Archive for the ‘sport’ Category

Down Memory Lane

In a few minutes the last ever match at White Hart Lane, home of Spurs for 118 years, will kick off. Although the new stadium will to some degree encompass the one we grew up with, it is nonetheless the end of an era.

Tottenham_Hotspur 19_April_2017

I first went to Spurs with my step-dad Maurice (who was a season ticket holder) when I was about ten. It was the era of Pat Jennings and Glenn Hoddle, then Ossie Ardiles and Ricardo Villa. We would sit next to a fat man with an unlit cigar and a highlight was always a cup of hot Ribena. An annoyance was Mo’s habit of leaving just before the end to avoid traffic – goals were always scored.

I got my grandfather Nat to take me once to see Tottenham V Leipzig in the EUFA Cup. He was not a regular at First Division  football, preferring the sidelines of Wingate alongside other emigres in camelhair coats with fat cigars. But this was special. Leipzig was his place of birth (and my dad’s) and he still felt an allegiance despite the impact of the Holocaust on his family. He landed in Croydon in May 1938 one step ahead of the Grim Reaper. My dad was an Arsenal supporter who followed his favourite goalie to Man U who Spurs are playing in 14 minutes in this last match there.

On the other side of my family, my other grandfather’s brother, Henry, had a beautiful death starting at the Lane. He went to a match for the afternoon with his son. Headed for home after a victory, did a bit of gardening (his profession), sat down in his armchair, and fell asleep forever. Way to go…

I did a bit of work once at Tottenham Hotspur Learning Centre beside the ground. It was in my early days at Channel 4. The digital project for Culture Online involved the telling of the story of Walter Tull, Britain’s first black outfield professional footballer and first Black army officer to lead troops into battle (during WW1).

It was around that time that I got to go on the pitch and touch the sacred grass, as well as seeing the dressing rooms. It was on a tour related to the Learning Centre work.

Quite often I have enjoyed the cafe lunch before the game as much as the match. When I go with my step-dad the banter is lively as he brings a touch of the old East End to the proceedings. On occasion I have met fans from Northern Ireland who fly over for every home match – how much does that cost a season?!

The last time I went was with Enfant Terrible No. 1, using my younger brother’s season tickets. I always love walking across Brucecastle Park from the car to the Lane. On that last time we walked back along the edge of the park past some beautiful old ecclesiastical buildings bathed in the late afternoon sunlight, a reminder that there’s more to the Lane than Arsenal toilet paper and mindless tribalism.

My other local team (in an allied sport) yesterday won the European Cup – Saracens in rugby union. I have been working in recent months at their new stadium quite a lot, including shooting a pilot live programme there. They used to be based at Southgate, not a million miles from White Hart Lane; then moved to a soccer stadium in Watford; and now reside in a revamped and enlarged stadium at Copthall, Hendon, North London. It was where my school sports days used to be held when I was around ten. The last home match I saw was against Glasgow Warriors a few weeks ago and the vibe was festive. Glasgow fans outside the stadium were sporting fezes (a Saracens tradition) alongside kilts. The one Scottish fan in our section passed round his hipflask of whiskey whilst playfully bantering with the Sarries supporters. After the match the kids ran on to the (artificial) pitch as usual and a spontaneous game of rugby started among the grown-up fans. I wish such a vibe of sportsmanship, friendliness and family on the new White Hart Lane.

 

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Superhumans v Ability

On the day of the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Paralympics, it’s interesting to contrast the UK television marketing of London 2012 vs Rio 2016

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2012: Meet the Superhumans

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2012: the week between the Olympics and the Paralympics

 

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channel_4_paralympic_ellie

2016: Ability

channel_4_paralympic_david

Two too

An away win at Man City, a good result for England in Rome and The Big Short winning the Best Adapted Screenplay BAFTA, it’s been a weekend of some fine wins…

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Two

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Preserving this for posterity (snapshot from today) as it’s not something us Spurs supporters get to see too often.

Four

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Update: 28/12/15

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My 1st visit to the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

18th Oct 2015 with N – Ireland v Argentina, quarter final Rugby World Cup – England 2015

Cardiff bound… ‪#‎Ireland‬ hope of the Northern Hemisphere ‪#‎RWC2015

Step 1: booze / chips ‪#‎Ireland‬ ‪#‎cardiff‬ ‪#‎RWC2015‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final

Step 2: balls out for more beer #RWC2015 #cardiff #Ireland

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final

Step 3: Leprechaun kit on ‪#‎Ireland‬ ‪#‎RWC2015‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final

Step 4: masks on ‪#‎IRE‬ ‪#‎RWC2015‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final

Step 5: join the green throng ‪#‎IRE‬ ‪#‎RWC2015‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final

Bang on halfway line 6 rows from pitch unfeckinbelievable seats ‪#‎Ireland‬‪#‎RWC2015‬ ‪#‎cardiff‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final millennium stadium

Step 6: enjoy the view ‪#‎RWC2015‬ ‪#‎IRE‬ ‪#‎cardiff‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final millennium stadium

Step 7: drown sorrows ‪#‎IRE‬ ‪#‎RWC2015‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final millennium stadium

Soup of the day for ‪#‎IRE‬ fans ‪#‎cardiff‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final millennium stadium

The ‪#‎Irish‬ making the best of it – party vibe in ‪#‎cardiff‬ ‪#‎RWC2015‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final millennium stadium

You’ve got to be philosophical ‪#‎IRE‬ ‪#‎RWC2015‬ ‪#‎leprechaun‬ wisdom

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final millennium stadium

Thank you ‪#‎cardiff‬ the craic was ninety (even if the result was a bit shit)‪#‎RWC2015‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final millennium stadium

Hiberno-Argentine relations remain undamaged ‪#‎RWC2015‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final millennium stadium

Hiberno-Franco-Argentine relations blossom “If you’re gonna sing, come down here!” ‪#‎RWC2015‬ ‪#‎WorldInUnion‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final millennium stadium

The Argentines are gradually converted – ‪#‎Irish‬ top, can of Guinness, Whiskey in the Jar ‪#‎RWC2015‬

Ireland v Argentina Rugby World Cup 2015 Cardiff 18 October 2015 quarter final millennium stadium

Thank Adolf for the Paralympics

Starting with a Big Bang

Little known fact – we’ve got Herr Hitler to thank for the Paralympics. The founding father of the Paralympic Games was a Jewish doctor on the run from the Nazis who took refuge in the UK. Ludwig Guttmann was born in Silesia in Germany in 1899 and got the hell outta there just before the war in March 1939 (a year after my dad who arrived in London in 1938 at the age of 1). He qualified in 1924 and by 1933 was considered the top Neurosurgeon in the country. Adolf’s arrival meant he couldn’t practice professionally other than in a Jewish-only hospital in Breslau. Once he made it to England he settled down to work at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. He became a British citizen in 1945. Two years earlier he set up a spinal injuries unit based at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. He was a strong advocate of sport as a therapy for spinal injury, building up strength and re-establishing self-belief.

In July 1948, timed to coincide with the opening of the London Olympics, he established the Stoke Mandeville Games which focused on wheelchair sports like archery and involved just over a dozen patients. By the time of the next Olympics (1952) 130 international competitors took part in the Stoke Mandeville Games. In 1960 (in Rome) they transformed into the Paralympic Games (a term which actually came into usage in 1984 [four years after the good doctor passed away] but is retrospectively applied to Rome). At Rome Margaret Maughan, one of Guttmann’s patients in the wake of a 1959 car accident, won Great Britain’s first ever Paralympic gold medal, in the archery competition. The 84 year old lit the flame in Thomas Hetherwick’s Olympic cauldron at last night’s marvellous Opening Ceremony.

Meanwhile back in the Athletes’ Village across the Olympic Park Guttmann’s daughter Eva Loeffler has been acting as the mayor of the village. “I think he would be immensely proud of what has happened. … For future Paralympic Games it shows they are in no way second class games, they’re parallel games.”

The opening ceremonies, Danny Boyle’s and last night’s by Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey, were very much in parallel and complementary – seated giants of Science Tim Berners-Lee and Stephen Hawking, The Tempest, Shaky thesps Kenneth Branagh and Ian McKellen, umbrellas, that beautifully designed cauldron, patiently swaying volunteers, and crucially punk attitude in John Lydon and Ian Dury to give the whole thing real British bite. Add to that some gold medal worthy signing alongside the singers, the rapturous welcome of the GB Team in their Major Tom-style white & gold suits, DV8’s incredible David Toole (star of the brilliant Cost of Living) and a rousing climax to the soul sounds of Beverley Knight in I Am What I Am and I am fired up for a very special occasion born of a very special man.

Lapping it up

Maragaret Maughan at London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony

Enlightened & Fired up (Margaret Maughan)

founder of Paralympic Games

A Good Man who outlived Adolf in every way

 

Post-script 2.ix.12:

Another Olympic thing we have to thank Adolf’s merry men for is the torch relay, made much of in both the Olympics and Paralympics in London 2012 – not an ancient Greek tradition but introduced by Carl Diem, organiser of the Berlin 1936 Games for some fake Classical dignity for the inglourious basterds.

Thanks for the warm-up

Some cheekiness from Channel 4, literally picking up from where the first #Superhumans trailer for the London 2012 Paralympics left off…

How wonderful is it to see a pretty much sold out Paralympics? London, you’re a star

My Olympics: I’ll see you (and raise you too)


“There’s sport going on out there” was the wry, teasing observation of Sebastian Coe as he walked into the London2012.com website office this afternoon shortly after I clocked on at 3pm. Within eight hours he was handing up a bunch of flowers to Jessica Ennis on the top step of the Heptathlon medal podium. Her performance in the last discipline of the 800m was electric – from looking to be falling just behind in the last 250m, she put on the after-burners, fuelled by the noise of the crowd, and blasted to a famous victory. And if that wasn’t enough, within the hour Mo Farah did similar in a perfectly run 10,000m, staying on the shoulder of the front-runners until the last lap where he too kicked off and drove in on the energy of the 80,000 filling the stadium, doing that last lap in 53 seconds.

Before starting work this afternoon I took a wander across the Olympic Park to the far corner behind the Olympic Stadium by the River Lea canal. As it has been since I started in earnest a week ago today the vibe in the packed Park was festive, friendly and enthusiastic. This must go down as an Olympic Games characterised by these three things, as well as the creativity I wrote about in my first My Olympics post. London 2012 will be remembered I hope as the Friendly Games. And it’s not by accident. I did the training for the Gamesmaker programme, the London 2012 volunteer programme, and was really struck by two things: how being yourself and welcoming, with your individual personality, the visitors to London 2012 to make it a brilliant experience for them was very much stressed; also, the whole training programme was shot through with the promises London made in its bid – to inspire young people and to create a genuine legacy for the Games.

From the first day I cycled down the Lea canal to the Main Press Office in the Hackney Wick corner of the Olympic Park, tied up my trusty steed on the railings of the Transport Centre and walked into the complex the Gamesmakers have been super-friendly, with a real connection and camaraderie. The soldiers manning the security have been noticeably polite and displayed a well judged sense of humour. There is a real sense of goodwill which must make it one of the best implementations of volunteering ever.

It’s a total kick to think you’ve contributed in some small way to such a wonderful event. I’m totally buzzing from a day like no other. I took the photo below when I got home as a little souvenir of this 6 Gold Medal day. The crowd bursting into a spontaneous rendition of Hey Jude in the Velodrome thanks to the presence of Paul McCartney among them, in the wake of the Team GB women’s Track Cycling Team Pursuit team catching up their USA rivals as they won by an amazing margin setting their 6th world record in six runs. Jessica Ennis and her six-pack taking her rivals on the outside of the last bend and raising her arms in triumph and relief. Mo Farah embracing his daughter (and Wenlock, the mascot). The power of Greg Rutherford on his run-up. Andy Murray’s sudden lightness in the Mixed Doubles. The youthful potential of Adam Gemili executing an excellent 100m against major league opposition, undaunted. It’s been a day rammed with memories and inspiration to raise the spirits.

Gamesmakers in the Olympic Park today

On arrival at London 2012 this afternoon – dramatic lighting for dramatic sport

Keeping Track

This is the best thing I did at work today, 3rd August, the day the track and field started in the Olympic Stadium in East London – and the day when Jesse Owens won the first of his four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I managed to get him on the home page of the London 2012 website (where I’m working as a Gamesmaker volunteer).

Jesse comes home – 76 years on to the day

Meanwhile, I’ve just taken out two books my grandfather fled from Germany with in 1938. On the fly-leaf is the writing of his sister Else who was killed by the Nazis in 1943 (it was a Christmas present from her in December 1936). The publishers of this record of the XI Olympiad couldn’t write Jesse out of the history but they do their best to undermine his achievements with the racist cartoon below his photograph. But he’s the one we remember and honour.

in memoriam Else Gewurtz

in memoriam Jesse Owens

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