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The Sunday Stroll: 8 May, 2011

May 8, 2011

The incomparable Seve Ballesteros sadly passed away a couple of days ago after a three-year battle with cancer. The BBC has published a page full of tributes from the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Colin Montgomerie should you wish to read it. Everytime we saw footage of Seve playing, there was a smile and enthusiasm that others would do well to replicate. Coupling this with a unique style and natural talent that saw him achieve 5 majors, 87 career titles, and a successful Ryder Cup captaincy, you can see why he was revered by so many and why the world is undoubtedly a sadder place following his loss. Here he is rescuing a wayward drive into a car park, remarkably setting himself up for a birdie in the process…

Judd Trump versus John Higgins in the Crucible final… gripping, thrilling, enthralling – the list of applicable adjectives is endless. Higgins’ immense matchplay and all round game going head-to-head with the explosive and fearless talents of young Judd Trump… quite a match up. The decisive moment in the final frame, a simple missed pink from Trump. But a quite brilliant recovery by Higgins from 0-60 to take the frame (having needed two snookers at one point) and seal the match. Quite brilliant…

And here are the top ten shots of the Championship…

Mitchell Johnson made a right tit out of himself in the Ashes last winter. Lesson: when batting, never sledge a fast bowler, especially when your teammate down the other end is a tail-ender…

Boxing legend Sir Henry Cooper OBE sadly passed away last weekend. Below is part of his famous fight with the great Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay), when he famously felled Ali in the fourth, Ali being saved from defeat through a combination of his arm getting caught in the ropes (preventing him from fully hitting the deck) and the controversial actions of his trainer, Angelo Dundee, who illegally guided him to his corner and illegally used smelling salts to revive his fighter. After the fight, Ali cited Cooper’s flooring hit as ‘the hardest punch I have ever taken.’ High praise indeed…

Into motorsport, bikes specifically, and Josh Brookes had a spectacular crash at Oulton Park in the British Superbikes on Bank Holiday Monday, his bike nearly collecting fellow front-runner Stuart Easton in the process. His comments on the incident: ‘I’m hurting but I’m not hurt.’ Glad that’s cleared up then…

Over in MotoGP, World Champion Jorge Lorenzo had a forthright disagreement with Marco Simoncelli over the weekend, with matters and opinions reaching a peak in a pre-race press conference. Lorenzo, uneasy about Simoncelli’s perceivedly agressive riding style, let him and the watching world know just what he thought of his Italian rival’s ‘arms-and-legs-everywhere’ style. The crux of the matter is as follows:

Something all motorbike racers can agree on and be thankful for is the improvements in safety standards and marshalling. If you don’t believe us, check out this MotoGP clip from Imola in 1974 – hay-bales for barriers and blokes in boxers for marshalls. Just drag him off the track chaps…

From two to four wheels and a right bizarre one. A rally driver overshoots a corner and nearly runs over a child, then reverses back to offer his apologies. Astonishing and brilliant…

Fans of own-goal blunders, amusing missed-kicks and goalkeeping howlers look no further: HYUNDAI A-LEAGUE FOOTBALL BLOOPERS 2010/11. Enough said…

Mind you, it’s not all bad football-wise Down Under. Here are the top 20 goals from 2010/11…

We all remember the Michael Jackson statue which Fulham chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed unveiled at Craven Cottage back in April. More so, we also recall the unease with which many Fulham fans undoubtedly greeted the plastic monstrosity [by which we mean the statue and not Jacko’s visit to the ground back in the late 90s]. What could be worse than this, we wonder? How about being reminded that Al-Fayed once released a single in the club’s name – a collaboration with Keith Allen and Fat Les – which contained the lyrics ‘we’re not Real Madrid, we’re not Barcelona, we are Fulham, Al-Fayed is the owner.’ Still, at least Al-Fayed didn’t start rapping out-of-tune on the record. Oh… he did? Ahh. Awkward…

Mind you, Norwich City [congrats on the promotion by the way] fans might have their own take on high-up club officials partaking in cringeworthy antics…

Midweek, Barcelona reached the Champions League final after a 1-1 draw at home to Real Madrid. Cheers to OptaJean for this stat, but you have got to say it is pretty clear which Spanish giant has had the better of it this season: ‘2494 – Over the 5 Clasicos this season, Barcelona completed 2494 passes more than Real Madrid.’ 2494! That is an astonishing average of nearly 500 more passes per game than Madrid. By comparison, Blackburn Rovers normally take two matches just to make 500 passes alone! Outrageous…

Still, for every good pass there appears to be a ridiculous over-reaction to a relatively innocuous challenge. Javier Mascherano back at the play-acting antics midweek; a real shame to see, especially as we fail to recall him conducting himself in such a laughable manner whilst in the Premiership a few years back…

What wasn’t a shame to see, however, was the return of Éric Abidal after a two-month absence following surgery on a liver tumour back in March. A great reception for the returning French defender…

Video footage of lineswoman Sian Massey getting nailed has emerged. Well, sort of…

On a more serious note, each time we watch that we become more convinced that the Cardiff City player (Kevin McNaughton) who barged her over did so rather cynically. Accidentally, my arse. All subjective posturing obviously, but watch it again and you might just agree – McNaughton pretty much runs around the Middlesbrough player to poleaxe the official…

Anyways, given the context of Andy Gray’s dismissal from Sky Sports, is it any wonder the following dubbed clip has emerged…

And here’s a quite remarkable pair of misses from Roma striker Mirco Vučinić…

From football to tennis, and you could probably have given Tim Henman an army of these and he still would never have won Wimbledon…

In the cricket world, England reshuffled their leadership pack and appointed Alastair Cook as skipper of their ODI team, a safe long-term move that gives Cook further leadership practice prior to eventually taking over the main Test role from Andrew Strauss. Intriguingly the Twenty20 skipper job went to Stuart Broad, which will give Cook time off and allow Broad ‘the opportunity to further advance his leadership credentials’ in case the Test or ODI side require an alternative skipper. Smart moves, you’d have to say. Here are highlights of perhaps Strauss’ finest ODI knock, his 158 in the remarkable draw against India in the recent World Cup…

And finally, seeing as there was a Royal wedding last weekend, here is footage of the Queen like you have never seen before. Unless, of course, you have seen it obviously…

As ever, thanks for reading folks…

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