of this would have come to light, even now, were it not for the determination, righteous anger and resolute desire for justice from the families of victims and Hillsborough campaigners.

Now, we look back and wonder how it was ever allowed We marvel at how far the game has come. But in eight days there is an opportunity to take another step forward.

In eight days, there is a chance to salvage a sliver of humanity from the wreckage of that day when Liverpool face Manchester United at Anfield.

Next Sunday a global audience of half a billion people, from Sydney to Sao Paulo, from Seattle to Shanghai, will tune in for the most highly-charged club game of the season. Typically, the match also happens to be a TV sound engineer’s nightmare as the crowd exchanges their horrible insults.

A United contingent chant about the Hillsborough Disaster. A section of Liverpool supporters have their own vile ditty, mocking the Munich Air Crash.

It’s a depressing cycle of hatred and nothing more than a public celebration of death. One side justifies their evil chorus by pointing at the other, saying: 'they do it, so we do it back'. The same warped logic is in play with the bile aimed at Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez by the opposing camps.

But the English game has an opportunity to display some inherent decency here, it has a chance to make another tiny, but significant change.

Tragedy: The fate which befell the Liverpool fans could have easily been another English team

Tragedy: The fate which befell the Liverpool fans could have easily been another English team

Tragedy: The fate which befell the Liverpool fans could have easily been another English team

As Sir Matt Busby’s family, Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Alex Ferguson, Brendan Rodgers, Robbie Fowler, and countless other figures from Old Trafford and Anfield have said, 'it's time to stop the abuse'.

Many of the United fans forget it could easily have been supporters of their club at Hillsborough that day. Had United beaten Nottingham Forest in the quarter-final, they would have faced Liverpool in Sheffield. They might have been in the Leppings Lane stand. They might have arrived early with their children. They might have paid for their good timekeeping by watching the breath crushed out of them.

That’s how easy it is to empathise with others who have suffered loss. Look past the badge on the shirt. Imagine it could have been your family, your friends, your club colours there that day, then try to laugh at your 'harmless song'.

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For further musings click here: @DesKellyDM

In April, I was ashamed to be proved right on this page when I said Chelsea fans were preparing to boo the minute’s silence held in memory of the Hillsborough dead at the FA Cup semi-final.

Others bristled at recent comparisons between football's enduring hostility and the Olympic crowds. Apparently, football fans hurl abuse because they 'care more', as if that was ever an excuse. Are we to accept people chanting about Heysel, the Bradford fire, the Holocaust, or paedophilia, because they ‘care’

In eight days, football has a moment to recover its decent heart; to prove more has changed in 23 years than the introduction of seats, prawn sandwiches in the executive lounge and an absence of cages. It can show attitudes have changed, too.

Of course, nobody was ever killed by a vile word or a disgusting song. On a sunny day in Sheffield they were killed by bad policing and by metal fences. But it won’t kill anybody to show respect for the dead this weekend, either. Or in eight days. Or 23 years after that, too.

Let football do the talking: Rooney was the hero for United when the two teams met last February

Let football do the talking: Rooney was the hero for United when the two teams met last February

A new job for Tyson

Mike Tyson has conquered most things in a turbulent life, with the exception of the letter 'S'.

Now the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, convicted rapist, ear–biter, tattooist’s doodle pad and surprisingly misunderstood human being says he wants to 'sing and dance in musicals'.

Iron Mike certainly has a thespian streak. He played an amusing cameo role in the movie The Hangover. He has also tackled comedy sketches, such as a spoof of the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech on Jimmy Kimmel Live in the USA.

Tyson played the role of George W Bush’s vocal coach, reciting lines from Hamlet, rolling a Bush lookalike along the floor and performing voice exercises mocking his trademark lisp.

'Eloquenth!' he yells, before telling the bumbling former President he is 'the wortht thtudent in the hithtory of speeching!'

Tyson seems to have come through his destructive, sometimes despicable past, and now he can take a joke — or even be the joke.

The boxer might actually thrive on stage. If Frank Bruno can tread the boards then a pantomime season beckons at the very least. Imagine the fear on hearing Tyson is ‘behind you’ Just so long as his theatrical pretensions don’t extend to Mary Poppins, because A Spoonful of Sugar would be excruciating.

And as for Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious…

Singing and dancing: Tyson's career could be heading in a new direction

Singing and dancing: Tyson's career could be heading in a new direction

Sterling's no senior

Ever wondered why there are constant club versus country conflicts

Having fast-tracked 17-year-old Raheem Sterling into the Liverpool side, manager Brendan Rodgers urged caution on hearing the lad might be called up for the England Under 21 squad.

'I spoke to Trevor Brooking at the FA. In many ways it is right for him to go with the Under 19s,' he said. 'The reality is this is a kid who has made great strides over the last few weeks. Let's stay calm,' said the Anfield boss. Quite.

The FA and manager Roy Hodgson responded to Rodgers’ entirely sensible plea by leaving Sterling out of the Under 21s. And sticking him in the senior squad instead.

The Paralympics cash was money well spent

Apparently it’s bogus to mention that the four years of funding given
to the Team GB Paralympians is equivalent to Wayne Rooney’s salary over
the same period.

Frankly, I’m not massively animated by the scale of Rooney’s wages. He
can play the market for whatever it offers and be judged accordingly.

The point of the contrast was to highlight the Paralympic cheque wasn’t
such an outrageous amount when you consider the wider benefits of
funding the Games.

But one counter-argument offered up was that, unlike the Paralympians,
Rooney is taxed at 50 per cent — so the country is actually millions up
on the deal.

If anyone out there actually believes Rooney is paying the full 50 per
cent tax on his wages and doesn’t have a team of clever accountants
working on ways to reduce or limit his liability, then I’m the Governor
of the Bank of England.

Gold standard: The Paralympics were an enormous success - but Rooney is unlikely to have copped the bill

Gold standard: The Paralympics were an enormous success – but Rooney is unlikely to have copped the bill

Owen's biggest gamble

Never mind Stoke City, Michael Owen took the biggest gamble of his
career when he decided to appear on ITV’s All Star Mr and Mrs.

Only a brave man (brave, in this case, being a euphemism for dumb) would
slap his nuptials on the table for TV. And following cringeworthy
revelations that he had never made a cup of tea or coffee in his life,
or ironed a shirt, he was asked who looked better for their age: was it
him or his delightful wife, Louise

Owen promptly voted for himself, missing the easiest open goal he’s ever had.

Hair raising Rooney

IN a supremely dull autobiography, Wayne Rooney describes what it is
like to be on the end of one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s legendary 'hairdryer' tirades. He says: 'It feels like I’ve put my head in front
of a BaByliss Turbo Power 2200. It’s horrible.'

Does anyone else think Rooney has recently got himself a new hairdryer, for some reason