“Stoppage Time” is an informal take on some of the key stories in UK football. Jonny and Joe will discuss their thoughts on Celtic and the grogginess of their European hangover, Harry Redknapp’s decision to take on yet another club in the nether regions of the league and discussing whether it’s Benitez or Chelsea we should dislike more.
The event was rather ironic, given the ongoing complaints of players that the yearly schedule puts unfair demands on the players.
Big names such as Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have recently lamented the gruelling effects of the tour, which has no official off-season. And Murray himself recently made controversial claims that the situation could eventually lead to a players’ strike.
But speaking yesterday, he backtracked on his initial claim :”When I said it was a possibility, I didn’t expect that to be such a massive issue. It’s so far away from being at that level.
“Me, and not any of the players I know, want to strike.”
Murray is currently third in the world, and has won back-to back titles in the past two weeks.
It has been well documented in recent years that sport as a whole is missing something that is vital for the future. Without the proverbial ‘role model’, sport in all forms will begin to take a severe nosedive. And judging by the antics on and off the sporting fields this weekend, it seems we are no closer to finding iconic figures for our young sporting hopefuls to idolise.
Friday night saw England’s footballers face Montenegro in an all important Euro 2012 qualifier. Fabio Cappello’s side managed to tally up that all important point they needed to guarantee them automatic qualification into next summer’s finals. But it was the on-field actions of one Wayne Rooney that made the Saturday morning paper headlines. With his side 2-1 ahead and looking almost certain to close the game out, Rooney was red carded 73 minutes into the match for kicking out at an opposition defender. All this came after a day of controversy for the Rooney family, after his father and uncle were arrested on suspicion of involvement in an alleged betting scam (I wonder if the pair had backed Wayne to be sent off on Friday?!).
There is no question as to Wayne Rooney’s ability as a football player and he is undoubtedly the spearhead of the English national side, but as a role model to millions of aspiring young players, is Wayne Rooney setting the wrong example? Granted, the sending off came on the back off a day to forget and the strain of what went on with his family must have been playing on his mind, but he simply has to realise his position in the modern game. Rooney could do a lot worse than take heed of former England strikers Sir Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker, both of whom were famously never cautioned or sent off in their illustrious careers.
However, it is unfair to lay all the blame at the door of Wayne Rooney and at footballers in general. I mean, England’s rugby lads’ halos have been noticeable by their absence of late. Mike Tindall, Courtney Lawes and Manu Tuilagi have all been caught up in antics during England’s now notorious 2011 World Cup campaign. As has been widely reported, Tindall, who married Zara Phillips in Edinburgh this year, was caught on CCTV in a Queenstown nightclub chatting to another woman.
Lawes, in a similar fashion to Wayne Rooney, was banned for 3 matches for violent behaviour during England’s victory over Scotland, and Tuilagi was fined £3000 for jumping off a ferry in Auckland on Sunday. Not exactly a World Cup to remember for the right reasons.
The role model in sport is becoming ever distant. But who is to blame? Do we solely blame the the individuals responsible for their actions, or are we the media partly to blame, highlighting and speculating about every move these athletes make? For example, who would have thought up until recently that Ryan Giggs was a poor role model? Until his personal life came out in the wash earlier this year, Giggs was the epitome of the sporting icon, a character for youngsters to aspire towards. But such is the power of the media in sport now that even the most admired of sporting characters cannot hide from the gaze of the press.
P.S. A special happy 40th birthday wish to former Scotland international and Preston North End midfielder Graeme Alexander. Graeme is one of only two outfield players to tally up over 1,000 appearances in English league football. Here, perhaps, is a man our youngsters should look towards idolising!
Ross Winton, Sports Reporter
Being a modern athlete cannot be said to have a long shelf life. You need only look to the world of football to figure that out. Case in point: Frank Lampard. Just last week many journalists and fans alike were becoming quick to criticise the Chelsea and England midfielder.
This came after Stamford Bridge boss Andre Villas Boas made him an unused substitute in their recent 4-1 Premier League win over Swansea. This led to discussions on football forums and amongst leading football critics as to whether Lampard’s career was petering out.
At age 33? Ludicrous. Lampard has since brushed off these hyper-critics, responding by notching-up 4 goals in his last two appearances, including a stunning hat-trick in Sunday’s 5-1 demolition on Bolton Wanderers.
But, should Lampard’s career end abrubptly tomorrow, he would still be laughing all the way to the bank. Statistics revealed just yesterday suggested Lampard was worth a staggering £26miliion, making him the world’s 7thrichest footballer.
The same cannot be said however, for young Accrington Stanley defender Tom Bender. The 18 year old, who is currently on-loan at Stanley from Colchester United, suffered an injury in their midweek Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie with Tranmere Rovers, sparking initial fears that he may have broken his neck. The match was subsequently abandoned and the teenager was rushed to hospital. Thankfully, it has materialised that the young player has ‘only’ suffered severe concussion and will be able to continue playing football in the future.
Just for arguments sake though, let’s imagine that Tom Bender’s career had come to an abrupt end on Tuesday night. At 18 years of age and (with no disrespect to his employers) not exactly a top end salary to fall back on, the Welsh Under-21 starlet would have been looking at a life altering career change. The football world’s thoughts were with the young man during the week, and I guess he didn’t expect to be trending on twitter so early in his career!
Bender could have attempted to go down the route of former Glasgow Rangers youngster Craig McShea, who you may remember attempted to sue Hibernian FC for £1million in damages. This came after a challenge from one of their players broke his leg and effectively ended his career. Needless to say, McShea is still waiting for his big pay day!
The moral of the story then, the footballing industry is a risk and reward business. Guys like Lampard at the top end could break a leg tomorrow and it would have little impact on their future financial life. As for Tom Bender, who knows, maybe he will still be the future of football, but he came ‘oh so close’ to joining the rest of us mere mortals working in the ‘real’ world. And Craig McShea – good luck in court … if you get that far, that is!
P.S. Have you heard of Michail Osinov? Didn’t think as much. Well, here he is scoring the fastest goal ever recorded, in just 2.7 seconds. 35 year old Osinov, who plays for FC MITOS Novocherskaas in Russia, later joked that he expects an English Premier League side to sign him now.