Bernie Sanders @ Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye

“Critics want to mention that they miss when hip hop was rappin’/Motherfucker, if you did, then Killer Mike’d be platinum”

CAN politicians win from the left? Bernie Sanders tried but isn’t the president of the United States and in the UK, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn isn’t prime minister – at least not yet.

Bernie Sanders at the Hay Festival (Peter Williams)

But rather than ask can candidates who shun the safety of the centrist play book win perhaps it’s time to ask what keeps them from winning – or how do they set about winning? Continue reading

Final thoughts: Champions League, Cardiff 2017

“I never said I didn’t like the Champions League.”

CARDIFF, Wales; August 2014: Fans of Real Madrid and Spanish rivals Sevilla bring the colour and noise of Spain’s La Liga to the Welsh capital.

Along with thousands of Spanish football fans, in the city for the revamped UEFA Super Cup, are media from across the world and Cardiff feels as if it is the centre of attention. Continue reading

Cardiff 2017: Champions League final despair

“Somebody said: ‘Football’s a matter of life and death to you. I said, ‘Listen it’s more important than that’.”

WORLD class sport has never really understood irony – which perhaps explains why people have never really known whether to take revered Liverpool manager Bill Shankly’s comments on football as a matter of life and death seriously.

Of course football, or any other game, isn’t more important than life or death and Shankly was talking, with regret, at how he’d prioritised his career, his passion, over his family when recalling a quip that had become folklore. Continue reading

Jeremy Corbyn @ Whitchurch Common, Cardiff

“Don’t tell me that you understand until you hear the man”

GROWING up in Cardiff in the 1990s I can remember newspaper columnists and correspondents to the letters pages often referring to Winston Churchill having addressed an election rally of around 50,000 people at Ninian Park in 1950.

Jeremy Corbyn poses for a selfie with a supporter. Photo John Morgan

The anecdote would usually be brought out as an example of how politics once captivated the public and campaigning was about more than stage-managed private photo opportunities and tightly controlled interviews. Continue reading

Record of the year: Europe, The Final Countdown

IF the year was 1986 then perhaps the synth rock of The Final Countdown by Europe, the Swedes with big hair, would be the record of the year. When trying to decide the record that captures what 2016 was all about it is those songs inspired by big European dreams that make the final countdown.

gareth_bale_wales

2016 has been a year of political shocks and upheavals and it also took one of the greatest artists of all time when Prince died in April. Other icons, from music, sport and politics, have all passed away throughout the past 12 months, seemingly abnormally so, leading to some to claim the past year has been one of the worst ever. Continue reading

The Bengals, Wembley and modern football

Washington Redskins 27 @ Cincinnati Bengals 27 (Wembley Stadium, London, England)

THE NFL played the 17th game in its London International Series on Sunday but it took the Cincinnati Bengals travelling the near 4,000 miles to the UK for me to make the 149 mile journey from Cardiff, Wales to Wembley Stadium.
nfl-amf

While regular season games are a genuine privilege for UK fans the event itself is a move from the strictly business play book of the NFL’s sharpest minds – the executives who measure success not in yards and points but dollars and cents. Continue reading

Gridiron, doping and sporting redemption

Jason Livingston went from the Olympics to a Welsh American Football team via Cardiff City

BRITISH American Football has agreed an anti-doping code – which might seem strange for a sport that off the field has more in common with Sunday league than it does the NFL’s Monday Night Football – but it brings back memories of the game’s connection to one of British sport’s most infamous doping cases.

Jason Livingston # 44

Jason Livingston # 44

In July 1992 the world’s best athletes had gathered in Barcelona for the Olympic Games but as the track and field events were due to begin promising British sprinter Jason Livingston was heading home in, as these things are always reported, “disgrace”. Continue reading