Sport

BLAUGRANA – Messi, Suarez and Neymar score a century! (Viel Glück Bayern München)

HISTORY HAS BEEN MADE TONIGHT AT THE NOU CAMP!!!

After a 6 – 0 win over Getafe arguably one of the greatest strike forces of all time, dMSNespite their short time together, surpassed the 100 goal tally for the season.

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar de Silver Santos Junior all scored tonight to reach the tally within 30 minutes of kick off.

Messi scored the opening goal from the penalty spot, and then Suarez doubled Barcelona’s lead on 25 minutes with a neat volley. Three minutes later Neymar joined the party, as the three amigos put on a show for the home crowd. Xavi scored the fourth goal on this his 501st appearance for his boyhood club.

Suarez scored his second just before half time, and the magnificent Lionel Messi ended proceedings with his second goal of the night. This victory leaves Barcelona leading the La Liga table 5 points ahead of rivals Real Madrid, who play on Wednesday night against Almeria. Barcelona look on course to regain their first La Liga title in three years.

MSN (Messi, Suarez, Neymar) have now scored a collective tally of 102 goals in all competition. This record has surpassed the previous 99 goal tally set by Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi during the 2008 – 2009 season.

Last season Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale came oh so close to beating the record set in 2008 with 97 goals, but unfortunately it was not enough and it will take something very special to beat the record 102 goals set by this exceptionally talented Blaugrana strikeforce.

102 goals and counting!

Viel Glück Bayern München! (Good luck Bayern Munich)

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?”

Sabermetrics – Oakland Athletics and Moneyball

It’s THROWBACK THURSDAY so here is a little story all the way from the city of Oakland in the state of California, USA.

In there 2002 season the Oakland Athletics, and their then General Manager Billy Beane changed the world of sports and professional baseball forever.

By the year 2001, Billy Beane had been Oakland’s GM for four years and the club had a very limited budget in contrast to bigger franchise teams.

Oakland were working on a budget of $39,000,000 while the richest team the New York Yankees enjoyed a budget of $130,000,000.

During the off-season Beane and Oakland lost three of their key players: Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Jason Isringhausen. It was Billy’s job to turn what he believed was an unfair game into a fairer one, and so he, along with his assistant Paul DePodesta, used a roster selection system based on mathematics and science using statistical data, commonly known as sabermetrics created by Bill James.

Bill James, on paper, is a baseball writer, historian, and statistician, each year producing an annual abstract of Major League baseball statistics.

In reality though, Bill James is the man who challenged the entire American baseball industry.And in the 2002 season, many would say that he won.

That season the Oakland Athletics went on a 20 game winning streak. In the realms of baseball, this is unheard of, and on a $39,000,000 budget it was something of a miracle.

‘Moneyball’ was taking the sport to greater places.

Oakland lost the division series that year to the Minnesota Twins, the team who also ended their 20 win game streak, however following the success of sabermetrics the New York Mets, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays have hired full-time sabermetric analysts.

Many in baseball will never accept the premise of ‘Moneyball’, and value only traditional methods of scouting and selection.

However, it is very clear given the success of the 2002 Oakland Athletics on such a small budget and the impact that the system has had on teams that possess great wealth that baseball was changed forever.

Thanks to Bill James, Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta an unfair game was made that bit fairer.

Video below of the 20 game winning streak. I realise it’s long but for sheer entertainment value and one of the greatest American sporting moments you will ever witness watch the final game on 23:30. One of the greatest come backs in sports history, and one of thee greatest and harshest wins. A golden sporting moment.

“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”