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

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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

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.

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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.
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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

Team GB, petty nationalism and sporting reality

DID Wales “block” Team GB from competing in women’s football at the Rio Olympics as the leader of the Welsh Conservatives claims?

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Jess Fishlock, of Wales, controls the ball during a 0-0 draw in a friendly international with the Republic of Ireland

After all “Great Britain had qualified” according to the BBC commentator as Germany kicked off the final that would see them claim the gold medal by beating Sweden two goals to one. Continue reading

Tragedy and triumph: The Cardiff World Half Marathon Championships

WHAT is the best way to watch a sporting event? Live as a spectator or from the comfort of your sofa via the television coverage?

Geoffrey Kamworor leading the Cardiff World Half Marathon

Geoffrey Kamworor leading the Cardiff World Half Marathon

To see a road race unfold across 13.1 miles the TV is really the only option but when a world championship race is passing the end of your street you would feel as if you’re missing out sat in your living room. There is also so much more, from tragedy to triumph, to the World Half Marathon Championships than can be told by podium finishes. Continue reading