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Archive for June, 2011

WHY HEARTS MUST SACK SEX OFFENDER CRAIG THOMSON

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BY JOHN GUBBA

Craig Thomson - a former Scottish Player of the Month

Craig Thomson - a former Scottish Player of the Month

How sad that Hearts had to wait from pressure from the media, the public and their sponsors before suspending sex offender Craig Thomson. The fact that he was not sacked – never mind suspended -as soon as he was convicted brings shame on the Scottish club and their ridiculous owner Vladimir Romanov.

Some may say it is hard to write off the career of a promising 20-year-old footballer who has much to offer the game, and he should be given a second chance. But I am sorry. No way. There can be no place for  the former Young Player of the Month on a professional football pitch at this point in time because some crimes are impossible to reconcile in a sport where the participants are regarded as heroes by their fans.

The truth is he has already been given a second chance by the judge who decided not to give him a jail sentence following a conviction for ‘lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour’. The facts are Thomson is now a convicted paedophile who has been placed on the sex offenders register for 5 years for preying on underage girls – one as young as 12 – via the internet.

Vladimir Romanov - guilty of ridiculous rants that have brought shame on Hearts

Vladimir Romanov - guilty of ridiculous rants that have brought shame on Hearts

It is hard to imagine circumstances where Thomson can be allowed back into the game. But at the very least he must be banned from football while he is on the sex offenders list and he must work hard in the meantime to prove he has been cured of his sexual addiction of preying on under age girls.

When Hearts tried to stand by their man yesterday and their owner Romanov made a bizarre rant attacking outside influences and even the mafia it was a grotesque act of choosing money over morals. Romanov has a history of eccentric and often controversial outbursts since first buying a stake in Hearts in 2004. But this was a new low.

Sacking a prize asset will hurt Hearts financially. But the realisation that failing to do so could hurt them even more because of the risk of  sponsors pulling out and fans threatening to abandon the club could hurt them more. That is why Hearts will surely see the light and sack Thomson eventually.

But how sad that Hearts’ decision will be based on financial considerations and not doing the right thing.

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MURRAY IS THE REAL DEAL AND HOW GREAT TO SEE AN ENGLISH BULLDOG’S FIST-PUMPING SUPORT FOR SCOTTISH BRAVEHEART

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Andy Murray into the final 16

Andy Murray into the final 16

BY JOHN GUBBA

There is something special about Andy Murray that sets him apart from all the British also-rans in living memory who have failed to win Wimbledon.

The Scottish braveheart is a rare breed for a Brit. He has skill, style and swagger with a delicious sprinkling of irreverent streetfighter that makes him a winner.

Maybe it is because he is a Scot, without the airs and graces of the privileged set who have served up generations of false hopes and predictable disappointments. In stark contrast, his predecessor as British No.1 Tim Henman was less of a tiger and more like the stereotypical English gentleman we expect to find at a typical Lawn Tennis Club.

Whether or not Murray reaches the holy grail and becomes the first British player in 75 years to win Wimbledon there is no doubt in my mind the 24 year old World No.4 from Dunblane is the real deal.

At times his raw passion and intensity reminds me of the great John McEnroe, the brash New Yorker who won the Wimbledon crown with a cocktail of brilliance and brutish aggression that regularly upset the establishment.

Murray is a talent with the hunger and genius to beat the best. But there is a big question mark against the Scot’s chances of winning the men’s singles title at the All-England Club. And it’s not because he lacks the quality to do so. It just so happens that he has not one, not two, but three great players standing in his way.

In Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer he faces the prospect of possibly having to conquer two of the greatest players ever to pick up a tennis racquet. While waiting in the wings is Novak Djokovic, this year’s form player who began 2011 with 42 straight wins.

With Murray safely through to the second week, we are still on course for the dream semi-final showdown between Murray and World No.1 Nadal. That will be a great sporting occasion to savour if both men get there in one piece. And I’ve a hunch that Murray will push the great Spaniard closer than many people expect if that epic contest becomes a reality. He is certainly growing in confidence following his tournament win at Queens with three impressive triumphs en route to the last 16.

“The matches are going to get tougher and tougher. But I’m ready,” was the Scot’s confident declaration after his third round win over the big-serving Ivan Ljubicic. And it was great to see the ferocity of the support on Centre Court with English bulldog Brian Moore mirroring the fist pumping actions of Murray on the big points.

Forget the petty tribal jealousy of some small-minded British sports fans, how great to see an English sporting legend give his unequivocal backing to a Scottish superstar.

Andy Murray made an awesome recovery in his first round match at Wimbledon. After losing the first set, he swatted aside Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0. But the odds are against him becoming Britain's first Wimbledon winner in 75 years

Andy Murray made an awesome recovery in his first round match at Wimbledon. After losing the first set, he swatted aside Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0. But the odds are against him becoming Britain's first Wimbledon winner in 75 years

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FROM RUSSIA WITHOUT LOVE: FOR SO-CALLED FAN TO THROW BANANA AT ROBERTO CARLOS SHOWS 2018 WORLD CUP HOSTS ARE STILL LIVING IN THE DARK AGES

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BY JOHN GUBBA

The Russians have much to do to clean up their act after the latest disgaceful racist taunting of Brazlian football legend Roberto Carlos was caught by the TV Cameras. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident in a country plagued with similar incidents since winning the right to host the 2018 World Cup.

There is a long history of African players complaining of monkey chants and thrown bananas, while ethnic clashes that rocked Moscow late last year were organised in co-ordination with football fans. As recently as March this year, former Brazilian international Carlos was targeted when a fan from a club in St. Petersburg taunted him with a half-peeled banana.

Roberto Carlos has twice been the victim of racist abuse in Russia

Roberto Carlos has twice been the victim of racist abuse in Russia

The latest incident,  during a league match on Wednesday, prompted the 38-year-old 2002 World Cup winner to throw the banana back at the stands and to walk off the pitch in the city of Samara in disgust. He later said he was considering quitting the game in protest.

“I am really upset by what happened,” said Carlos, whose team-mates have revealed broke down in tears when he got back to the dressing room and appeared crushed by the racist jibe.

Fighting tears and an appeal from the referee, he refused to continue playing and after the game said: “I’m outraged by the sickening behavior of this fan, who, in fact, insulted not only me but all the players.

“I hope the Russian federation, UEFA and FIFA will give an adequate evaluation to this disgusting incident.”

The former Brazilian superstar, who now plays for Anzhi Makhachkala in the Russian Premier League added: ”I am used to there being no racism in football. Russia should not be an exception.”

The famous Roberto Carlos banana free-kick: France v Brazil, 1997. Probably the best free-kick ever scored, it was so outrageous many fans have questioned whether he really meant it. But physicists laid the argument to rest by computing the trajectory and deciding it was all down to a phenomenon known as the 'spinning ball spiral'.

The famous Roberto Carlos banana free-kick: France v Brazil, 1997. Probably the best free-kick ever scored, it was so outrageous many fans have questioned whether he really meant it. But physicists laid the argument to rest by computing the trajectory and deciding it was all down to a phenomenon known as the 'spinning ball spiral'.

He added: “Stop playing was what went through my mind, yes. I have decided that I will stay but if something like this happens again I will have to make a decision.

“You know when that sadness hits, that feeling of being powerless? I left there sad, hurt. So many kids there. That has to be banned from football. When I got to the locker rooms the guys hugged me and sang for me. It was a very interesting thing. The guys on the team really like me.”

The man who threw the banana was caught on a CCTV camera and police said they were urgently seeking to identify him. But it is important that justice is done and is seen to be done by the rest of the world.

FIFA brushed aside claims that the Russian game was riddled with racism to award it the 2018 World Cup last December accepting assurances that the authorities would crack down hard on racism. It is time for the authorites to actually do what they promised.

Roberto Carlos became a worldwide star when he famously scored an incredible banana free kick against France at Le Tournoi in 1997

WHEN ABRAMOVICH MAKES A DECISION HE DOES NOT CARE HOW MUCH IT COSTS – AND MONEY TALKS FOR ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS

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Andre Villas-Boas does not want to be compared to Jose Mourinho

Andre Villas-Boas does not want to be compared to Jose Mourinho

BY JOHN GUBBA

The thing about being appointed manager of Chelsea is this: It’s all about the money. And everyone, it seems, has their price – as we are about to find out with the latest lottery winner being asked to walk the precarious plank to the Bridge, Porto coach Andre Villas-Boas.

The media have dubbed him The Special One Mark 2 because the 33 year-old was part of Jose Mourinho’s backroom staff at Porto, following him to Chelsea and then Inter Milan.  But since then Villas-Boas has made his mark in the hot seat at Porto, winning the  treble of domestic League, Portuguese SuperCup and Europa League in his first season.

He did go on record as saying he wanted to stay at Porto and had no intention of going to Chelsea beacuse he did not want to be compared to his old boss Mourinho, with whom he has plenty in common. Neither man has played the game at a serious level and both have always been dedicated to the art of being a coach. Both are winners and have a habit of making big statements as Villas-Boas did when he originally said he would not be joining Chelsea’s managerial conveyorbelt.

But money talks. Impulsive Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is ready to pay the £13.2 million get out clause written into Villas-Boas’ contract with Porto and then pay him the going rate of at least six million a year to win trophies every season with Chelsea. Note the job description is all about winning trophies. And by the way that must include the Champions League or you’re fired – and only Lord Sugar can match Abramovich in dishing out that famous line.

It was good while it lasted: Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich

It was good while it lasted: Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich

The Russian billionaire has already been through seven managers in the last seven years, if you count the seven day reign of Ray Wilkins after World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked in 2008. The others are Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti.

If he has the bottle to go through with it, the new man in the Chelsea hotseat knows that while money is no object, time is a rare commodity that does not exist in SW6. At the age of 33 Villas-Boas will face a race against the clock and his first big hurdle will be to work out how to tackle the player power of a dressing room where the likes of  John Terry clearly have more power than is healthy for a top club to succeed.

The question is will the appointment of Mourinho’s protégé be the start of a new era, or simply more proof,  four years after his departure, that Abramovich made the biggest mistake of his life when he parted company with the original ‘Special One’?

US OPEN CHAMPION RORY McILROY TALKS TO CNN ABOUT FOLLOWING IN FOOTSTEPS OF BOYHOOD HERO TIGER WOODS

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A STAR IS BORN: MAKE NO MISTAKE A NEW GLOBAL SUPERSTAR IS HERE TO STAY

HOW RORY SHOWED FROM THE START OF THE US OPEN HE WAS HELLBENT ON BEING NO.1

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Follow visionsportTV on Twitter  Graeme McDowell and Jack Nicklaus have hailed the genius that is Rory McIlroy after he broke his Major duck at the US Open -  and McDowell predicts that his fellow Ulsterman can surpass Tiger Woods as the greatest golfer of the modern era.

Rafa Nadal told the BBC how Rory McIroy has inspired him

Rafa Nadal says Rory McIroy has inspired him as he prepares his Wimbledon defence. “For sure, Rory is an inspiration. I admire him a lot,” said Nadal. “I love watching Rory. What he’s doing is really something unbelievable. I met him in New York last year. I love golf and follow almost every week the tour. He has probably one of the nicest swings in the world, if not the nicest. "

McDowell , who won in 2010 at Pebble Beach, was delighted to pass his trophy onto  22-year-old McIlroy whom he described as the greatest golfer he has ever seen.

“My hat’s off to Rory this week,” said McDowell after he watched McIlroy wrap up a sweet victory from the side of the 18th green at Congressional. “It’s been waiting to happen. He’s been this good for a long time, and it’s great to see him fulfill his potential. He’s an awesome player.

“He’s the best player I’ve ever seen and he’s going to be a great ambassador for the sport.

“Will he achieve what Tiger has? Can he be that good? Yeah. He’s got that potential.”

McIlroy is now up to fourth in the world rankings and McDowell added:  “It’s just phenomenal – you run out of superlatives to describe what he’s doing this week. He’s decimating a field.

“I’ve been waiting for this to happen. He’s that good, there’s no doubt about it.

Rory is already a huge star in the States

Rory is already a huge star in the States

“I first heard about him when he shot that 61 at my home course in Portrush. You hear rumors about people and good players come and go, but this kid was something a bit special.

“He’s potentially the next Tiger Woods – he’s that good. It’s great to see him out there fulfilling his potential. He’s been like an accident waiting to happen.”

Nicklaus – who holds the record of 18 Major wins – was a few months older than McIlroy when he claimed his first in 1962.

“Rory’s ahead of already – and his score is way ahead of my pace,” said Nicklaus.

“I think this kid’s going to have a great career – I don’t think there’s any question about it.

“He’s humble when he needs to be humble and confident when he needs to be confident. I like his moxie – he’s cocksure and I like that. You’ve got to have that.

“He obviously had a couple if disappointments at The Masters and last year’s Open but I didn’t think that was going to happen again and it hasn’t.”

MAKE NO MISTAKE AT THE AGE OF 22 RORY McILROY IS NOW THE NO.1 GLOBAL GOLFING SUPERSTAR – AND HE IS HERE TO STAY!

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Rory McIlroy lifts the US Open trophy

Rory McIlroy lifts the US Open trophy

BY JOHN GUBBA

In the history of sport there are few storylines to match the astonishing way Rory McIlroy has come back from his heartbreaking meltdown at the Masters to take the US Open crown with an unbelievable display of pure genius.

Breaking records galore, the hugely popular 22 year old Ulsterman from Holywood in Northern Ireland has written his name into sporting legend with a breathtaking coming of the age.

Finishing on an unprecedented 16 under par 268, McIlroy demolished the competition at the Congressional Country Club, ending eight shots clear of Jason Day. His final round 2 under par 69 saw him smash the tournament scoring record by a whopping four strokes.

“It feels incredible to be a major Open champion,” said the modest McIlroy who chaulked up rounds of 65, 66, 68 and 69. “I have always dreamed of achieving this. And after what happened at the Masters in Augusta this year I wanted to come out and not just prove to myself but prove to everyone that I was good enough to win a major.”

At every stage of this epic triumph, the young Irishman has set new standards and won the hearts of a global audience on the way to eclipsing his boyhood hero Tiger Woods and keeping the crown in Northern Ireland following Graeme McDowell’s success last year.

Not since Woods – who missed this tournament with injury – stormed to a 15 stroke victory at the US Open in 2000 has anyone made such an awe-inspiring impact on the game of golf. Not only has he become the youngest winner of the US Open for 88 years. But he has done it in a swashbuckling manner of unprecedented brilliance.

A star is born - Rory McIlroy the 2011 US Open champion

A star is born - Rory McIlroy the 2011 US Open champion

Even before his remarkable glory was complete his achievement prompted awe from beyond his own sport, with tennis legend Rafael Nadal revealing how the Ulsterman’s brilliance is an “inspiration” for him as he sets out on the defence of his Wimbledon title.

“For sure, Rory is an inspiration. I admire him a lot,” said Nadal. “I love watching Rory. What he’s doing is really something unbelievable.”

This is only the first major for McIlroy – 10 weeks after his nightmare collapse at the Masters – but you will not find anyone who follows the game of golf who believes that this will be his last because the youngster has the aura of a champion who is here to stay for a long time.

This inspirational young man has the world at his feet. And everything about him suggests he can become one of the most famous sportsmen on the planet.

He certainly charmed  a worldwide audience as he made an emotional victory speech after giving his father Gerry a huge victory hug.

“Happy Fathers’ Day dad. This one’s for you” announced McIlroy, whose dad worked as a barman at the Holywood Golf Club where Rory grew up from a toddler to a golfing superstar. “Everything my mum and dad have done for me over the years I can’t thank them enough.”

MASTERS MELTDOWN           HALFWAY AT THE US OPEN       HOW IT LOOKED AFTER DAY THREE

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Rory McIroy with proud dad Gerry

Rory McIroy with proud dad Gerry

NOW WILL ENGLISH FOOTBALL PLEASE GO BACK TO BASICS!

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Stuart Pearce thought England could win the European Championships

Stuart Pearce thought England could win the European Championships

BY JOHN GUBBA

So England’s Under 21s crashed out of the European Championships after being all set for the semi-finals when they led the Czech Republic 1-0 after 89 minutes. And I for one am not disappointed.

I do not wish to sound unpatriotic. But victory would only have confused the dreamers who think England are a force to be reckoned with on the world stage. The truth is that when Stuart Pearce’s youngsters conceded two goals in the final three minutes to lose 2-1 it brought English football fans back to reality.

Too many of England’s young stars were not up to standard, and the style of play was just too negative. Only the immaculate Chris Smalling and impressive attacking full-back Kyle Walker emerge with any real credit. Danny Wellbeck had the satisfaction of scoring both England’s goals. But let’s face it, apart from isolated individual excellence, this tournament underlined just how far our game has fallen behind the world’s elite. The Spanish youngsters played football from a different planet.

It is clear that Pearce does not see the wider picture when he declared: “I don’t pre-judge this a failure, we will take defeat on the chin. There are a load of positives, the back four have done well, and the keeper has done well. The boys have gained tournament experience.”

Sorry Stuart. You were a fantastic player and the ultimate example of a international who gave everything when you wore the England shirt. But passion and stubbornly sticking to our old fashioned tactics are no longer good enough. It is time for England to accept that we have to go back to basics and work on developing skill, creativity and teamwork. Passion is no substitute for class.

RORY McILROY’S MASTERCLASS IS MAGICAL MILESTONE DESTINED TO MAKE HIM SPORTING SUPERSTAR ON PAR WITH TIGER WOODS

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Rory McIlroy - a new superstar is born

Rory McIlroy - a new superstar is born

BY JOHN GUBBA

Make no mistake. The unbelievable way Rory McIlroy has dominated the US Open has given him the opportunity to emulate his boyhood hero Tiger Woods and become the new king of golf.

The curly haired 22 year old from Holywood in Northern Ireland has spent three days breaking records and stands on the threshold of making the same kind of impact Woods did in 2000, when he demolished the competition to win his first US Open by a staggering 15 strokes and finish 12 under par.

After rounds of 65 and 66 on the opening two days, McIlroy shot 68 to post the US Open’s best ever 54-hole total of 199 and become the first man to reach 14 under in its 111-year history.

It was enough to extend his lead over second placed YE Yang to eight strokes as the Korean went round in 70 to move to six under. Lee Westwood and Jason Day both hit 65s to join Robert Garrigus on five under.

Despite his huge lead, there is still work to be done for the young Irishman to claim his first major. And at the back of his mind will be the nightmare of 10 weeks ago when he went from four in front to 10 behind with a disastrous 80 on the final day of the Masters.

But this time McIlroy has the aura of a man who knows he is destined to be a champion – and he is hellbent on claiming his crown in style..

The eyes of the sporting world will be on him on the final day at the Congressional Country Club at Bethesda. And all sports fans will be holding their breath. Not because they fear he will lose his nerve. But because they anticipate witnessing an historic sporting achievement that will rank alongside any in the history of golf – if McIlroy can finish the way he has played for the first three days.

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Tiger Woods won his first US Open by 15 strokes in 2000

Tiger Woods won his first US Open by 15 strokes

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EXCUSE THE QUALITY BUT HERE IS A TREAT FROM YOUTUBE FOR ANYONE WHO WONDERS WHY WE CALL IT ‘THE BEAUTIFUL GAME’

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As a professional film maker it never ceases to amaze me how content is king even when the video quality is shocking.  This montage was clearly produced by an amateur YouTuber and  is poor quality technically and 100% unofficial. But you will still enjoy the beauty of the action. That’s why it has had over 13 million views.

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Classic Goals from the Premier League

Classic Goals from the Premier League

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Collect all 5 volumes of this great DVD collection

Collect all 5 volumes of this great DVD collection

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AGAINST ALL ODDS: WHY BRAVEHEART McLEISH HAS THE BOTTLE TO WIN OVER THE FANS AND BECOME A HERO AT ASTON VILLA

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Alex McLeish's finest hour with Birmingham City

Alex McLeish's finest hour with Birmingham City

BY JOHN GUBBA

When the going gets tough the tough get going – and Alex McLeish has shown he is as hard as nails by turning from a Bluenose to a Villain

It is easy to question the dignity of the way McLeish quit Birmingham and moved across the city to take the vacant manager’s job at bitter rivals Aston Villa.

When McLeish resigned as manager of Birmingham by email, it reminded me of the time Phil Collins famously dumped his second wife by fax.

Not a lot of class in the the way the message was sent. And to make jilted City’s anger worse, confirmation that their man had been courted by the enemy was the ultimate betrayal. It was a storyline that alienated Birmingham and Villa fans in equal measure.

Phil Collins dumped his second wife by fax

Phil Collins dumped his second wife by fax

But there is something about McLeish that convinces me he has the strength of character to turn the hostility around and make this managerial merrygoround a soap opera with an unexpected twist.

It is 30 years since Aston Villa were champions of England. And there is little chance of McLeish bringing Villa that kind of glory any time soon. But I’m backing the new man in the Villa Park hot seat to win over the disgruntled natives.

Despite taking Birmingham down twice in four seasons he did taste Carling Cup glory with an historic win over Arsenal that took silverware back to St Andrews. And his previous successes at Rangers are testament to the Scot’s impressive pedigree.

With the right backing from Villa owner Randy Lerner there is no reason why McLeish will not be Villa’s most successful manager for many years.

Final word goes to former Villa winger Tony Morley who greeted the news of McLeish’s appointment by declaring: “I admire the man because he’s stuck to his guns. A lesser man would have just walked away and said I can’t handle this.”