5
Nov

New-found passion: Lessons learned at Emirates Stadium

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LONDON, ENGLAND

Any American over-enthusiasm for my first major Premier League match had to be immediately hidden by the slightly disgruntled grimace one adopts when jammed ear to ear into an Underground train. I had taken a studious approach to dressing — wear all black and then piece together your pitch-side outfit from the team shop when you get to the grounds. I had been joking beforehand that I would go full kit, but figured I’d buy a hat and maybe a shirt. Past experience has proven there is nothing colder than soccer stadiums during the UK in winter, so the extra layers wouldn’t be a burden.

One hour later and many pounds lighter (in money, not weight), I had a hat, three pairs of socks, shorts, a retro jacket and a Cup-font away jersey with my name custom printed on the back. I’ve been trying not to let my head perform the currency conversion ever since, but, hey, I crossed an ocean to get here. Sometimes you gotta let the pence fall where they may.

image   This lad in front of me clearly enjoys Jack Links beef jerky.

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8
Oct

Swedish player causes stir with Pop Idol performance

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Image courtesy of Getty

Chances are you haven’t heard of Kevin Walker but he is causing a bit of a stir in his native Sweden. The 24-year-old midfielder has a day job with second division side GIF Sundsvall, but has dreams of playing on a bigger stage — as a pop star.

Walker is proving to be a smash hit on the Swedish version of Pop Idol, but his appearances have not gone down well with opposing teams. The reason? Channel TV4 owns the rights to both the program AND match broadcasts, and ordered GIF Sundsvall’s game against Assyriska to be moved to a Sunday so that it didn’t clash with Walker’s live performance the day before.

Niklas Klingberg, a midfielder with rival club Degerfors, branded the decision “ridiculous” and Robert Laul, a writer for Swedish sports paper Sportbladet, called the situation “unprecedented in Swedish football history.”

There’s no doubt Walker, whose dad used to play for English side Gillingham between 1977 and 1981, sings like a bird but he’d better watch out on the pitch for those unhappy with being messed around with. Listen to Walker’s audition and see if the decision was worth it:

H/T 101 Great Goals

5
Oct

Cristiano Ronaldo comes up big…again

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Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Real Madrid haven’t had the start to the La Liga season they were hoping to, especially with their blockbuster summer signing of Gareth Bale. Los Blancos have 19 points and sit behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the league table. Sure, it’s not the worst imaginable start, but considering how talented — and expensive — the side is, much more is expected from the club.

When Madrid took on mid-table Levante on Saturday, things started going south for them again. It took a stunning late comeback to secure a 3-2 win, with a very, very late goal from Cristiano Ronaldo:

This is hardly the first time Ronaldo has saved Madrid from dropping points these season:

We love the drama, but Madridistas around the world are probably yearning for a less heart-stopping action in the next few matches.

21
Aug

Manager wakes up from coma after hearing his team won their first match

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Wayne Thorne with wife Mandy (via @BathSport)

A devastating car accident left Larkhall Athletic manager Wayne Thorne in a week-long coma. All it took for him to wake up was his wife uttering those sweet three little words: Honey, we won.

Thorne had just begun his second season in charge of the semi-pro club when, on his way home from his second job as a kitchen fitter, a head-on collision left him with a ruptured artery in his heart, 16 crushed ribs, a punctured lung, a broken sternum, a dislocated and broken hip and pelvis, as well as a fracture below his left knee.

Lucky to be alive, Thorne underwent a series of surgeries that induced a coma. He remained unresponsive for a week, up until his wife and brother let him know the club had won their opening match of the season. Larkham beat Bridport 4-3 after storming back from a 1-3 deficit.

In an interview with The Guardian, Mrs. Thorne added:
"On the first Saturday Larkhall had a game and me and his brother told him the score and he opened his eyes. I know studies have shown that they can hear you and me and his brother truly believe he heard us. It was brilliant to see, because he absolutely loves his football and is so dedicated to Larkhall Athletic.”
Who says sports can’t heal all wounds?

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Thorne (fourth from the bottom right) in Larkhall’s team photo. Image via WAATP
22
May

After winning the Copa Del Rey in dramatic fashion against arch-rivals Real, Atletico Madrid are in Singapore ahead of a charity exhibition match in the country.

So, how would you expect them to train and warm-up for the event? Well, by facing 128 kids in a preparation match, of course!

In the hilarious video, you’ll see Atleti taken to task by over a hundred youngsters. The sight of one of the best strikers in the world, Radamel Falcao, blazing over the bar with a ton of kids surrounding him will certainly stay in the memory!

Image taken from our colleagues at 101 Great Goals