Roger Alton

Roger Alton

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

I’ve seen the future of motor racing, and it’s quiet

Are petrolheads’ days numbered? I only ask because having just been introduced to the quiet, petrol-less world of Formula E, I’m rather taken by it. Apart from anything else, part of the fun of spectating is making your feelings heard, which isn’t easy against the 130 decibels generated by F1 engines. The Formula E world

How Kyrgios saved Wimbledon

What separates this year’s ‘empty seats on centre court’ scandal from every other year’s ‘empty seats on centre court’ scandal? Wimbledon has always been a garden party with some tennis thrown in, attended by the least sports-driven crowd in existence – the matrons of Guildford and Godalming who manage to love Rafa and Andy for

Is any sporting event more brutal than the Tour de France?

That great Frenchman the Marquis de Sade would have been justly proud of the Tour de France had he lived to see the day. Should we deduce that sado-masochism is a French trait? No question. Has there ever been a more brutal event in world sport? This year’s race kicks off in Denmark (yes, really)

The brilliance of Ben Stokes

Test cricket, bloody hell! For years, it’s been getting the last rites – now it’s the most exciting way anyone can spend five days. The scale of England’s synapse-stunning victory over New Zealand at Trent Bridge is boggling enough: England’s fifth-highest run chase (299) and fastest ever; the highest number of boundaries scored in a

Rob Burrow is in a league of his own

What a privilege the other night to see Rob Burrow, the Rugby League legend, win Autobiography of the Year at the Sports Book Awards at the Oval. Burrow is one of the most successful players in the history of League, although only 5ft 5in and less than 11 stone in a sport populated by big

My one to watch at the French Open

The timing of Brendon McCullum’s appointment as England’s Test match coach couldn’t be better for him, or for the matey but very canny Rob Key, cricket’s managing director. Had they taken over their jobs when England were at or near the top of the world rankings, things would have been a lot tougher. Getting to

The rise and rise of women’s sport

You might have missed this but something very big is happening in women’s sport. The sheer numbers watching are sensational: the crowds might have been papered, but who cares? At Madison Square Garden, 19,000 watched Katie Taylor of Ireland just have the edge on Amanda Serrano in a brutal ten-round title fight. At the same

What English cricket needs now

You couldn’t ask for a more amiable man than Rob Key to run English cricket: affable, shrewd and universally liked, he has the look of a recalcitrant monk, nipping out the back for a quick drink and a fag. Whether he’s any good is another matter, but let’s hope so for all our sakes. The

Pep and Klopp, kings of England

It’s a game for the ages all right, City against Liverpool on Sunday as the Premier League moves to its most exciting climax in years: two magnificent managers, two awe-inspiring collections of players. Both teams are so far in front that the rest are nowhere. There’s more to come as they face each other the

Where Eddie Jones is going wrong

Rugby Union, bloody hell. We’ve got to talk about Eddie, but before that, what about something much cheerier? Just when it seemed the game was for the big bruisers of northern Europe and the southern hemisphere, Italy show us that it ain’t necessarily so. It seemed impossible that anyone could upstage France’s victory parade on

Let’s scrap the Six Nations

If you were one of the sharp-suited head honchos at CVC Capital Partners, the private equity megalith that has ploughed £365 million into the Six Nations, you might be wondering whether you had got your money’s worth. Sure, all the games are sellouts, from the Twickenham all-day piss-up to the gathering of the clans at

Is football hooliganism on its way back?

Forty-odd years ago a friend, a Liverpool supporter, somewhat unwisely took his girlfriend to Elland Road for a Leeds match against Liverpool. Amid some uproar over the referee, she was hit just above the eye by a sharpened coin chucked by a Leeds fan. The relationship didn’t last, unsurprisingly, but she still has the scar

Mason Greenwood and football’s obsession with prodigies

Well, there’s a surprise: Nike have cancelled their sponsorship of the Manchester United and England footballer Mason Greenwood, who is engulfed by a series of very unpleasant allegations involving an 18-year-old girl. There’s a lot that can’t be discussed about this distressing saga but one aspect that’s worth looking at is the fact that Greenwood,

Why everyone should be shouting about Dave ‘Rocket’ Ryding

As we digest another Ashes thrashing for England’s cricketers in Australia, and wonder whether the 1966 World Cup victory will forever be the solitary success for one of Britain’s national football teams, the triumphs of individual Brits continue to astound. In the past year GB punched well above its weight in finishing fourth in the

The BBC is killing cricket

Full homage to the nail-biting cricketing miracle in Sydney, while bearing in mind that miracles, like lightning, rarely strike twice and it’s a toss-up whether England’s Test team or Novak Djokovic was more deserving of deportation from Australia earlier this week. But only Test cricket could conjure up such a climax after five days of

The year sport and politics became inseparable

Sport and politics have always been intertwined, but this was the year they became joined at the hip. Yorkshire racism; the growing protests about China’s sportwashing at the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022; anger about the Saudi takeover of Newcastle United; and the long-simmering anxiety about the Qatar World Cup. And with it, growing and

Has Formula 1 ever been this exciting?

The good citizens of Stevenage would be well advised to prepare extensively for the likely open-top bus parade of their most famous citizen should Lewis Hamilton clinch his position as the best -Formula 1 driver in the world (ever) this weekend in Abu Dhabi. Because it could take some time. The Hertfordshire new town is

Poor Ole wasn’t cut out for Man U

Manchester United have ended up with a temporary coach before they look for an interim manager. Haven’t we heard that before? Oh yes, a few years ago, shortly before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given the job. It sounds like United haven’t got a clue what they are doing. Which is a bit rum for a

Yorkshire cricket: the long view

The new chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club played a blinder in his first innings, consistently hitting the boundary and finding a settlement to defuse the troubling allegations made by the county’s former player Azeem Rafiq. It’s a pity he wasn’t moved up the order earlier, as Yorkshire’s performance in the storm over allegations of

Why the Reds have got the blues

Not so much the hair dryer: more a gentle home perm. Contemplating the increasingly less youthful visage of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he looked on powerlessly while his very expensive Manchester United side were dismembered by Liverpool, you couldn’t help wonder what Sir Alex Ferguson, glowering and irascible in the stands above, would have done