Aggers talks sense

I have been convinced for quite a while, that technology can sense a non-convert. It seems to know that I am capable of emailing, flicking through news websites and Google mapping, but aside from that, I’m neither too competent, nor too bothered. Recently, for reasons still unknown to myself I enrolled in a computer course to extend my (perfectly adequate if Neolithic knowledge) of Word, Excel and Powerpoint. As a result, (I’m still waiting for official conformation) I do believe my name will appear in the next publication of the Guinness Book of World Records under the depressingly accurate accolade of having been entrapped in a public library where all previous levels of boredom known to man were annihilated through the medium of databases. Minutes turned to hours as I began to recognise the early onset of Stockholm syndrome as I persuaded myself I was there for my own good.

I’m diverting off on a tangent of doom. What I wanted to point out is that I listen to a lot of sport on the radio because I don’t have Sky TV.

Most of the time, (depending on the commentator) I don’t feel like I miss out by not having pictures.  When watching sport, there are often distractions which catch the eye, particularly when crowds of people come together – pesky homemade banners at Stamford Bridge, scores of afro-wigged revellers at the Ryder Cup, middle aged men with coqs on their heads at the 6 Nations, Eddie Jordan’s shirts, David Coulthard’s chin….

The Test Match Special (TMS) team have an excellent reputation for being able to strike a popular balance between describing the on-field Cricket action amongst the bigger landscape of weather, spectators, coaches, and unexpected diversions. That is, between the infectious fits of giggles and eating cake! Jonanthan Agnew, Aggers, is one stalwart of the team who has sense. Earlier this week he transferred me to the sun-drenched banks of the University Oval in Dunedin for the first Test between New Zealand and England, but it was a newspaper article he wrote about sport ‘personalities’ last week that made me want to applaud. Thank-you very much Aggers, your talents know no boundaries; you took the words right out of my mouth.  Let me quote the great man commenting on the inflated media reaction of the response by Rafa Benitez in an interview after Chelsea fans gave him some grief from the stands,

“Part of the problem is that the public pronouncements made by many in the sporting world these days are mind-numbingly dull. There are expectations of course, but in the main, press conferences and television interviews are sanitised almost to the point of being worthless…..But it is the media’s fault. In the rush for quotes, and the absurd over-emphasis placed on the importance of what a sportsman or sportswoman has to say, we have created Mr and Mrs Bland.”

As someone who reads the paper from the back pages to the front, I am interested in the opinions of players, previews and reviews from commentators and insider knowledge. In spite of, or perhaps because of this, I feel like I could easily give a bog standard press conference for most of Britain’s major sporting events and fixtures in the calendar. Aside from injury updates, which aren’t always accurate or truthful, there isn’t much more to be gained from a scheduled presentation to the media. As a much more experienced, well-informed, connected and knowledgeable sports fan than me, Aggers is honest enough to voice an opinion that hasn’t come directly off the conveyor belt of stale, benign, exhausted, responses to questions on sport. Now that’s worth listening to.



Sporting Oscars

What do people who are not interested in sport do with their weekends? It’s a mystery. Having just four television channels, not the full fat, wall-to-wall, obesity inducing, pocket robbing Sky Sports package, three rugby matches, one Cup final and spring time horse racing were on show over two days as well as highlight programmes of football league action and the 6 Nations competition. Individually and collectively the performances produced more drama, excitement, heartache and release than many of the films nominated for a Hollywood Oscar did. Sportsmen and women often lament the highs and lows of winning medals or silverware, ranking one performance against another but the truth is, they would rather have the award than not. So stand up, show some leg and accept this weekends Sporting Oscars…..

Best performance – Cardiff City. This is not a sympathetic vote; the Championship side defied themselves and science by staying upright as many of the team suffered cramp and beyond exhausted exhaustion. The Bluebirds literally gave everything they had to force the tie into extra time so much so that Rudy Gestede nearly didn’t make it as far as the ball when he came forward to take a spot kick.

Best leading man – Sam Warburton. What is this man made off? Strong, determined, hard as nails but clever and alert with it.

Best storyline – Gerrard and Gerrard. Cousins and opponents on the day of the Carling Cup final, both miss penalties yet one is the hero lifting the cup high.

Best drama – England nearly scoring a try in the final minute of the game against Wales. It wasn’t a try though and Wales went on to celebrate a victory and the Triple Crown, the champagne tasting all the sweeter as they paraded around Twickenham and under England’s noses.

Best twist – Arsenal versus Tottenham. This script could not have been written. Arsenal off the back of a couple of losses but more worryingly a few hideous performances went two down and deservedly so. The switched was flicked and team suddenly caught up with the imagination of the writer as five goals, scored by four different players, hit the back of the net and at the same time the reality button for Tottenham and their supporters. Yea they are a good team but nothing can be taken for granted yet, they are not guaranteed third spot or Champions League football just yet.

Best reaction – Tom Court. The front row scored a try against Italy when the game was dead and buried as a contest but celebrated like he had just secured the World Cup for his country

Best name – Dodging Bullets. The unfortunately named horse didn’t win the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton, finishing behind Baby Mix ridden by a jockey whose name always invokes a smirk for less literal reason, Robert ‘Choc’ Thornton.

Best newcomer – Stuart Hogg .The 19 year old scored the opening try for Scotland on his home debut proving that his side were not actually physically repelled from the try line but were able to cross the whitewash and claim five point to out the wind up a stagnant French team.

Best oldcomer – Ryan Giggs. As far as the Welshman is concerned it has all been said before but then he keeps setting new records and breaking old ones. On his 900th appearance for Manchester United Giggs scored an injury time winner that ensures his team remain only two points shy of city rivals.