So the All Blacks deserved it, didn’t they? Yes, yes and thrice yes. But after a brilliant World Cup, and…
Well, we’re all Welsh now. Love the country, been there loads of times, adore the Millennium Stadium, in fact I’m…
If the cap fits…
Roger Alton reviews the week in Sport
So the blink-and-you-miss-it summer break is over and football is back with an all-consuming vengeance. Despite the new season hardly having had time to clear its throat, it is already spewing headlines like a TV newsbar gone postal. And that is just in England.
If, as seems universally accepted, eggs is indeed eggs, then the only other certainty in an increasingly troubled world is that Alastair Cook will eviscerate every English batting record, apart possibly from the highest individual score.
Strange to be writing about sport when outside it feels like Salem, where vengeful witchfinders prowl the highways and byways of the media and political landscape looking for someone or something, anything, to burn; where screeching harpies of press and internet call for the closure of papers they don’t like; and where sanctimonious preachers declaim from their leader columns that the intolerant consensus of the left must rule.
Well, did you pick out 21-year-old Petra Kvitova for the women’s title at Wimbledon? Me neither, though it shouldn’t have been that hard.
What is it that defines the greatest sporting spectacles? Is it competition or coronation? It made you gasp as Frankel laid waste the field to win the 2000 Guineas by a mile, but watching Mickael Barzalona drive Pour Moi from last to first in the Derby and take Carlton House in the last stride of the race could make a strong man weep.
A friend who used to play international sport as a professional tells me he is enjoying his game infinitely more, and playing it better than ever, now he isn’t getting paid for it.
Fans of Robert Parker’s indispensable Spenser series of thrillers will be familiar with the character of Hawk.
Anyone concerned that their tear ducts might not be in working order should take a look at the 2009 Sports Personality of the Year show, when Severiano Ballesteros was given a lifetime achievement award.
There are few things in life more pleasing than giving one’s friends a good kicking, but I’m afraid sometimes only an ovation will do.
There are few better feelings than the sporting mood swing that takes place at this time of year.
There was an advert recently on Italian TV when four vast but genial blokes filled the screen extolling the virtues of an unspecified product, before the camera pulled back to reveal they were all Italian rugby forwards and squeezed shoulder to shoulder inside a minute Fiat.
First an apology: in common with commentators, pundits and blowhards across the land this column may well have given the impression that it viewed the cricket World Cup as a preposterously overblown farrago of money-making and greed, built around a tired format and symptomatic of the corrupt and decadent way most major sports are run.
Celebrations — not just an egregious though annoyingly addictive form of mini-confectionery, but the single hottest topic in sport.
The cricketer Chris Cowdrey tells a charming and self-deprecating story about his one match as captain of England. It was at Headingley in 1988 in the fourth Test against the all-conquering West Indies. They had won ten of their last 11 Tests, and had not lost a series since 1980. They wouldn’t lose a series until 1995: it was probably the most powerful and successful team in any sport. Ever.
The annual Ferrari junket to Madonna di Campiglio in the Italian Alps last week is, understandably, regarded by motor-racing journalists as the king of freebies.
It seems churlish to be having a bitch just when two enthralling Test series are being played out in Australia and South Africa.
It’s time for the traditional, much-coveted Spectator Sports Awards, and this year your judges have been busier than Mitchell Johnson’s tattooist as we look back over a memorable 12 months.
So here’s a thing: if Fifa is so bloody venal and corrupt, then why on earth did England ever have anything to do with it? If much of its activity is spent lumbering poor regions of the earth with a vast web of unaffordable stadiums and expensive infrastructure before disappearing with billions of untaxed income, then why has there been such a howl of outrage that England wasn’t allowed to join in? And if they’re all so ‘buyable’, to use Andy Anson’s word, why did we send a prince among men, not to mention Prince William and the Prime Minister, to grovel before it? England’s misconceived and (apart from the last three days, which were excellent) ill-executed bid for the 2018 World Cup has ended up in the bin where it should have been consigned long ago.
Quite how much tawdrier the plotting and deal-making for the 2018 football World Cup could become it is hard to imagine, and how appropriate that not just Sepp Blatter but officials at England’s campaign are so keen to denounce the devastating Sunday Times investigation into Fifa corruption.
Never an easy team to like, Chelsea. For all but the most devoted, in a match between Chelsea and the Iranian Secret Police it would be a tough one who to support: well, maybe not. Come on you Muhabarat. But something strange is going on in west London: Roman’s centurions are becoming admirable, even likeable. As much as anything, that’s down to one engaging guy, their manager, Carlo Ancelotti. After last weekend’s defeat at Anfield, he didn’t blame anybody, he didn’t moan about his players (hello, Arsène), he just gave fulsome praise to Fernando Torres and the Liverpool defence who stood up to a major second-half battering.