Roger Alton

Roger Alton

Roger Alton is a former editor of the Observer and the Independent. He writes the Spectator Sport column.

Harry Kane is many things – but he’s not a leader

What’s not to love about David de Gea? Manchester United’s goalkeeper might appear to have it all: a humongous salary, a lovely family, a sensationally beautiful wife, Edurne Garcia, who is a star in her own right in Spain, and a pleasing ability to behave like a complete berk. He is a mix of utter

Football’s growing shame

It would take a brave man to pick a fight with Roy Keane, and nobody could quarrel with his view of Liverpool’s Scotland fullback Andy Robertson after a skirmish at Anfield. Robertson appeared to be feebly elbowed in the face as he approached linesman Constantine Hatzidakis at half time. The Scotland captain reacted in the

In praise of Sharron Davies

It’s been quite a while since we celebrated any of Sharron Davies’s considerable achievements in the pool – well, a bronze and a silver in 1990 at Auckland was the last time – but I would bet a box full of brand-new Speedos to a secondhand pair of goggles that nothing has made her prouder

What’s going wrong with English rugby

Rejoice, as you don’t normally say after a hammering like the peerless French dished out to England at Twickenham. But looking on the bright side, at last English rugby knows its place, and it’s not pretty. The consensus in the hospitality lounges appeared to be that it was all Eddie Jones’s fault, though that feels

A Test match for the ages

Readers of a certain vintage might be familiar with the work of J.A. (Charles) Cuddon, a teacher at Emanuel School in London and author of the Macmillan Dictionary of Sport and Games, which ran to some two million words of mostly exquisite prose. This is how he started his entry on cricket: ‘Cricket is a

England rugby must try harder

The first two rounds of the Six Nations have exploded across the sporting landscape insuperlative – draining displays of skill and power. But still the England Rugby Union team is as baffling as Fermat’s Last Theorem. Why is it that a nation with resources other countries can only dream of performs so fitfully? How come

Why England vs Scotland is always one to watch

If you think the Calcutta Cup is just any old rugby match between England and Scotland, then the latest in BT Sport’s fine series of documentaries should put you straight. It’s called The Grudge and is about the 1990 Calcutta Cup, the climax to the Five Nations with everything at stake for the first and

Is Eddie Jones’s fate written in the stars?

Something is happening here, and you do know what it is, don’t you Mr Jones? Stargazers – and even some more grounded folk – reckon it’s written in the heavens: that the team Eddie Jones was supposed to have been coaching will meet the team he will be coaching in the rugby world cup final

Let’s scrap the January transfer window

Norwich City are a likeable club, and currently run by a pleasant-seeming bloke called Allan Russell. He used to be the club’s ‘setpiece coach’, whose claim to fame was that he was working with the England squad in 2018 when they scored against the mighty Panama. Good for him, of course, but has football become

Wesley Hall represents everything that cricket should be

Few sights in the history of cricket have been more thrilling – or more terrifying for batsmen – than the great West Indian fast bowler Wes Hall coming in off his 30-yard run. He is now Sir Wesley, and frail at 85, but still as forthright and impressive as ever. I was privileged to be

Eddie Jones must go

So should he stay or should he go? That’s Eddie ‘I don’t really care what other people think’ Jones, currently ruling the roost over England rugby at Twickenham. Though for how long is another matter. Clearly the language around Jones is changing: the announcement of a review of England’s dismal recent performances very clearly avoided

Rugby’s new golden age

This column may have been somewhat negative about the future of rugby recently – so how cheering to report a spate of magnificent matches, across both codes and both genders, that provided not only brilliant entertainment but also, as young people like to say these days, ‘learnings’. The best game of all was the women’s

The future of sport is in the Middle East

When the burly honchos of the Rugby League World Cup gushed about taking the game to new heights, no one was actually thinking about the Golan Heights – but that’s where we are. What sounds like a fascinating quarter–final takes place on Friday (as I write) when the dominant team in global rugby league, Australia,

Rugby union needs its own Richard Thompson

Dear oh dear, as exasperated kings are known to murmur – just look at the state of rugby union. But if our monarch had to pass judgment on the catastrophe enveloping the game in England, you imagine his language would be stronger than that. Mind you, a decent king is just what rugby needs: heads

English rugby is in crisis

Make no mistake: the game of rugby, which many of us love so much, is in serious trouble: it will have to change or die. The game’s scarily existential issue on the field – especially the brain health of those who play it – is one thing. But what is going on inside the heads

Will Erling Haaland score 50 goals this season?

Don’t bother watching those gazillion-dollar TV prequels to The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. Who needs gratuitous nudity, multiple dragons and surprise beheadings when the real Nordic legend is bang in front of us, his mighty frame squeezed into the light blue of Manchester City and devouring the grass of the Etihad?

Drama at Lord’s: Stumped is a treat for cricket fans

So farewell to cricket’s The Hundred tournament, or what seemed by the end to be beefy South Africans in ‘Butterkist’ shirts belting sixes over cow corner off some fairly inoffensive county seamers. Does anyone remember a single result? Or really have any loyalty? Fine, have it as a marketing exercise to raise a few quid

I fancy Emma Raducanu’s chances at Flushing Meadows

British tennis fans famously only acknowledge the sport exists for a couple of weeks in the middle of summer in SW19. But they ought to think about changing the habit of a lifetime over the next couple of weeks, as Emma Raducanu prepares to defend her US Open title at Flushing Meadows. It’s been a

What Richard Thompson can do for English cricket

Well alleluia, English cricket doesn’t seem able to put a foot wrong these days. After hitting three cherries with Rob Key, Brendon McCullum and Ben ‘Bazball’ Stokes, they may well have struck the jackpot with the appointment of Richard Thompson, the Surrey chairman, to take over as head of the English Cricket Board, something this