Five Great Sporting Events to Look Forward to in 2015

2014 was a great year for sports, kicking off when the world was thrilled by the Winter Olympics and then treated to the best Football World Cup in years. All the annual events such as the Six Nations, Wimbledon and the Open provided their usual mix of shocks and excitement, and this year is shaping up to be just as good with the Rugby World Cup and Cricket World Cup taking the limelight while the footballers have a summer off. Here’s a rundown on why five of these events are shaping up to be potential classics in 2015.

Cricket World Cup 2015

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Australia and New Zealand are sharing the 2015 tournament and both will be hoping to wrestle the crown from an impressive Indian team. Semi-finalists in 2011, New Zealand are showing strong form in the build-up and are among the favourites, hoping that familiarity with the climate will provide an advantage over the teams from the subcontinent.

England will be hoping to improve on a narrow quarter final defeat in 2011 but the bookies have them priced well behind the host nations as well as India, South Africa and Sri Lanka who deposed them four years ago.

Rugby World Cup 2015

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On the other side of the world, hosts England will be looking to emulate New Zealand’s success in 2011 by achieving a home triumph against the best the world has to offer. Despite a tricky pool that includes Wales and Australia, England can look forward to playing with home advantage and loud domestic support.

With venues dotted all over England (plus Cardiff) rugby fans can be sure of not being too far from a match, with tickets for the opening matches being very competitively priced to encourage a strong turnout. All games will be broadcast by ITV, but there’s nothing better than being in the stadium!

Champions League Final, Berlin

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With the knockout stages soon to begin, this year’s Champions League final is sure to feature some of the best players in the world if current form is anything to go by. Last year’s winners Real Madrid have been in astonishing form in Spain and would desperately love to add to their record ten European Cup/CL victories, but may well have to contend with Bayern Munich should they manage to get past Manchester City. Chelsea and Arsenal are the remaining British hopefuls in the tournament. Whatever happens, club football’s showcase occasion is always more interesting than watching the paint of the line marker dry!

Wimbledon 2015

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The showcase tournament of world tennis is starting a week later than usual from this year in a bid to allow players a little more time to practice on grass and condition themselves after many months playing on hard surfaces. Recent tournaments have been vintage quality and this year’s field should be as fascinating as ever.

Can veterans Federer and Nadal still rely on their skill to keep them competitive as their bodies increasingly age and suffer niggling injuries? Will Djokovic continue to stake his claim as one of the all-time masters? Or could this be a chance for Murray to claim a second title? Serena Williams will be typically confident in the ladies game, but as ever there’s bound to be an upset somewhere along the line.

102nd Tour de France

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It’s going to take something to compare to the amazing race last year that started in the UK and managed to so successfully excite the British public. What’s for certain is that fans of alpine scenery should be in for a thrill as this year’s race is focussed very much upon mountain stages – seven compared to just one time trial! With over 2000 miles to get through there’s going to be some very tired cyclists come the finish in Paris, but the British cyclists can be assured that those at home will be with them every weary stage.

Freakiest Sporting Accidents

Accidents are no laughing matter, but some of them are just so downright strange and freaky that you can’t help but smile. Here are a few of the freakiest accidents from the world of sport.

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David Beckham stray boot incident

On February 16, 2003, Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t having a very good day. His team lost 0-2 at home to Arsenal in a fraught FA cup tie causing Sir Alex to be in a particularly foul mood when he stormed into the dressing room after the match.
He needed to vent a little steam, so he decided to kick the first thing he could see. This happened to be a lone football boot that just happened to be in his path. Unfortunately, the boot he kicked managed to fly straight into the face of David Beckham, one of the most famous footballers of all time. Beckham proceeded to bleed everywhere and the scarring caused huge speculation in the press. Fergie commented later that it was a one in a million shot and he doubted he could’ve repeated it on purpose.

Darius Vassell power drills his feet on purpose

The footballer Darius Vassell had a swollen toe at one point. He decided it would be a good idea to take his foot health into his own hands by getting a power drill and drilling into his toenails. Unfortunately, this was less than helpful and instead he ended up giving himself an infection. Some things you just can’t make up!

Axe injury

An American football coach named Jack Del Rio, decided to bring an axe and some wood to his place of work to give his team encouragement to keep ‘chopping wood’ – an analogy that he used for slowly chipping away at an opponent.
A punter on the team, Chris Hanson, went through the exercise of chopping the wood, but managed to miss the wood and sliced open his leg instead, which caused him to miss an entire year.

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During a match in 2007, a huge gust of wind struck a number of advertising hoardings along the side of the field. These then proceeded to fly through the air like missiles; striking a number of players, causing them to dive out of the way. A number of people were injured during the freak accident and many of them had to be taken off of the field on stretchers.

Baseball player hurts himself arguing

In the U.S, a baseball player named Milton Bradley was vehemently arguing a call that he disagreed with. Whilst wrestling with a teammate to get to the ref he managed to tear his ACL and he was out with an injury during the last week of the season as a result.

These stories prove that it’s hard to be prepared for the random, freakish things that can happen in any sporting event, so the players really do have to be ready for absolutely anything – from out of control signs right the way through to angry people kicking shoes into your face at high velocity!

Sporting Christmas Presents to Buy this Year

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In many ways, shopping for people who love sports has always been relatively easy. Anyone that has an established hobby or interest is going to need supplies. Companies also often release excellent gifts related to sports on a regular basis, so there are plenty of good products available throughout the year. However, it’s always good to go for something a little different than the usual golf balls and football shirts. Here are a few ideas for sporting gifts that you can give this Christmas….

Racing packages

One unique gift you can give is a horse racing package. This will only work well for people who are over 18, of course. You can give a horse racing package to your friends so they can watch the races and pick a horse to have a flutter on. Many of these packages include a guided tour before the racing begins.

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Car driving packages

There are a number of packages out there that allow you to ride a supercar for a couple of laps of a track for a fairly low amount of money. You can also choose what kind of car you would like to try out, including famous machines like the Ferrari 360, or the Nissan GTR.

There are many different locations across the UK for this type of gift so you have a lot of choice in terms of where you want to go. It also means that you probably won’t have to travel too far to get to a location that’s the closest to you. There are also packages that give you the option of having a professional racing driver take you around the track with you in the passenger seat if you really want to see some true speed.

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Football stadium tours

You can visit one of the many football stadiums around for a guided tour of the place including seeing the dressing rooms, the tunnel that the players go down to get to the field, the dugouts where the managers control the game from and so on. The guide will also show you the director’s box as well, so you can see how the powers-that-be view the game.
Tours like these can be found with 2 for 1 deals – which means that you get to go with your friend for no extra charge, bonus!

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Line marker

line marking machineIf you really want to niche down, and you know someone with a big enough garden, one great gift idea is a sports pitch marking machine. This machine will allow your friends to create straight lines on their lawn so they can hold their very own sporting event in the New Year. Overall, it’s a good idea to do a little research ahead of time to ensure that you know what sort of sports and teams your family member or friend is into so you can get them the perfect gift….

Everyone Loves an Underdog

You can meet underdogs in every walk of life; they are the people from whom nobody expects that anything positive will emerge. Very often, such assumptions are proved groundless, and when the underdog ends up on, or close, to the top, everyone is cheering.
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In the world of sport things change rapidly. Whether the game is tennis, golf, cricket or football, it happens time and again that one minute someone is virtually unknown and then the next they’re on their way to becoming a star. The fact is that there is something about the British psyche that loves an underdog, and we love them even more when they do eventually win.

World Cup no-hopers

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Take this year’s World Cup football in Brazil. The line marking was barely dry and the newspapers were already predicting that the small, Latin American country known as Costa Rica would lose. News pundits proclaimed them the worst team out there and, as they would be facing Uruguay, Italy and England, they had absolutely no chance of progressing past the group stage. The journalists had to eat their words, however. Not only were they not the worst team, they made it to the quarter finals, and it was only thanks to the dreaded penalties that the Netherlands managed to beat them.

The football team from this very small country defied all the odds and came very close to the winning line. The underdog defied all the pronouncements and surprised the world with their professionalism. They may have been serious underdogs at the start of the game, but by the end they were winners in a lot of people’s eyes.

Wimbledon wonder

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This year at Wimbledon, and not for the first time, we saw a virtually unknown player arrive from nowhere to take on the champions. Audiences, both at home and at the match, were mesmerised by a young player called Nick Kyrgios. Until June of this year nobody had heard the name of this talented nineteen year old Australian player, yet he trounced former champion – and world class player – Rafael Nadal in four sets. The young, unknown Aussie surprised everybody with his third round grand slam win against the mighty Spaniard.

It was a pity that this particular young underdog got knocked out in the next round by Milos Raonic as his style of play was a joy to watch. It’s still worth watching out for this Australian, however. After all, even Andy Murray had his fair share of failures before becoming Wimbledon champion.

When the underdog becomes top dog

Perhaps the most surprising underdog tale of 2014 was in the game of golf. Scotsman Oliver Wilson, who is thirty four years old, was virtually nowhere in the world rankings – coming in at 792 on the list.

Then, on a chilly Scottish October Sunday, he managed to beat Rory McIlroy by one stroke to claim the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. The British golfer had won his first European title along with a tidy £500,000 prize.

Oliver Wilson, like the other sporting underdogs in this article, proved that, as the old saying goes; every dog has its day…

The Craziest Natural Disasters in Sport

Many sports are risky enough without Mother Nature adding to the drama, yet you’d be surprised by how often extreme weather interrupts a game. Sure you get rain, wind and snow on a regular basis, but natural disasters?   These really up the scale…..

 

Dust Devil Hits Football Pitch

Don’t you just hate it when you’re having a kick about and suddenly a massive dust devil kicks up and blows across the pitch? It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it sure looks scary!

 

Lightning Doesn’t Strike Twice…

This is an absolutely bizarre scenario where lightning appears to strike the pitch while the game is in play. It resulted in several players being seriously affected by the shock and the game being abandoned as a result. Don’t worry though, nobody suffered any serious injuries, only minor burns.

 

SARS in China

In 2003, China was due to host the fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup. However, due to the SARS outbreak that plagued the area FIFA made the decision to move the tournament to the USA. The tournament carried on as usual, however the crowds were very thin on the ground and many games took place in near-empty stadiums.

 

2011 Downhill World Champs

Mountain bikers aren’t afraid of getting a little big muddy, but the 2011 World Champs in Champery featured some very, very wet tracks. Thanks to an unusual amount of rain, the majority of the trails turned into a mix between rivers and mud fests. That didn’t stop Danny Hart from absolutely slaying it though!

 

A Very Wet 2014 Portugal Masters

This year’s Portugal Masters was drawn to a close prematurely after an unprecedented amount of rain fell of the course. The greens were completely saturated, making it impossible for play to continue. They’ll definitely have to get a Bowdry out to remove all the nuisance water and get the green back to some sort of playable condition.

 

England vs. Poland 2012 Rained Off

Another international match that was rained off, this one between England and Poland. While many of the football fans were pretty annoyed with the situation, a couple of the fans took to the pitch to run around in the water sodden pitch.

 

Wind Scored Rugby Penalty

With this kick you’d be forgiven for thinking Contepomi was Australian, after all they did bring us the boomerang! This penalty is a cross between amazing luck and pure awesome – the initial pass goes slightly left, but the wind stops it in its track and sends it right back through the posts. What’s even crazier than that is the ref gave the points – what a world we live in!

Back of the Net! Your Guide to Football’s Most Baffling Cliches

 

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Despite what many sporting luminaries will have you believe, football isn’t a “funny old game”, and nor is it a “game of two halves”. It also isn’t a “matter of a life and death”.

Football is, as these clichés have shown, a game of clichés. Let’s explore some of the best football clichés – and explain exactly what they mean:

“He’s not that sort of player”

Often uttered after a clumsy, if lovable, balding brute has broken someone’s fibula into fourteen pieces. There’s a young Mediterranean lad lying on foreign soil crying for his Mother, Clive. He is that sort of player.

“A forward’s tackle”

Likewise, if a striker has unwittingly snapped someone’s extremity with an ill-timed lunge, this phrase is rolled out to excuse him. Forgive him his sins – he knows not of what he’s doing.

“War chest”

British football, perhaps due to our long-held fascination with the (not-so) glorious Empire – two World Wars and One World Cup and all that – positively drips with military metaphors.

If a chairman hands his manager a few million pounds to spend on a collection of young Mediterranean lads, it’s a “transfer kitty”. Stick a couple of 0s on the budget and that kitty has evolved into a war chest. Woof.

“He’s got a good touch for a big man”

For some reason, in football, it’s absolutely inconceivable that a professional over 6ft3” in height is capable of trapping a ball. You know, basically doing his job. Should a gangly, rangy forward actually possess the enviable ability of kicking a ball well, he will be described as having a “good touch for a big man”– something that’s much harder to do than if you’re 5ft5”, apparently,

“He’s got a great engine”

However, sometimes footballers earn millions and millions of pounds despite not being, er, very good at football. But it’s OK because they have “a great engine” – which means that their legs are fast, their upper torso is strong and their heart pumps blood around their body four times faster than the average. Think Phil Jones, Carlton Palmer or Jermaine Jenas. See also: workhorse.

“There are no easy games at this level”

Used to prevent footballers from becoming overconfident before heading up against a minnow. However this is a misnomer – there really are easy games at most levels.

A few weeks back, non-league side Cheadle Town were beaten 22-0 by the Russian u19 national team. We dare say that was quite an easy game.

Although, as the picture shows, during the 33rd and 38th minute, Cheadle really had those Russians on the ropes….

“Six of one, half a dozen of the other”

It may sound like a Lindsay Lohan flick before she went mental, but this cliché describes a coming together of two players. Neither comes out of it smelling of roses, but it’s tough to say who was particularly more catty and undignified than the other.

What’re your favourite footballing cliches?

Get your ideas ‘in the mixer’ – let us know in ‘the hole’ below the ‘corridor of uncertainty’ below!

Superheroes and Sports: What would really happen?

Have you ever wondered what would happen if superheroes really existed? We do, constantly. But we don’t imagine them saving the world or anything as mundane as that. No, we want to know just how kick-ass they would be playing sports! Here are just a few ideas of how awesome superheroes would be at sports:

The Flash

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Usain Bolt who? Wally West, or the Flash as he’s better known, can run at 13 trillion times the speed of light. That’s insanely fast – he’d do the 100m sprint in less than a fraction of a second – Heck, he’d do a marathon in roughly 0.0001 of a second! The Flash would be too fast to even record when it comes to running, but this superpower wouldn’t only make him a great athlete, he’d be epic in any sport that requires quick movement and reflexes.

Superman

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Unless there is a significant amount of kryptonite around, there really is nothing that could stop Superman from being the greatest of all time. He could win a boxing tournament without throwing a single punch, simply waiting till the other guy gets tired then literally blow him over. The only person he’s likely to lose to in a race is the Flash, but Superman can fly – that means he can cheat, a lot… although is it cheating if there are no rules against it yet?

Aquaman

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Sadly, Aquaman would be useless playing pretty much any sport that isn’t water – which is a lot of sports. However, the guy would be incredible in all swimming competitions and games like water polo. So, overall, not a great person to have on your football or rugby team.

Batman

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Want someone who is a clever player? Batman is the Superhero you’re looking for. Bruce Wayne puts in lots of hard work and delivers time and time again with well concocted plans. Thanks to his peak human abilities make him a natural athlete and the Dark Knight would make an amazing gymnast, weight lifter, rugby player, footballer or even snooker player with controlled strength, intelligence and foresight.

Black Widow

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Another superhero with peak human abilities and ridiculous marksmanship, the Black Widow would dominate any shooting competition and would be extra special at combat, gymnastics and even running. She is not someone who we would want to have to go against in any sport!

Wolverine

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He may be awesome and able to regenerate from serious bodily harm, but that doesn’t mean he would be a good sportsperson. No sport requires you to recover from wounds quickly or flash your sharp metal claws to scare the opposition, so he’s lost his key advantages here. He isn’t particularly quick so again, no advantage there – best to leave Wolverine on the bench for later.

Ironman

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Tony Stark isn’t particularly impressive, but as Ironman he’s amazing. He can lift more weight, move faster and run for longer, unfortunately we are pretty sure that an exoskeleton isn’t legal in any sport that’s been created thus far.

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Talking about exoskeletons and other machines, the Transformers wouldn’t be very good either. That is unless you want to cheat and have the line marking machine change the lines to give you an advantage or have a rouge car burst onto the pitch. Again, these are some superheroes who are best not playing sport.

The Hulk

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Similar to Superman, the Hulk (Not the one that plays football for Brazil!) has fantastic strength and would dominate any sport that requires physical power. Finesse however, would let Eric Banner down, making most ball games impossible for him to compete in. Additionally, it is probably not a good idea for him to be in direct competition with others as this could be a huge safety concern – especially when he’s angry!

So that’s how we figure these superheroes would fair at playing sports, what do you reckon? Who do you think would be awesome at some sport or game that we’ve missed out?