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The Sunday Stroll: 1 May, 2011

May 1, 2011

In a week where the world and his wife focused on one William and his wife, here’s what went on the the sporting echelons, which for once appears to have taken the back seat in many folks’ minds. Fair enough, it was pretty much a global event. No ridiculous hats or ‘fascinators’ in this show however…

FC Shalke 04 might have suffered an all-but-eliminating 0-2 home defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League midweek, but this gem of a clip from the aftermath of their 2-1 triumph (agg. 7-3) over Inter Milan in the previous round shows footballers and fans interacting in the best way possible, with Raúl leading the fans in a few post-match chants in front of the watching players. Great scenes led by a great servant to the game…

Meanwhile, here’s Shalke goalie Manuel Neuer showing just why he is rated as one of the brightest ’keeping talents around…

… and has consequently been linked to a big-money move to numerous big clubs, amongst others Manchester United. A telling hand-shake and pat on the back from Sir Alex at the final whistle perhaps?…

Shameful and comic scenes at the Bernebéu midweek, as a Messi-inspired Barça downed Madrid 2-0 amidst a flurry of red cards and on-pitch clashes. First, substitute Barça ’keeper José Pinto saw red during a shameful half-time scuffle between the two sides, before Madrid defender-cum-midfielder Pepe was (wrongly, in our humble opinion) dismissed for a high boot on Dani Alves (replays show there was minimal contact, if any). In the following moments José Mourinho was sent to the stands (sort of; a cage two feet from the dug-out) for sarcastically applauding the officials and mouthing ‘well done’ in their direction. Barcelona players Alves, Javier Mascherano, Sergio Busquets and Pedro drew much flak for their shameful play-acting, with United’s Rio Ferdinand chipping in on the matter, citing numerous Catalan theatricals as ‘a joke/embarrassing.’ You don’t need a translator to understand the sentiments of this report…

Afterwards, Mourinho – whose side have received four red cards in their last four encounters with the Catalan club – launched into the officials and insinuated that Barça essentially receive special treatment in the big games. His words: ‘It’s clear that against Barcelona you have no chance. I don’t know if it’s the publicity of Unicef [the club’s shirt sponsor], I don’t know if it’s because they are very nice, but they’ve got this power. I don’t know if it’s the friendship of [Spanish football federation president Ángel María] Villar at Uefa, where he is vice-president.’ Food for thought perhaps, but Chelsea fans will undoubtedly agree. Either way, Barça look like reporting Mourinho for his comments… not a great advert for the game, albeit highly entertaining.

Mind you, at least Mourinho didnt react to a disappointing defeat by hitting a post-match TV interviewer, unlike Ove Christensen, coach of Danish football side Randers FC…

But perhaps we should remember the good bits – Messi waltzing past five Madrid defenders to all-but seal a trip to Wembley for the Catalan club… In the words of Rio (and we can’t believe were quoting him on this): ‘Messi saved that match from being talked about exclusively for all the wrong reasons.’

Arsenal had their title hopes pretty much finished off after a late 2-1 defeat to Bolton last weekend. Wenger has constantly denied (although belatedly might be reassessing such a position now) the need for investment, but a lack of dominating leadership on the pitch and two more goals conceded from set-pieces would suggest (as a minimum) the need for a Brede Hangeland-type purchase to slot alongside either Johan Djourou or Thomas Vermaelen at the back. And perhaps a witch-doctor to keep Robin van Persie fit for a full season for once. The Dutchman has fifteen league goals since the return to regular first team football at the turn of the year – over an entire season that would be quite a hefty return. And in the first half of this campaign, might well have prevented costly home defeats to West Brom, Newcastle and Spurs, and blanks fired away to United and Chelsea. Close but no cigar once more for Arsene and his talented youngsters…

Still, although his kids might give away the odd silly penalty (ahem, Eboué), at least they don’t take silly penalties like this chap…

Over in F1, Team Lotus (of the green and yellow variety, not the black and gold sort) have bought out Caterham Cars, hoping to add a bit a credence to their sporting brand. Here is their video on the matter…

This weekend is the seventeenth anniversary of a tragic weekend in Imola where Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna lost their lives whilst racing. A film about the racing life of the Brazilian World Champion Senna is out in the UK this June (titled Senna), we strongly recommend you go see it. Here’s the trailer…

Whilst Senna’s was the death that the world remembers, it is oft forgotten that Austrian driver Ratzenberger also perished earlier that weekend. After Senna had suffered his fatal crash whilst leading the Imola race, it was discovered that the Brazilian had carried an Austrian flag in the cockpit of his car – he had touchingly intended on dedicating the victory to the memory of his fellow driver.

It should also be remembered that whilst the world and his wife went to Senna’s funeral in Brazil, one of the only members of the F1 circus to attend Ratzenberger’s funeral at the same time was the now widely-despised former President of the FIA, Max Mosley. In Mosley’s words: ‘Roland had been forgotten. So I went to his funeral because everyone went to Senna’s. I thought it was important that somebody went to his.’ Mosley might be (justifiably) detested by many these days, but such well-judged humanity should not be forgotten…

World Supersport rider Sam Lowes suffered a pretty hefty crash at Assen the other weekend, getting knocked unconscious and suffering a broken collarbone after high-siding at the notoriously fast circuit. Serves to show just how dangerous a sport bike-racing is, and just how gutsy (and talented) the competitors have to be…

Mind you, there is very little riders can do to prepare themselves for being struck by lightning, as happened mid-practice for the Red Bull Rookies race in Estoril earlier this weekend. Footage available on facebook via this link, although hopefully up on youtube and embedded here sometime soon.

British Superbikes action from Brands Hatch last weekend. Eventful to say the least. Here are the highlights from Race One…

And over in the world of four-wheeled formats, there was a monster of a crash in the V8 Supercars down in Barbagallo this weekend, with a fuel-cell splitting and catching fire. Given the hefty nature of the impact, it is testament to safety advances that these guys walked away from the crash, although it would appear there is still work to do with regards to making  the fuel-cells safer…

In the rugby union world, Brian O’Driscoll turned down an invite to the Royal Wedding to prepare for Leinster’s Heineken Cup semi-final with Toulouse yesterday. O’Driscoll bagged a try and Leinster won… rejected invitation decision vindicated. Meanwhile, Stade Toulousain’s Rupeni Caucaunibuca got all inventive with his try scoring technique and ended up looking like a right fool. Just put the ball down you muppet…

Mind you, at least such idiocy isn’t limited to the rugby playing world; American Footballer DeSean [is that actually a name?] Jackson appears to have committed much the same offence…

The highs and the lows of amateur rugby. Here’s one of the more joyful moments. Well, for the last-minute victors at least…

In the snooker world, youngster Judd Trump has been setting the baize alight with a string of stirring performances en route to a World Championship final appearance in Sheffield this weekend. The prodigiously talented youngster – ‘the youngest player [at just 14 years old] to make a competitive maximum 147 break’ – has burst on to the scene with a number of exciting efforts, and snooker looks to have a bright future with Trump wielding his cue and entertaining the masses. Here’s footage of Trump making a century on his Masters debut last year…

And here he is as an 18-year-old en route to racking up a cheeky break of 69 in a Pro-Am tournament three years ago…

However, sometimes you need more than talent, as demonstrated with this outrageous fluke against reigning-champion Neil Robertson in the first round…

In the cricket world, 15-year-old Barney Gibson made his county debut for Yorkshire and duly became the youngest English first-class cricketer on record, no mean feat so congrats to him. On the subject of youngsters making debuts, here’s a certain Sachin Tendulkar on his debut for India as a sixteen-year-old against Pakistan, facing up to a fearsome pace attack, taking a few hits and scoring a few runs in return…

Over in the IPL meanwhile, new side Kochi Tuskers Kerala were on the receiving end of one hell of a beating against Deccan Chargers midweek. Chasing a modest 129, they suddenly found themselves 11/6 as Ishant Sharma (5 for 12) and Dale Steyn (3 for 16) tore into some rather inept batting, eventually dismissing them for just 74. Skip to 15mins in the vid below to see some great bowling and woeful batting – an eminently watchable combo…

Alas we leave you with a tribute to the legend that was Ayrton Senna…

As ever, thanks for reading folks. All the best, SB

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