Editors Blogs

LET BATTLE COMMENCE…

LET BATTLE COMMENCE…

Harry became Sports Editor in September 2016.

by Harry Fell (Sports Editor)

In a Summer of saddening madness what with the colossal amount of money being spent on football transfers, it’s worth reminding ourselves that we’ve got a lot of positives for British Sport to look back upon as well as an awful lot to look forward to.

First of which, is the success of the Women’s Cricket World Cup winning side with Anya Shrubsole’s bowling masterclass guiding the ladies to their second world title in 3 tournaments. An addition to the successes of Women’s sport this Summer was England’s Lioness’s reaching back to back semi finals in major tournaments, the girls were somewhat unlucky to exit the competition to the hosts, Holland, as a number of decision somehow went against them and in favour of their Dutch counterparts; reaching the last 4 of a major competition is, nonetheless, a great achievement.

In Joe Root’s maiden outing as test captain he led England’s Men’s Cricket side to a resounding 3-1 series victory over South Africa although there are still a number of Ashes places in the side up for grabs after Keaton Jennings and David Malan failed to make impact in the 4 games. Surrey are stuck in the mid table of the county championship division 1 but look likely to make it out of the group stage of the Royal London Cup, however they look set to miss out on the T20 Blast knockout stages as they are currently 7th out of 9 in the south division with over half of their games played.

As we look ahead to the new season of football starting tonight in the Premier League, the boys have given their predictions for who will finish where across all the divisions. But first of all, here’s how I think it’s going to pan out for our local sides as well as the important bits of the Premier League, I think it’s worth mentioning that my opinion is probably the most valid of the team, as I was Wandsworth Radio’s Fantasy Football Champion last season and clearly can predict who is going to succeed most accurately… 😉 :

Harry thinks that Romelu Lukaku will continue his excellent pre season form into the Premier League and will be Golden Boot winner. Read below to see who else agrees with him.

Premier League:

1st – Man City

2nd – Man Utd

3rd – Arsenal

4th – Spurs

5th – Chelsea

6th – Everton

7th – Liverpool

9th – Crystal Palace

18th – Burnley

19th – Brighton

20th – Huddersfield

GOLDEN BOOT – ROMELU LUKAKU

Championship:

Fulham – 2nd

Harry thinks that new addition Jimmy Abdou will help AFC Wimbledon to gain promotion through the play offs this season.

QPR – 3rd – Promoted in play offs

Brentford – 13th

Millwall – 19th

League One:

Wimbledon – 7th – Promoted in play offs

National League:

Sutton Utd – 8th

National League South:

Hampton & Richmond – 3rd – Loses in play off semis – again

Ryman League:

Dulwich Hamlets – 1st

Kingstonian – 4th

Met Police – 9th

Tooting and Mitcham – 12th

 

NOW THEN, LET’S SEE WHAT EVERYONE ELSE HAS TO SAY:

 

 

Henners joined the Sports Team in Summer 2016

WONDER AND EXCITEMENT AS ENGLAND WIN THE WOMEN’S CRICKET WORLD CUP by Henry Thomas-Aldridge (Cricket Correspondent)

Anya Shrubsole stole the headlines as the England women’s team were crowned World Champions as they conquered India by 9 runs at Lords. India crumbled from 191-3 to 219 all out as Shrubsole initiated the collapse, with the wicket of Raut (86), and was instrumental in claiming the final five wickets including a run out.

England’s loss in their first game of the tournament against India meant that England had to perform in their other group stage games in order to receive a more favourable semi-final draw. For the first time in 24 years, England defeated Australia in a World Cup match which provided much hope and excitement as Australia are the highest ranked team in the World. The fact that Australia were knocked out in the semi-final by India will give much hope for the rest of the cricketing nations that Australia’s monopoly may be starting to fade and the world of women’s cricket may be coming more competitive.

Anya Shrubsole destroyed India’s tail end to wrap up the victory in what was an incredibly tense finale.

Most will focus on the dramatic final that was played in front of 26,500 at Lords however no side went the whole tournament undefeated. This demonstrates that women’s cricket is becoming more competitive and that there were some really exciting games for the crowd to watch, but also become inspired by. The huge crowd at Lords for the final was nothing like some of the players had ever seen before. The players will be looking to excite the crowds in the new Kia Super League and again in the Ashes, but of course their performances must warrant the ever-growing attention for the game. The England and Wales Cricket Board’s director of women’s cricket, Clare Connor, has stated that England’s World Cup win must not be a ‘one-off’.

Women’s sport, not just cricket, is now reaching out to a much wider audience because of the restructuring of the football and cricket competitions, playing in larger stadiums and due to more exposure on television. The women’s game needed a World Cup victory like this to go alongside the relatively new Kia Super League to increase interest however the England side must keep producing big performances. The types of performances that granted victories over South Africa, Australia and India will be needed in the upcoming Ashes series to keep fans and youngsters interested and the Wandsworth Radio sports team will be following the England’s women’s side in the quest to claim back the trophy from the Australians later this year.

Here’s my Premier League predictions for the new season:

1. Man City
2. Man United
3. Chelsea
4. Spurs
5. Liverpool
6. Arsenal

18. Burnley
19. Huddersfield
20. Brighton

Best buy: Hernandez (West Ham)

Young player to look out for: Will Hughes (Watford)

 

Phil joined the Sports Team in September 2016.

INDECENT PROPOSAL..? By Phil Aizlewood

Ok, ok. So I know what you’re chewing about so I’ll cut right to the chase: ”Records are there to be broken.”

Broken, yes, but absolutely smashed to smithereens? Not normally, no. But this market is highly abnormal. Neymar [Junior] is an extraordinary talent with immense, global commercial clout. To PSG and their Qatari backers, it’s the attention they wanted and the player they pined for, for their persistently powerful Parisien project. But was their proposal ‘indecent’ in the first place..? Were La Liga right to refuse the cheque? Has football – finally – gone well & truly bonkers? Well, let’s have a quick chat about this.

Such is the trend for nostalgia and all things ‘vintage’ right now, that the easy thing to do here is look longingly at the fluffy little fees being flung around in the mid-late 90s; Zidane to Juventus, a risky £3.2m, Ronaldo to Barcelona, a crazy £12.8m – Shearer to Newcastle, a mind-boggling 15. MILLION. POUNDS. Now the simple equation per se, is the natural inflation not only of economies and life as a whole in the last 20 years, but plain and simples, of the sport we love itself – football is a CRAZY BIG DEAL. Even in places where they call it soccer. But is it any more crazy, let’s say, than the similar evolution of a company like Amazon, for example? In 1997, my [annoying] Aunty Rosemary used it to simply to buy some books she hadn’t been able to find in her favourite charity shop in Chesterfield. Now in 2017, I can walk along on my [smart] phone, order ‘groceries’ via an app for same day delivery, watch on demand films via Prime the second I get home and tell Alexa to tick off ‘food shop’ from my to-do list as I’m sat with popcorn in my beard. Things move fast. Maybe too fast for most and that, I think, is the only true issue here. Rightly or wrongly, people’s heads are spinning & sliced from the shards of this transfer window – the window is not just cracked but fair broken and irreparable, it seems; £30m for Jordan Pickford. £50m for Kyle Walker. £200m for Neymar. But LISTEN, I want to say this once and once only – **TRANSFER FEES THIS SUMMER ARE IRRELEVANT!** 

Hang on, what about the knock-on effect you say? The repercussions for lower-level football? The swell of swagging players who are now famous first, footballers second? Now look, football has become a product.

Neymar has signed for PSG in what seems to be an astronomical world record fee of £200 million. Phil tells us why this shouldn’t be such a shock to the system.

Of that, there is no denying. At its core though, it is still a sport that generates the most sensational passion all around the world, but yes – a product that has become too popular for its own good. Perhaps. The money being offered, accepted [I bet some chairmen can’t believe their eyes] & ultimately transferred, is astronomical. But the fact that these pennies are being pinged around, is because the money is there. It is relative to the power of this ‘monster’ that’s thrashing around and causing apparent destruction. If it wasn’t there, this wouldn’t be happening. If more and more people weren’t watching football, talking about football, buying football shirts and following footballers on every social media platform, the risks/abominations would not be taken/made. As I write this, Neymar has 79.7 MILLION Instagram followers. His outreach is truly top level, comparable only with those other 2 guys who score a lot of goals in Spain. Aside from his stellar stats in the last 4 seasons – 185 goals + assists in 186 games – football is a business brimming with consumer-driven chaos and he will ensure a smooth & rapid return on his investment. Even at €222m, I truly think that it’s an acquisition – at arguably a peak moment – that is about right. As £5.2m was for Rivaldo in the summer of ’96.

With the danger of sounding biased, Jose Mourinho was spot on when he said Paul Pogba would “look cheap very soon” when he aimed to deflect pressure [as he does] away from his £90m main man last August. To see his fee more than doubled in less than 12 months, would have surprised even The Special One, but he’s a smart man and he could see the way things were going. His main “worry” now about the market is that the cluster of more average players will demand bloated flees, unaligned with their talent & value – so yes, maybe some clubs will take a ‘risk’ in the panic of post/pre-season and pay too much for someone who won’t score 30 goals a season and sell you 3 million shirts at €75 a-pop. But here, you see the very workings of what normal business is all about – Risk vs Reward. A perennial problem that in spite of criticism and ill-informed opinion from folk who just see football as a silly sport, will never disappear. Football is here to stay, whether everyone likes it or not – ‘problem’ is, over half the world loves it, so there are around 4 billion pairs of hands and eyes pumping money back into it. La Liga refused the cheque out of principal, Ligue 1 & PSG considered an annoying little nephew of sorts who’s suddenly able to make them sweat in a play-fight. They called their bluff and they lost. If the offer was deemed ‘indecent’ I think it was as ‘indecent’ to refuse it – we should embrace the explosion of competition across Europe, whether that is fuelled by TV, airlines or oil. And remember – Robert Redford only offered Woody Harrelson £1m for a night with Demi Moore because he could AFFORD it.. he wasn’t being a d**k. Right?

Phil expects Jose to finally bring the title back to Old Trafford and agrees with Harry that Lukaku will be the Golden Boot winner. This obviously has nothing to do with Phil being a Manchester United fan…

Talking of Dick, I’m going to let Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore round things up – as much as he bugs me as person, his point here is valid and very good because it’s got numbers in it and stuff:

The more income the Premier League clubs generate – and this has always been the same since football began 150 years ago nearly – they have invested that money in trying to acquire better and better talent.

“I don’t think we should get too carried away by necessary transfer fee inflation, I think of Zidane for £46m back in 2001. In 2001, the Premier League’s turnover was about £460m, and so 10 per cent. If that were true today, then transfer fees would be £300m and so we’re nowhere near that level.

“Clubs obviously spend because the most important thing is to have the talent on the pitch, the most important thing is to make sure that talent is brought together cohesively by a manager, and that’s what creates the excitement for the game – without that investment you really don’t have the show from which all else flows.”  Well said, Richard – the show must go on.

My [erroneous & non-biased] Premier League Predictions 2017/18

  • Champions: Man United 
  • Champions League Places: Man City, Liverpool, Spurs.
  • Relegation: Burnley, Brighton & Huddersfield. 
  • FA Cup: Man City
  • League Cup: Bournemouth
  • Champions League: Barcelona 
  • Prem Top Scorer: Romelu Lukaku 
  • Best Signings: Bernado Silva & Tammy Abraham 
  • Worst Signings: Alvaro Morata & Wayne Rooney
  • Manager of Year: Eddie Howe
  • Player of the Year: Paul Pogba 
  • Young Player of the Year: Marcus Rashford
  • World Cup: Argentina 

Dougie joined the team in October 2016.

TWAS’ THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS… By Dougie Critchley

The night before Christmas? No. The eve of your birthday? No. The night before your final ever exam? No. I’ve had plenty of things to get excited about in the past but for me the start of the new season is untouchable in my head and heart. Its the sense of anticipation, excitement and hope that this year could be your year.

However the Premier League is notoriously difficult to predict, and this year when record spending is forecasted, will be no different.

Everyone has spent big, some wisely, some foolishly.

Here’s how I see my top 6 with a few comments about all:

Dougie expects Pep’s lads to be the title victors this season. A prediction that he shares with Harry.

1st – Man City: Although it may take a few weeks for their almost entirely new back five to bed in, this is now a Guardiola team. Bundles of firepower, legs and cutting edge. If their defence settles I can’t see anyone challenging them.

2nd – Man United: This is now a Mourinho side. In Lukaku and Matic they have signed proven Premier League players who know what it takes at this level. Lindelof hasn’t had a great pre season but if he forms a solid partnership with Bailly, I can see them pushing City all the way. Expect one other signing.

3rd – Spurs: A superb first XI, defensively solid, best midfield pairing in the league and two of the Prem’s best players in Alli and Kane. Whats the issue? Squad depth once again. Their failure to add top quality squad players will be their shortcoming, again.

4th – Chelsea: Strange prediction for many this. But I actually don’t think Chelsea have done that well this window. Matic and Costa have won two titles in three years and are replaced by the injured Bakayoko and Morata who may take 6 months to settle. Add to the mix that Conte seems to have lost his cool this season, calling out Pochettino and Mourinho, and things don’t seem as solid as you’d expect at Chelsea.

5th – Liverpool: Yes they have been mightily impressive in pre season. But Barca are going to go hell for leather for Coutinho and that will be something Klopp won’t want to fathom. If they keep Countinho and add Van Djik I expect them to finish higher.

6th – Arsenal: Yes they have no Champions League football. But Arsenal haven’t strengthened enough. Lacazette is a good player, with a superb record in Ligue 1 but their perennial injury crisis will strike in February and then we all know how flaky they are. Wenger out.

Relegation Tips:

18) Swansea

19) Brighton

20) Huddersfield

 

Steve is currently trailing 8-6 to the team in Better than Zetter! Come on maaate!

FAREWELL USAIN BOLT – A MODERN WONDER OF THE WORLD by Steve Zetter (Deputy Sports Editor)

The end is coming. A marvel of this sporting age is one championship away from retirement, 30 seconds or so from consigning himself to history.

The age of Usain Bolt is nearly over and so the present must be cherished.

Bolt, the fastest man in history, one of the greatest sportsmen to have ever lived, will run his last race at the World Athletics Championships in London.

He will retire having left his mark on history: the first man to win three 100m Olympic titles, the world record holder in both the 100m and 200m, a winner of 23 major gold medals.

His legacy is assured. No man has run with such speed or enjoyed such longevity. The 30-year-old’s extraordinary achievements will be looked back upon with wonder by future generations.

They will watch replays of the young Bolt of Beijing, hushing the crowd on the starting blocks before bang, his arms raised, thumping his chest, clocking a barely believable 9.69 seconds to shatter the 100m world record.

Usain Bolt winning his first Olympic Gold in Beijing 2008.

The 21-year-old’s speed was jaw-dropping, the other eight men in a distinguished field left trailing in his wake. They were in a different race and this 6ft 5in newcomer was from another planet. Two more gold medals followed on the Chinese capital’s lightning-quick track, his 2008 coronation as sprint king complete. Hearts and imaginations were captured and he has been loved ever since.

There have been so many glorious moments. Berlin in 2009, when the Jamaican reduced his 100m and 200m world records further; London 2012 when all three of his Olympic sprint titles were retained. Back to Beijing in 2015, older, ailing, but managing to fend off the challenge of twice-banned Justin Gatlin to retain his grip on 100m and 200m world titles. Then there was Rio last summer, his Olympic farewell ending in further triumph.

Those who will live in a Bolt-less sporting age will wish they had been there, just as we all want to be inside London’s Olympic Stadium on Saturday when the history-maker lines up in the 100m final for his last competitive individual race.

The 4x100m relay on August 12 is likely to be his grand encore. The final act of this gilded athletic tale. There is little point asking who will take over once he is gone. No-one can clown around on the start line and execute excellence like track and field’s joker-in-chief.

As the eight-time Olympic champion himself said this week, it will take more than one athlete to fill his vibrant void. Savour him now because Bolt is irreplaceable.

The idea that you have an athlete who’s the best there’s ever been in the sport, who just happens to have an electric personality as well, a four-time Olympic gold medallist.

That’s not going to come around again. It would be ridiculous to look for it and, I think, the sport has made a mistake by relying on that for the last eight years because he was never going to last forever.

Becoming a legend, hoping that the show would go on and on is perhaps forgivable. It is easy to forget that even the seemingly superhuman age, just like the rest of us, no matter how effortless and enjoyable they make winning seem.

A showman supreme, a magnetic personality, he has been likened to Muhammad Ali, though unlike Ali, he has stayed away from politics.

He has continued to compete because he knew only sustained success would see him ranked alongside the three-time heavyweight champion and Pele, regarded as the greatest footballer of all time.

Usain Bolt will retire after tomorrow’s 4x100m final at the IAAF World Championships in London and will be looking to go out in style.

He wanted to be “among the greatest,” he said before going on to achieve an unprecedented “triple-triple” of Olympic sprint golds in Rio, though he has lost the 4x100m relay gold he won in Beijing as a result of team-mate Nesta Carter’s positive doping test. “I am a legend,” Bolt has said a number of times, after winning three golds in London, and again in Rio. It would be braggadocio from anyone else but, as he himself has explained, he has proved himself to be the best for nearly a decade.

But even Ali, like most in life, had to comeback from lows. It added to his legend. Bolt, however, has excelled at major championships no matter what his form or fitness. His only failure was a false start in the 2011 World Championships 100m final.

Yes, he has slowed over the years and the frequency of injuries have increased. At times, the country boy who began racing to buy his mother a washing machine has also struggled for motivation after achieving more than he ever dreamed.

But even Bolt beyond his peak has always managed to be better than the rest. I don’t think that you could discount anything that he’s done over the years. Some of the fastest times in the 100m and 200m have come about during his career.”

The sprint freak from a remote Jamaican village has already said his goodbyes to his own; a five-hour farewell in the national stadium in Kingston, a celebration which started with prayers from an ordained minister.

Thirty-five thousand people watched their most famous son run his 84th and last race on home soil. Bolt, so those on the inside say, would have preferred for that to have been his farewell.

He is most comfortable at home, living as ordinary a life as a millionaire superstar can. He trains in a public gym, dances in nightclubs. There is no need for private security. It is when he steps onto foreign soil that people become agog by his presence, which means life on the road is mostly spent in hotels.

Hidden behind the tomfoolery on the track, however, is a thoughtfulness, a keen athletics brain and an intense competitive streak. He’s thought a lot about what it’s going to take to get him through the first 40m. He had the tools and resources to put it together and that’s why he’s great.”

Unlike many of history’s great talents, Bolt has been appreciated in his own time. For nearly a decade he has radiated in a sport darkened by doping. Nine of the 30 fastest 100m times, including the top four, are Bolt’s. The other 21 marks on that list have been run by athletes who have, at some point, tested positive for doping.

Questions have been raised about Bolt, especially when he first emerged in Beijing. After all, athletes as tall as him are not supposed to run that fast, but the man himself is not bothered by such talk. He is different, a speedster whose long levers allow him to cover the 100m in just 41 strides when others need a few steps more and a little more time.

It will never be the same again.

August 11th, 2017

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