The Wheel of Sportune is back to look over an Easter weekend packed with sporting incident. Where will the fickle arrow of fate land today?
Sunderland AFC – A lacklustre weekend performance, characteristic of the inertia that has come to define recent exploits, was enough for the Sunderland board to decide that Martin O’Neill’s tenure at the club was over. Paolo Di Canio is the man charged with turning around the club’s fortunes, and his appointment can only be a positive move – precisely what such a static, leaderless team needs is an arsenal of rockets, primed to explode, positioned close to their backsides. It is also worth remembering that Di Canio is more than simply the loose cannon that the media portrays. Former chairman at Swindon Jeremy Wray has backed the appointment, describing the galvanising effect that the award-winning Italian had on the town.
Two further points to consider – firstly, is the media’s interest in Di Canio’s politics now (after conveniently ignoring it at Swindon) more about self-aggrandisement than the issue itself? Finally, is the departure of £125,000 per annum, 15 day a year, non-executive director David Milliband such a loss?
Tunbridge Wells FC/Spennymoor Town FC – When respective captains Jason Bourne and Daniel Moore lead their sides for the FA Vase final on May 4th it will be the realisation of the ultimate boyhood dream. These two National League Tier 5 teams (the Conference is Tier 1) will be playing at Wembley. The respective victors of Saturday’s semi-finals are more used to playing in front of 90 people than the 90,000 capacity of the national stadium and many play on a Sunday morning, working during the weeks – a far cry from the “detailed pre-planned training and medical programme” of certain others.
Oxford University Boat Club – In a race thankfully lacking in disruption, the heavier Oxford crew pounded their Cambridge counterparts into submission around the long Surrey bend. The real victory, however, was for the Boat Club as a whole, with the Dark Blues also picking victories in the Isis/Goldie reserve race, the Women’s Boat Race and reserve race, plus the men’s and women’s lightweight races. As ever, Clare Balding’s sublime presenting helped broaden the appeal of a race easily sneered at and create an old-fashioned, family-gathered-around-the-tv occasion.
Tony Bellew – Before the WBC light-heavyweight title eliminator against Isaac Chilemba, Bellew had described the fight as a “must-win”. At 30, the Liverpudlian is not getting any younger, and whilst he still has a good few fight left in him, Saturday’s draw puts him no closer to attaining the match-up with 175lb champion Chad Dawson he so desires. In front of a home crowd of 10,000 at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, Bellew started positively before becoming more conservative, believing the fight would be awarded to him on points. An enraged reaction as the result was read out was probably borne from self-reproach after a fight that should have been Bellew’s.
Peter Sagan – Sagan, a talented young road racer with a big future ahead, finished second in Saturday’s Tour of Flanders, but it was his actions after the event which caused a stir. The Slovakian, 23, finished behind 2008 Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara and crowned his achievement by pinching the bottom of a podium girl who was posing with the victor. Twitter went into a frenzy and more rational types were also unamused, with the Guardian’s Matt Seaton making a compelling case for the removal of such sexist ‘trophies’. In a sporting world abundant with sanitised interviews and bland stars personality should be encouraged. Sexism should not.
Kevin Ware – If 20 year old Louisville University basketball player Kevin Ware had made his attempted block it might have got 100 YouTube views at a push. But he didn’t, and over 100,000 people watched the clip in less than a day after Ware crashed to the flaw, resulting in a truly horrendous leg fracture. Fellow players and coaches wept and feel to the floor as they saw the injury. There is a happy ending though – Ware’s leg has been reset and he should recover fully.