British

Australian Open 2016, British success.

Johanna Konta has continued her remarkable run of form and has reached the semi finals of the Australian Open by beating China’s Zhang Shuia.

Andy Murray also had success in the quarter finals beating David Ferrer, to reach his 6th Australian Open semi final.

It has taken 39 years for two Britons to reach this stage of the competition. Sue Barker (semi finalist) and John Lloyd (runners up) were the last British tennis players to do so.

Good Luck Andy and Jo!

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British Association Football

History comes to life today in Scotland and England as 4 teams battle it out to win their respective national football tournament. 

The Scottish Cup was first held in 1873.  The trophy presented to the winner of the competition is the oldest in association football and the oldest national trophy in the world. The first team to win the Scottish cup was Queen’s Park in March 1874.

The first ever Scottish cup game was won by Kilmarnock, who beat opposition Renton 2 – 0.

The most successful club in this competition is Celtic, who have won the worlds oldest trophy 36 times.

The Football Association Challenge Cup ( commonly known as the FA cup ) is the oldest association football tournament in the world. The inaugural tournament was held in 1971.

Arsenal were the winners of the 1971 tournament.

Arsenal and Manchester United are joint leaders of the record number of tournament wins. Both sides have 11 FA Cup wins to their name.

PAULA RADCLIFFE – Simply the Best!

Virgin Money London Marathon Preview Press ConferencesTomorrow morning Paula Radcliffe, aged 41, will run her final competitive marathon at the scene of her greatest triumph as a long distance runner.

The Virgin Money London Marathon will be host to Radcliffe’s final act. It is the stage where in 2003 Radcliffe set the women’s record time at 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds. This is seen as one of the most imposing records in world athletics.

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Unfortunately Radcliffe has been forced to bow out of elite competition due to a recurring injury in her left foot however the legacy she has made leaves much to commemorate.

Paula Radcliffe has been a stand out figure in the fight against doping in elite sport. A year before her quite remarkable record beating run, the British athlete asked the International Association of Athletics Federations to increase the frequency of her doping tests.

Radcliffe’s physiotherapist, Gerard Hartmann, even insisted that Radcliffe would meticulously check her water bottles pre race to check that the bottles had not been contaminated without her knowing.

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Paula Radcliffe has been an outstanding British athlete; there is no one quite like her.

Radcliffe has won the London marathon 3 times in 2002, 2003 and 2005. She has done the same in New York in 2004, 2007 and 2008 also winning the Chicago marathon in 2002.

This great athlete has represented her nation in several international competitions including the European championships, World championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games.

Sebastian Coe, the man behind the success of the London 2012 Olympic Games, has commented that Radcliffe is a pioneer of women’s sport and has made an impact on wider society, he said:

“She gave women permission to feel they could go out and run and be part of the London Marathon….A generation of runners, male and female, have taken up the sport because of Paula Radcliffe.”

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Radcliffe’s athletic success was testament to her tremendous fitness levels and unique tolerance for pain.

At the age of 17, sports scientist Andrew Jones discovered that a young Radcliffe possessed an unbelievable capacity for oxygen. Radcliffe, at such a tender age, had a VO2 max of 70. This is the highest of any female athlete. (VO2 Max = the maximum volume of oxygen an athlete can use)

Radcliffe was known to run, on average, a staggering 140 to 150 miles a week; running for hours on end in the morning and again in the afternoon.

A magnificent trainer, who pushed herself to the absolute limit, Radcliffe would refuse to simply step off the treadmill. Paula’s sport scientist, Andrew Jones said:

“When we are testing on the treadmill we ask people to tell us when they feel they have about a minute left to run,”

Jones continues….

“Paula would be clearly as exhausted as most athletes ever get but would signal she wanted to keep going. And this would keep going and going. She would rather have gone off the back of the treadmill than be stopped. She would push herself beyond what seemed possible.”

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Radcliffe would peak at the 2003 London Marathon, that day would be her golden moment in time.

Had things gone differently at the summer Olympic Games in Athens the following year Radcliffe believes herself that she would have broke her record.

Athens proved to be a difficult time for the British athlete. Prior to the competition Radcliffe was seen as the favourite to win gold in the women’s marathon. Three weeks before the competition Radcliffe was in the best form of her life. Coach and husband Gary Lough said:

“Three weeks before Athens she ran a tempo run of 24.4 miles in 2hr 15min at altitude,”

Lough continued…

“That was better than a similar run she had done before London. We knew she was in 2:13.45 to 2:14.10 form. She was in unbelievable shape, the peak of her career. That was when the rose had fully blossomed – and then she got injured.”

A freak accident would prevent Radcliffe competing to her full potential at the event in 2004. While out for a jog, a stone hit by a passing car fired into the knee of the athlete which caused a ‘clot and abscess’, and for two weeks Radcliffe was out of action.

Pumped with anti-inflammatorys her body was unable to metabolise food, leading to dehydration and white coloured bowel movements. Despite this, Radcliffe ran on but had to stop 22 miles into the race.

The British press branded Radcliffe a failure and a choker, unaware of her injury. Still most of this flack has continued to this day.

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Tomorrow morning on her return to the London Marathon, Radcliffe aims not to break her record but to run the race in under 3 hours, and to do so would be a huge send off and thank you to the fans and to the sport that she loves.

As an 11 year old girl visiting the marathon, a young Radcliffe was mesmerised by the performance of Norwegian runner, Ingrid Kristiansen. Since becoming a huge sporting success Radcliffe has commented on the inspiration she experienced that day saying:
“It broke down any barriers I had in my head….I thought: why can’t I be in there running and being competitive too?”

Perhaps tomorrow, that kid in the crowd will also say “Why not me?”

“WE COULD HAVE HAD TEN” – THE WEMBLEY WIZARDS, 1928

ON THIS DAY:

31st March 1928. Some 87 years ago, Scotland played England in the British Home Championship at a packed Wembley Stadium (80, 868).

Scotland in their previous two fixtures had lost 1 – 0 to Northern Ireland, and drew 2 – 2 with Wales. England also failed to get off to a successful start losing to both Northern Ireland and Wales.

Despite Scotland being a point ahead of the ‘Auld Enemy’, the Scots still feared they would finish bottom of the table facing the challenge of beating England, the previous winners of the British Home Championship, on home soil.

If the thought of facing the previous winners wasn’t fearful enough, the team selection certainly was. Left out of the 11 man squad were Davie Meiklejohn (Rangers FC, 409 app), Jimmy McGrory (Celtic FC, 378 app and 395 goals), Bob McPhail (Rangers FC – record of 230 goals only to be beaten by Ally McCoist in 1997) and Willie McStay (Celtic FC, 4 League titles and 3 Scottish Cups).

These players were considered as HOME SCOTS, players who were Scottish who played in the Scottish Football League.

The players that were favoured were the ANGLO SCOTS, Scottish players who played their football around other parts of Britain.

In place of the HOME SCOTS were 8 Football League players. One of which was Tom ‘Tiny’ Bradshaw who would be making his Scotland debut at Wembley against the famous Dixie Deans.

Dixie made 399 appearances for Everton, scoring 349 goals.

Scotland, inevitably, were deemed NO MATCH FOR ENGLAND!

That was until the rain.

Scotland’s captain, Jimmy McMullan, took his team for a talk the night before the game. He famously said:

“The President wants us to discuss football but you all know what’s expected of you tomorrow. All I’ve got to say is, go to your bed, put your head on your pillow and pray for rain.”

It did nae rain but it POURED!!

The rain was always going to favour the small Scots who could easily twist and turn away from the tall men of England.

3 minutes!! 3 minutes in and the Scots had taken the lead with an Alex Jackson header.

Just before half time and the Scots went 2 – 0 up through an Alex James left footed shot.

You wouldn’t believe what you were seeing.

This was never meant to happen. Every pundit in the world would have put their granny on England to win!

Even the Scottish fans! In fact some of them probably did.

Jackson grabbed his second on the 65th minute, as did James in the 74th minute, and Jackson rounded off the hat trick in the 85th.

England would end the game with a mere consolation goal.

The game would finish 5 – 1 to the Scots. The Wembley Wizards had been born.

Sadly this great team would never play together again and for Tony Bradshaw, despite keeping Everton’s son Dixie Deans at bay, it would be his only cap for Scotland.

These players will forever go down in history as giving one of Scottish Footballs greatest ever performances in the dark blue. It was one of thee most remarkable victories of its time, and 87 years on it remains one of the Scots best victories against England.

The 1928 Wembley Wizards:

Jack Harkness (Queens Park)
James Nelson (Cardiff City)
Tommy Law (Chelsea)
Jimmy Gibson (Aston Villa)
Tom Bradshaw (Bury)
Jimmy McMullan (Manchester City) CAPTAIN
Alex Jackson (Huddersfield Town)
James Dunn (Hibernian)
Hughie Gallagher (Newcastle United)
Alex James (Preston North End)
Alan Morton (Rangers FC)

REMEMBER THE NAME. REMEBER THE HEROES.

“Scotland, Bonnie Scotland – Forever”