All Blacks Run Ends At Four

Congratulations to South Africa’s Blitzbokke on taking out Gold in the Sevens rugby at the Commonwealth Games. This was no mean feat as New Zealand their opponents in the final had won every single Sevens tournament at the Games going back to 1998 when they were introduced.

The good news for the game and no doubt for the Olympics, where Sevens will be a part in 2016 was that record crowds attended the event, with 171,000 coming through the turnstiles at Ibrox to watch the sport over two days.

Seabelo Senata was the star for South Africa scoring two tries in their 17-12 victory and his 10th and 11th of the tournament. This was an improvement on the bronze medal the South African’s won in Delhi and they made history becoming the first side to beat New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games; A fantastic run by the New Zealanders, who no doubt knew it had to end one day.

New Zealand had beaten Australia in the semi final after the Aussies had a miraculous win in the quarter finals against Wales, coming back from 19-0 down to score and win after the siren. Australia claimed the bronze medal beating Samoa 24-0.

The standard of rugby and the crowds flocking to the game are great news for the sport, although they were probably to be expected as after all Scotland is credited as being the birthplace of this form of the game!


July 28, 2014 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

A Fail For Ten

There are many around the world who will tell you the standard of journalism has dropped in recent years as news outlets look to get news out fast on the internet rather than check facts and research a story. Equally frustrating is the behaviour of some in the media by those in the media.

Those serious journalists who covered the Usain Bolt press conference at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow must have been shaking their heads and cringing at some of the questioning the Jamaican sprinter had to endure. Bolt furrowed his brow and shook his head as he was asked what his opinion was on the situation in Gaza, on the Scottish referendum and which team he supported at the recent FIFA World Cup and which game did he think was the best. He was even asked if he had ever worn a kilt.

Not surprisingly Bolt looked thoroughly annoyed by such questions and having to endure them. He was there as the fastest man on earth, as an athlete to talk about his participation in the Commonwealth Games, and no doubt expected those in the room to respect that fact and ask him questions about the Games and his event the 4 X 100 relay.

From an Australian perspective it was embarrassing to have a representative from Channel Ten – the host broadcaster – Roz Kelly admitted when permitted to ask a question, that she was not actually there to ask a question about Bolt’s upcoming event and then asked if she could have a selfie with the star athlete. The mere fact that Channel Ten actually aired such a question and then the act of Kelly and the egotistical Sam Mac pushing in on the photo was even more embarrassing. Yet Channel Ten instead of clipping all concerned around the ear, happily sent the photo out on Twitter. These supposed journalists are in Glasgow as representatives of Australia and Channel Ten and not there for a good time. They are there to work. The fact that Channel Ten actually thought this was entertaining is even scarier.

There is no doubting that Channel Ten’s Coverage is a massive improvement on Channel Nine’s efforts at the Olympic Games, but why if you have bought the rights to broadcast the Games do you not show them? Last night at around 9pm Western Australia lost coverage and it did not come back until after midnight, while the Grand Prix, Masterchef and some other show were aired. Not great programming and very annoying for those who wanted to watch the Games. You have lost this viewer who has now switched to the BBC online as many others have done judging by social media. Wonder what your sponsors make of that?


July 28, 2014 at 9:09 am 1 comment

Farcical Football

It has been a bad 24 hours for football in Western Australia.

First of all we had the Perth Glory walk out on a pre-season game against Sydney Olympic in Sydney. It appears the reason was because an under 16 game was being played on the pitch as a curtain-raiser, and the Glory were unable to warm up on the pitch. Which the club has since tried to justify through club CEO Jason Brewer who told the World Game “neither us nor Sydney Olympic were aware such a game was to be played. We expected a pitch on which our players could warm up. It was all about a lack of communication and having the correct environment in which to prepare the players. We have obligations in terms of player safety and welfare. We did not want to put anybody at risk in that respect.” Brewer said. “Mitch Nichols and Youssouf Hersi have had hamstring injuries and were both due to start and a lack of a proper warm up could have had major implications.”

Yet Sydney Olympic coach claims that they were prepared to move the Under 16 game, only to be told, he claims, that the players ‘were not in the best state of mind to play the game.”

Once again Perth Glory by not having a media manager travelling with the team have caused themselves untold harm. Instead they opt to simply put out a statement on their Facebook page of all places, saying they will not be discussing the issue further. The club’s buzz word at the moment is professionalism, but the whole handling of this  incident flies in the face of the word, even if the withdrawal was justified. Let us not forget the club pulled out of a friendly against NPL side Perth just a fortnight ago on the eve of the match, with various excuses being used, from insurance to lighting, when word is they did not have eleven fit players.

Then the very next morning it is announced that Western Australia’s two NPL sides, Stirling Lions and Bayswater City, who have the dubious honour of competing in the inaugural FFA Cup cannot play at Macedonia Park as had previously been announced, because the floodlights are not of a suitable standard for A-League clubs to play under.

The FFA Cup is a good idea, but this is yet more proof that the competition has been thrown together without due process and thought. As we have reported previously the FFA Cup was rushed through to meet an Asian Football Confederation deadline, because the FFA had failed to deliver the competition as originally promised when accepted into the Confederation by 2013.

We now have a competition which is slowly becoming more ridiculous with each announcement. First of all the draw is not a straight first out of the hat draw, it is rigged to ensure that one non-A-League club makes the semi final. So where is the real merit fro the club who makes it to that stage? Then all of the A-League sides not drawn to play each other, have to play away. Now the FFA get to dictate the pitches on which the games are to be played.

It would have made it interesting had the clubs had to play their NPL counterparts on their home grounds. As Perth Glory showed with their withdrawal against Sydney Olympic, conditions are not always ideal at these grounds and it would have been a great leveller. Now however that benefit has been snatched away from a number of NPL clubs. Which is not good for the game. Certainly playing games at the Perth Athletics Stadium is not good for the game. It is a horrible venue to watch football at even if its facilities are first class.

The main reason the games are having to be moved is all to do with the standard of floodlights. Which throws up the question why have the FFA opted to play FFA cup games on a Tuesday and Wednesday if this is to be such an important competition? Firstly most other state league clubs train on a tuesday so that may limit crowd attendances. Also if the competition was so important, would it not be better to play the game on a Saturday afternoon and then move an NPL match to midweek as these clubs are not so precious about the standard of lighting?

There was an issue raised at a meeting of all the potential NPL clubs over a year ago, where clubs were warned that if they did not receive financial benefits from being in the FFA cup, being in the competition could in fact cost the club money. That reality is now beginning to hit home. Not playing at their home venue will lose them bar takings as well as gate takings. The clubs will still have to supply staff at the grounds and there will no doubt be bonuses expected if they progress. Word is that the two clubs in Western Australia are being given some compensation for having to play at the Athletics stadium, let us hope both clubs have held out for a reasonable amount.

Not The Footy Show was told by a key figure at one club that after being advised that they could not play at their home ground they wanted to play away, and have the A-League club cover their costs, and have their players have the experience of playing in front of a bigger crowd at a bigger stadium, rather than be left with the costs.

The question is how can the FFA impose these restrictions? No NPL club has signed any terms and conditions to be a part of the NPL in Western Australia. Hence the reason the grounds are not up to the standards the FFA want. Neither have they signed any contract to be a part of the FFA Cup. Where did it state in the rules of competition on the FFA Cup website that grounds needed lights of a certain standard? Therefore surely clubs could have dug their heels in and said, play at our ground or we are entitled to a bye into the next round if our opponents do not want to play.

Over the years the Socceroos have played on some very poor standards of pitch. In Fiji they had to avoid frogs to play as the pitch was covered in them.

The FFA Cup is turning into a farce before it has even had a ball kicked. Yes there were bound to be teething problems, and it was always going to take a few years to strike a chord with the footballing public, but the way it is being controlled, manipulated and sanitised is just ridiculous.

Having supported a club that has been defeated by non-league opposition in the FA Cup and having visited non-league grounds where the capacity and facilities are not of a high standard, that is to understand what the romance of the FA Cup is about. This Farcical Football Australia Cup could not be further removed from that whole experience, and that is sad.

Equally sad is the fact that no club in Western Australia is deemed to have facilities adequate to host a FFA Cup game. Does that mean no more friendlies v Perth Glory based on the same criteria? What is does show is how far the clubs have fallen into decline. What is does show is that the game’s governing body has not been working with them bring them up to the standards now expected. What is does show is a failure to attract sponsorship to give clubs prize money worth winning. The Westfield FFA Cup could well have offered that windfall, but with no money once again filtering down to the NPL clubs one wonders who the situation will change.

It has certainly been a depressing 24 hours for football in Western Australia.

July 25, 2014 at 11:01 am 2 comments

A Game Glory Can’t Win

Once again it appears that Perth Glory are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

Football fans in Western Australia have bemoaned the fact that every year the East coast of the country sees big European clubs come out for pre season training camps and warm up games, while the West misses out. To be fair to Perth Glory, Dave Mitchell when coach used his contacts and managed to entice Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the same season, Perth Glory footing the bill for one of the teams to make the trip. Celtic’s visit was all tied in with the transfer of Nick Feely to Celtic. Feely having had a very short stint with the club’s youth team before being discarded as his university studies made it hard for him to make training in Cockburn on time. Yet when the Celtic deal came through Perth Glory held it up until it was agreed if Celtic came to Australia they would play Glory.

This time around the club has seized on an opportunity and once again are getting slammed for it. Adelaide United instigated Malaga CF’s trip to Australia, thanks to the contacts of their coach Josep Gombau. One reason Adelaide United announcements always precede the Glory’s. When putting the trip together the team had a choice of flying almost an extra six hours to the East coast of Australia and on to Adelaide or to come via Perth.

Once the Perth option arose the possibility of a game against Perth Glory came up and understandably the club jumped at the chance. The trouble was with the team arriving on Saturday evening and heading on to Adelaide 24 hours later there really was only a very small window of opportunity to play the match. Unfortunately the kick off time of 3pm is going to clash with the majority of the amateur and social kick off times.

The match was announced by Perth Glory on 04 July. Which one would have thought was plenty of time for Football West to work with the clubs and councils around the city to try and re-schedule kick off times so that Perth Glory can attract as big a crowd as possible. A letter sent out yesterday by Football West’s CEO – just five days before the game – appears to have put the onus back onto the clubs; “Our competitions department will work with clubs to reschedule games so that members can attend.” It stated.

In fact that was the penultimate paragraph, of a letter that was almost pleading for the local clubs to attend the game, as well as to promote it. Surely this is where Perth Glory and Football West should have a marketing budget and on occasions such as this share the costs? It should not be up to the clubs to promote such games. This is where a marketing campaign built around social media falls down, as you are simply preaching to the converted. The administrators at all of these clubs already have enough on their plates without having to do such things, and where is the incentive for them to help, what is the benefit to them and their club?

Perth Glory is getting criticised unfairly in some quarters for seizing an opportunity to bring a top side club to town. When in reality it is Football West who should have started working with the clubs and councils as soon as the game was announced to try and move fixtures so that more people could attend the match. In fact had the two bodies worked together, Perth Glory could have given each club president who moved their fixture a couple of free tickets to raffle or simply give to a deserving club member.

We are told that the two bodies are working together, Football West and Perth Glory, but this situation causes many to question that.

One thing is for sure, Perth Glory should not be criticised for grabbing the opportunity to bring a top flight European side to Perth.



July 23, 2014 at 10:31 am 2 comments

Ping Pong Ping

One event that slipped past us took place in London at the start of the year and that was the World Championship of Ping Pong, held at Alexandra Palace.  Sixty four of the World’s top Ping Pong players did battle for a two-day tournament, live on Sky Sports for prize money worth $100000. One thing that made this event special was the fact that the players used traditional sandpaper rackets.

One of the other key things at the World Championships was that T3 was unveiled. What is T3 you ask?

This is three-a-side ping pong played with a revolutionary circular table. The triples (3-a-side) version of ping pong, was invented in New Zealand in 1979; six players compete in two teams of three around a specially shaped table. Its unusual circular design and specially constructed nets are the foundations of a game which is fast and fun.

The idea behind Triples ping pong is that it offers players a far greater range of shot directions and lengths than the conventional game with increased scope for spectacular rallies. Apparently the table can even accommodate 12 players. The organisers say that three-a-side with one ball in play is one option, or six-a-side with two different coloured balls in play is another. We would like to see that!

The game was showcased in London at the weekend by six of Britain’s best players at Parliaments Hills in what is believed to have been the world first outdoor tournament.

The people behind T3 claim the game is going from strength to strength along with the revival of standard table tennis. This new version of the game is suitable for all ages, all abilities and T3 tables are also suitable for players in wheelchairs. The table is the same length as in standard ping pong, is foldable and portable since the legs are mounted on wheels.

Sadly the game is unlikely to see an additional “Ping” added to accommodate the third player, as trademark law is likely to prevent that.

In the early days rackets were often simply pieces of parchment stretched across a frame, and as a result of the sound generated when a shot was played the game earned its  first nicknames of “wiff-waff” and “ping-pong”.

The name “ping-pong” was widely used before a British manufacturer J. Jaques & Son Ltd trademarked it in 1901. The name “ping-pong” then came to be used only for the game played using the rather expensive Jaques’s equipment, other manufacturers forced to call it table tennis. Not surprisingly a similar situation arose in the United States, when Jaques sold the rights to “ping-pong” as well as the name to Parker Brothers. Parker Brothers then enforced their trademark for the name in the 1920s forcing the various associations change their names to “table tennis” instead of the more common term. This is probably why the new variant has had to be named T3.

July 23, 2014 at 9:59 am Leave a comment

The Wrong Road to the Top?

A recent casual conversation with an elite Australian athlete can only be classified as “Naive.” The question as I walked way was whether I was the one who was naive, or were they?

The issue that had me questioning was one of “vitamins.” The athlete in question explained how they were given a number of vitamins to be taken every day, to ensure that they stayed at peak levels of fitness. Now we are not saying that there is anything untoward in relation to the vitamins being given to the athlete, and others in the same program, but it did make one wonder what would happen if one athlete refused to take the vitamins. Would they be thrown off of the program?

There is no way that this assistance, to see an athlete reach peak performance, is going to ever be as bad as some of the programs established by the East Germans, but surely athletes should not be put in a position where there is pressure to take such vitamins. Who can forget East German shot putt champion Heidi Krieger, who was so masculinized by the drugs her coaches gave her that she later chose to become a man, undergoing a sex-change operation to become Andreas Krieger. However Kreiger was among thousands of young East German athletes who ended up scarred by an East German government plan to dominate Olympic sports through chemistry. In the investigation into the programs it was revealed that in most cases the athletes were told the pills and shots were vitamins and natural supplements.

This has a very familiar ring to it. Funding for various sports is as we have seen based on success or expected success, that success guarantees jobs.Suddenly the price of an athlete’s or a team’s success has far bigger ramifications.

What is being taken now may well be legal, but what may be the effects later?

In 2005 the New Scientist magazine revealed that professional footballers appeared to be at increased risk of a nerve disorder that causes paralysis and death. It is the same type of motor neurone disease that physicist Steven Hawking has, and is called ALS. A study of 7,000 Italian players showed the condition was five times more common than expected.

The study was carried out by Dr Adriano Chiò and colleagues at the University of Turin who looked back at the medical records of footballers who had played in Italy’s first or second division between 1970 and 2001. Normally the incidence of ALS, would be expected to be that one or fewer of the players had ALS. It was found that five had developed the condition. Apart from the higher incidence rate the players with ALS had developed it at a much earlier age than is typical for the disorder, at around 40 rather than 60 years of age.

At that time the researchers suggested “that the high risk might be linked to sports injuries, performance-enhancing drugs or exposure to environmental toxins such as fertilizers or herbicides used on football fields, as well as genetic factors.” The truth is the doctors do not know why this is the case, as Dr Brian Dickie of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, was quoted at the time as saying “We still don’t know what causes this link, or whether it would be reflected in other groups of footballers and sportspeople.There is some anecdotal evidence of a link between high levels of physical exercise and an increased risk of developing motor neurone disease. However, much more research needs to be carried out before we can draw definite conclusions.”

Some would say though that more caution should be taken by athletes before taking vitamins supplied by team doctors. One former Australian footballer who played in Italy, advised that vitamins were commonplace and brought around the night before a game. He advised that he would place them under his tongue and then spit them out once the doctor had left, as how could he be 100% sure what he was being given?

Today such tools as vitamins are called ergogenic aids and they are a legal way of enhancing performance.

A recent article by the BBC saw Spanish professional cyclist Fran Medina reveal the cocktail of multivitamins taken every morning. These consisted of “folic acid, iron, vitamin C – that helps absorb all the vitamins.” he was quoted as saying. He then said that he also takes B6 and B12 which he believed were good for “Oxidative stress.” This is a theory where the cells in the body are believed to experience molecular damage caused by reactive forms of oxygen, called free radicals; all very scientific!

After two hours of training the same article revealed that Fran then takes L-arginine which is also for oxidative stress. Other supplements on the market that do the same thing are apparently Bovine Colostrum, caffeine, sodium bicarbonate and nicotine. This last one is apparently under surveillance at the moment by the World Anti Doping Agency.

The same article from the BBC quoted Dr Mikel Zabala from the Sports Science Faculty at Granada University in Spain as saying that “while nicotine and caffeine help an athlete to be more alert, other substances are used to build muscle strength.”

The article went on to explain all manner of other supplements that are currently legal for athletes to use, but no one can confirm if there are long term effects to absorbing more than is natural. For example Creatine, plays an important role in the production of energy in the body, but how much is too much? Beetroot juice, helps increase the levels of nitric oxide in the body and could help a swimmer reduce the number of breaths they need in a short distance race. Are there long term side affects to this?

Another new and legal addition to an athlete’s preparation are Oxygen tents. Here athletes can sit inside the tent and simulate an environment of over 13,000 feet. Olympic Gold medallist in the 10,000m and 5000m at the London Olympic Games is believed to have slept in one such tent up until the last day before his race . This is called Hypoxic training -essential in endurance sports – and there is a big push by some nations to see it banned as it is classed as performance enhancing; in Italy it is already banned. Mind you it is not cheap, the cost is estimated to be USD5000. However when you weigh it up against the marketability of international sporting success it is a small price to pay.

Just because something is not illegal does not mean that it is fair, or in fact good for you.

The fact is none of this is new. From 776 BC athletes routinely boosted performance with hallucinogenic mushrooms, plants and mixtures of wine and herbs, and the winner of the 1904 Olympic marathon, 110 years ago, Tommy Hicks was given a cocktail of a one-milligram grain of strychnine and some brandy. The effect was it gave him a temporary boost until another was administered. He won the gold but it damn near killed him when he finished.

I guess people will do whatever it takes to strive for athletic glory, but hopefully some athletes will ask more questions today than they did in days gone by. Certainly no athlete should be forced to take something they do not wish to take, or have their place on an elite program or on a team put in jeopardy by refusing to do so.

As for who is naive? Still trying to work that one out…


July 22, 2014 at 9:27 am 1 comment

Sun Goes Down Over Orient, But the Cloud has a Silver Lining.

It was the great Dutch football coach and the man who is credited with inventing “Total Football,”Rinus Michels who said  “Football is business and business is business.”

Some would say that one businessman in the sporting world who knows how to manage both world is sports entrepreneur Barry Hearn.

Hearn’s involvement in the sporting world started with snooker. Some would say it was good timing when he bought a snooker hall in Romford in Essex just as the sport started to gain television coverage, others would say it was foresight. He became the manager of six times World Champions Steve Davis and several other top players through his company Matchroom Sport.

Hearn then moved into the world of boxing, the first fight he promoted was Frank Bruno v Joe Bugner at White Hart Lane, and he went on to promote big names in British boxing such Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Lennox Lewis and Naseem Hamed. He was the creator of the Prizefighter events and was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame earlier this year.

It was Hearn who brought darts to our television screens in such a big way and has given the sport a new life. There is no doubting he is a very shrewd businessman who knows how to promote a sport.

In 1995 Hearn stepped in as Chairman of Leyton Orient football club at a time when it was facing extinction. There were highs during his time at the helm under coach Martin Ling, but also lows with the club having its longest run in the bottom division (the fourth tier) of the Football League. However the club is now financially stable.

Just over a week ago Hearn won a settlement from the Premier League over the use of the Olympic Stadium and them promptly sold the club to Italian billionaire Francesco Becchetti. Some fans will be sad to see the club in foreign hands and also to see Hearn go, as he obviously cared about the club, but by all accounts the compensation he gained the club has been classified as “substantial.”

After a drawn out battle West Ham have tenancy of the Olympic Stadium with a 99 year lease at a cost of UKL2million a year. However the door has been left open for Leyton Orient to play “Showcase” games at the venue.

“It should have been designed as a ground-sharing football stadium from the off,” Hearn is quoted as saying. “That mistake has cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions. I never had a problem with West Ham. It was with the government who made a terrible decision in not taking advantage of what Olympic legacy really means.”

A comment that Western Australians would do well to remember as their new state-of-the-art multi-purpose stadium was unveiled last week. Let us hope our government has indeed got it right.

Barry Hearn is a very good businessman, and as he leaves Leyton Orient in a better state than he found it, he has also no doubt done his own business the world of good. There are many who dabble in football who leave unable to say that.

There was a great comment made by the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger a few years ago when referring to agents “The difference between you and me is that, if tomorrow there was no more money in football, I’d still be here, but not you.” The same could easily be said of some club’s owners.

July 21, 2014 at 10:15 am Leave a comment

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