Posts Tagged ‘sport’


November 27, 2016

David Ginola recently had a heart operation, and seems to be recovering well after a quadruple heart bypass. I wish him all the best.

My memories of him as a footballer, was of someone of the calibre of George Best, who had incredible skills as a dribbler, and could weave through defences with balletic ease. I remember watching him playing towards the end of his career, easy to pick out on the pitch with his flowing locks, carving through the opposition. Yet, every time he got anywhere near the penalty area, where he could have laid the ball off for another player, or fired off a speculative shot, he would come crashing to the ground at the slightest hint of a contact, always looking for a penalty. What a waste of such meteoric talent, and what a pity for anyone watching the game.

In football, diving has become almost a recognised tactic – so much so I wonder if it is practised on the training ground – “Yes that’s it, brush past the defender and pretend to trip up, plant your face into the turf and roll around, look anguished, hands up in appeal to the referee, clutch your ankle in pain and pretend to hobble to your feet. Brilliant, now get out there on the pitch on Saturday and dive like you mean it”.

Yet in most other sports, generally, the highest standards of sportsmanship apply. A snooker player will always acknowledge the slightest touch of a ball, even if the referee didn’t spot it. Can you imagine a footballer stopping play themselves and acknowledging a hand ball, or querying the referee when a decision has gone in their favour? – this is from the climax of the World Championship final (Hendry vs White, 1995).

In rugby, there is hardly ever any faking of injuries – and the few cases that there have been have become infamous – the worst instance I can think of is the “Bloodgate” scandal where a Harlequins player bit on a fake blood capsule in order to be substituted, but there is also Yoann Huget’s simulation against Bath or Brian Habana’s dive against Farrell (for which Habana graciously made a public apology).

In rugby, these are rare exceptions, rather than the rule. The commentator saying that “this isn’t football”, is surely telling.

Board games have become commonplace online. I enjoy playing Scrabble. One way of playing, which is quite enjoyable, is to actually help your opponent. You can chat to the other player as they are making a word, and if you choose to, you can improve their score. On Yahoo! Scrabble, one person replied, “I felt like you were rooting for me!” However, this (in my opinion) makes for a more enjoyable game, and helps you improve your own play. I used to play chess like this against a friend. She was a better player than me, but we would look at the position together, analyse the moves and work out the best play. We called it “non-competitive chess”; at first glance, this may seem like an oxymoron.

Quite often, in Scrabble, you come across someone using software to generate the best words – for example, Word Breaker (Scrabble Cheat) – Android Apps on Google Play It can be difficult to tell a strong player from a cheat, but one tell-tale sign of a weak player cheating is a disregard for the tactics of the game, yet a brilliant ability to solve anagrams. Scrabble is a surprisingly subtle game – you can defend a lead by closing down the board and not giving your opponent an opportunity to score, or you can attack when chasing a lead, by playing expansively and taking risks in order to get that elusive triple word score. But what does that mean for the enjoyment of the game – what is the point of simply inputting an anagram given to you by a computer?

I also enjoy long-distance running at an amateur level and the camaraderie of the running community is, in my experience, always superb. In the latter stages of the Leicester marathon this year, a fellow runner offered me their energy gel. I refused actually, partly because it was my legs, which felt like lead, rather than a feeling of having no energy, but partly because he may well have needed a boost himself in the last few miles. Still, I felt this was a really kind gesture.

Sport needs to be played fairly and competitively, otherwise there is no point. You need to be matched against an equally strong or stronger opponent, in order to improve your own game, and the most thrilling encounters are when evenly-matched opponents play to the best of their abilities. For spectators too, if cheating occurs, then the whole integrity of the sport can be called into question – as has happened in professional cycling, such is the extent of doping at a professional level – this goes right back to the earliest days of the sport.

Cup of tea at 19 miles – My Race Results

April 30, 2013

1996 Great Scottish Run (1:54)
My first half marathon – I entered the day before, without having done any training, thinking it was a 10K race – really should have thought the word “Great” at the beginning would have meant a half, after the “Great North Run”.

1st December 2000 – 24 hour run for World Aids Day (a simultaneous event outdoors around Leicester University Campus and indoors in Canada) – the then British champion at this event, William Sichel from Sanday in Orkney ran 139 miles in 24 hours – incredible achievement. I managed to keep pace with him for around 20 miles, before getting blisters and retiring to the student bar! However, this race inspired me to enter the London Marathon the following year, thinking that if I can manage 20 miles, then a full marathon should be a doddle. How wrong I was, but I became infected with the running bug.

March 2001 Adidas Breakfast Run, Kingston-Upon-Thames (half marathon) 247th (1:42:43)
Preparation for the London Marathon.

London Marathon (April 2001) 10854th (4:10:36)
My first ever marathon. A flat course, with the only difficulty being the enormous number of competitors. A cool day – good conditions for running. However, I really struggled towards the end of the race and despite a great atmosphere, I did not enjoy the race as much as I might have done.

Nottingham Marathon (September 2001) 353rd (3:55:18, timed by chip in my shoe)
The route had to be changed because of foot and mouth, which meant that instead of going through the beautiful scenery of Wootton Park, we followed a main road instead. Very good support from people along the fairly hilly course.



Leicester Marathon, November 2001 107th (3:50:23)
Race notes: a hilly course and a cold, wet day made for tricky conditions. Good start to the race, from Mallory Park circuit. I ran the first seven miles quite slowly with Eve Taylor, who was running in her first half-marathon. Then I sped up in the middle section and hung on somehow at the end. The organisation was very good, but an isolated course meant that few people were out to cheer us on. I was delighted with my time.

10K, Victoria Park Races, Leicester, November 2001 42nd (38:34)
The course was over several tortuous laps of the park. Only gentle hills to contend with and good support.

Gaddesby Sunflower Half Marathon, June 2002 30th (1:38:42)
I went off pretty fast, and just managed to keep it going. It was a hot day, and the course was hilly. Good support and race organisation made for an enjoyable race. I celebrated with a pint afterwards; probably not a very good idea!

Potteries Marathon, Stoke-On-Trent (June 2002) (4:00)
Very hilly race on a hot day. Brilliant support throughout the race – a fantastic atmosphere. Excellent race organisation. I set off too fast, miling at 7:30 pace and so struggled in the middle of the race. However, I managed to recover a little by 19 miles, and made up some time. A very friendly event – sadly no longer part of the race calendar. The highlight was definitely the cup of tea (served in a proper cup) at 19 miles.

2002 Wycombe Half Marathon (July 14th) 413th (1:52:02) A fast course, but a very hot day. I was collecting for charity as I went around, so getting into a rhythm was difficult. I really enjoyed the race. It was very satisfying when people gave me their change. Good support in parts of the course. Excellent job done by the race organisers. I raised £48 for the NSPCC on the day. Thanks to Lee and Tracey for their support!

2002 Waterworks Valley 10K, Jersey (August) 41:10 A really tough course – I was quite pleased with my time.

Nottingham Marathon (September 2002) (4:00:02) – Killer section around the National Watersports Centre – where a looped track meant that you could see people who were 4 miles ahead of you! Good fun again this year.

June 2003 Gaddesby Half Marathon (1:42:24) 4 minutes slower than last year – but I had done less training.

Potteries Marathon (June 2003) (5:27)
Even hotter than last year, this time I elected to collect for charity along the course. Big thank you to the kind person in the card shop who let me change £20’s worth of loose change into a note to make my bucket lighter, and to Santa Claus, obviously in training for the North Pole marathon. His wife was going round in a car emptying his bucket and she kindly emptied mine too. As a result of the generosity of the people of Stoke, I raised nearly £100 on the day.

Wolverhampton Marathon (September 2003) (4:19)
A flattish course, and good conditions for running because of the 9:30 start. I went off too fast though, running the first half in 1:45 and paid for this after the 18 mile mark, when my legs felt like lead.

Feelfine British 10K 2004 – can’t find or remember my time for this!

Potters Half Marathon (Stoke On Trent, 2008) (2:25) 975th
Ran round collecting for the Socialist Party with papers and a collecting bucket. Very hot conditions and a tough course. Very enjoyable run, but hard work.

Coventry Half Marathon (2006) 2:14:37
Running with a collection bucket and papers for the Socialist Party.

John Fraser 10 mile (Countesthorpe) 2007? – can’t find results for this – remember running first 5 miles in a very fast 35 minutes and then paying badly for my earlier speed at the end – having to walk between 9 and 10 miles.

Leicester Marathon (2007) 4:39:46

Potters ‘Arf Marathon (2008) 2:25:29
Collecting as I went round for the Socialist Party – great support as ever in Stoke – but no cup of tea at nineteen miles (unlike the full marathon).

Coventry Half Marathon (2009) 2:12:10
Collecting for the Socialist Party.

Leicester Marathon (October 2010) 534th (5:06:19)
Collected for the Socialist Party, with papers and bucket. meant only to collect for first and last six miles of race, but my support couldn’t make it, so collected for all 26 miles.

Loughborough Corporate Games 10K 2011 Position 8th – Age 30-39M
Horrendous start to the race, when all the competitors were given the wrong directions to the event. Teeming down with rain, turning the course into more of a cross country race – making me wish I had dusted down my spikes! Difficult terrain, but I got round in just over 45 minutes, which I was quite pleased with.

Leicester Marathon (September 2012) 397th (4:29:15 Andrew Walton V40 M) Collected money as I went around and sold copies of the socialist newspaper – my best time for 26 miles with a collecting bucket! Great support as I went round the course, starting and finishing in Victoria Park, just a short stagger away from where I live.

Sheffield Half Marathon (2012) sheffield 1