I Am An Egg Man…

So what if it’s an elitist, minority sport? I can’t get enough of rugby’s Six Nations

rugby players and a young boy
Original images: Sharon Garcia/Unsplash, Karen Arnold/Pixabay, Sportsfile

I AM, in the words of the great Stu Francis, so excited that I could crush a grape…

Because it all gets going tomorrow: my favourite sports event, the year 2020. Everything…

Rugby’s Six Nations Championship is back. Back, back, BACK, baby!

And I – for one – cannot wait to see what they will do next…

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Jaded By Jadon, Or Just Jealous? Why I’m Contracting Football Out Of My Life

I don’t have the energy to keep up with The Beautiful Game anymore – I’ve had to call professionals in to help…

A man with a football for a head

THIS AFTERNOON, I am planning to do something quite unusual – watch a football match on telly for 90 minutes.

Arsenal are in Sarf London for the Zaha-Pepe derby and I, for one, will be making time in my busy weekend schedule to take it all in – unless there’s another Gooner collapse.  

Football and me go back a long, long way, you see. I played as a true amateur – that is, ardently and with very little distinction or reward – until my fiftieth year.

As a kid, I supported everyone – QPR, Chelsea, Liverpool, Watford.

But when I became a man I put away childish things, committing myself to Arsenal and the fabulous polymath Arsene Wenger.

Now I’m a 50-something, however, a gulf has opened up between me and the game.

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Elise Christie: A Lot Of Love (And Likes) As She Struggles With Her Mental Health

The controversial British skater feels “a complete failure” and has temporarily hung up her blades – but at least her trolls have put the knives away, too.

Hung up ice skates

I’M NOT USUALLY BOTHERED about winter sports, but my heart melted just a little bit when I heard the news about Elise Christie this week.
Scotland’s troubled, multiple World and European Speed Skating champion wrote on Twitter that she was feeling a “complete failure”, and would be taking a break from competition until next year.
After failing dramatically to add an Olympic medal to her laurels in both 2014 and 2018, Christie has been remarkably open about her struggles with mental illness – including taking antidepressants and self-harming.
She told the BBC in April that she was feeling better and excited about the future – but now appears to have suffered a significant relapse.

Continue reading “Elise Christie: A Lot Of Love (And Likes) As She Struggles With Her Mental Health”

Building A Sporting Dynasty – Eventually

It took a long time to raise an athlete, but I got there in the end… 

A rugby team huddle

THERE’S A VIDEO from the weekend that I can’t stop looking at – because it shows the fulfilment of a 19-year dream.

It shows the moment my son became… a Player.

In the clip, his blue-shirted figure piles into a rugby ruck and bumps the opposition off the ball. Seconds later, his team-mates pick it up and drive over the line for a try.

There’s commentary on the clip, too. Very poor, shouted commentary, which is not impartial or informed in the slightest.

In it, I am roaring: ‘Up again (Name Withheld)! Up again!

“Yes, drive it! YES!!!!”

There follows a cry of almost orgasmic satisfaction from behind the camera.

I very much doubt that I have bellowed louder, or with greater joy – maybe not even at the very moment in late 2002 that his Mum and I created little Name Withheld.

Continue reading “Building A Sporting Dynasty – Eventually”

Sport Cold Turkey

I can’t seem to get by without sport or the structure it gives my life these days

Rugby and cricket images

AFTER A WEEKEND spent binge-watching sport, the extra 70-minute wait for the Ashes Test to start this morning is killing me.
I spent most of Saturday glued to elite sport on the TV: the Arsenal-Burnley match, Wales vs England in the rugby and, most of all, England vs Australia in the cricket.
But for four days now I’ve gone cold turkey, and I’m really struggling.
I woke up on Monday, after a family day out the day before, feeling not just hungover and Monday-ish but also somehow bereaved. Sports bereaved.
My liver was craving alcohol and my mind the freedom of the weekend. My whole body was yearning for sleep; but the saddest feeling at all was that there would be no meaningful action until Thursday. Three whole days of nothing.

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Mind – Just About – Over Matter

Elite athletes and depressives have a surprising amount in common – including worrying that they just can’t do it any more

A cartoon cyclist crashes
Image: depuys/pixabay

WHEN Jonny Brownlee won gold at the World Triathlon Championship event in Edmonton just over a week ago, he admitted he wasn’t really feeling like a world-beater.

The Olympic Silver and Bronze medallist had just won the 13th World Championship race of his glittering career.

But he told the BBC that – after injury and accidents had left him without an elite-level victory in almost two years – he’d feared he might never win again.

“I’ve doubted myself a lot.,” he said. “Athletes have very short-term memories and it doesn’t really matter what you’ve done in the past.

“The last 18 months, really, I’ve thought I’m never going to get on the podium again; never mind win one of these again.”

Hearing Brownlee talk about doubt – and only being able to remember success for a short period – made my ears prick up.

This is because I also doubt myself constantly, and tend to forget the many positive things I’ve done.

The difference between us is: I’m not a world-class athlete, but an ordinary man with depression.   

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Driven To Distraction

I love a Podcast and follow a ton of sport on iPad – but I mustn’t forget to live my own life

Billy Bonds consoles Bobby Moore after the 1975 FA Cup Final

NOW THAT I’M older, I’ve become a total homebody.

I write this blog at home, I do my house husband/housekeeper stuff at home, and there ain’t no-one with me for looong stretches of the day. *

I’m too lazy and introverted to make coffee dates with chums, so I turn a lot to los medios** for company.

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I’m In Giving Up Alcohol Hell

Me and the booze are having a trial separation – but breaking up is hard to do

Pouring beer down a sink

I’VE BEEN DRINKING too much since the weather started getting better. That is, since the weather started getting better in 2018.
I distinctly remember that last Easter coincided with a spell of happy, heavy tippling, and I never really stopped after that.
We went on our first-ever cruise last summer, and the size of my belly in our holiday snaps shows that I got my money’s worth when I signed up for unlimited drinks.
Then, in the autumn, my running stats on Strava were distinctly average thanks to the continued quaffing of sherbets.
Over the winter, I tried to emulate the Run Miles, Drink Wine slogan I saw once on a fellow jogger’s T-shirt, but when you are in your 50s it soon it becomes clear that you have to focus on one or the other
On the booze, you run slower and less far, and the meagre health benefits you derive from this reduced activity are quickly overshadowed by the deleterious effects of alcohol.
That is: you stay fat. You can’t run as far as you used to. You don’t feel as much like running, and then you start to hate yourself. Boo, hoo.
There was a time, however, that exercise and boozing used to dovetail perfectly. 

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Sort Of A Cricket Person Again

Cricket was my first love – but we’ve drifted apart since the kids were born. Can this year’s ‘once-in-a-lifetime summer’ bring the feeling back again?

A cricket bat, ball, hat and stumps

I WAS ELEVEN, breathlessly waiting for it all to start. 

England versus Australia. Summer 1977. Our living room sofa. I sat, cross legged and leaning slightly forward, with a cheap paper-backed scorebook open on my lap; orange squash and a biscuit by my side. 

Shaggy-haired Bob Willis charged in and bowled the first ball of the day – as I remember it, the first ball of the entire Test – to Rick McCosker. 

Continue reading “Sort Of A Cricket Person Again”