Tag Archives: soccer

Weekend musing – Tour de France, British Open, Arsene Wenger and England

Chris Barwin HillsI commented last week on a number of topics including the Tour de France, the England soccer team’s poor display in the European Championships and the British Open.

It looks like I was on the money picking Chris Froome as the winner of the race. With 19 stages complete and only a couple to go Froome froome
seems to have the field covered. Great display by Aussie Richie Porte in the tough mountain section but looks like he will just fall short of a podium finish. Certainly looks like a rider to watch for the 2017 Tour.

As much as I was on the money with the Tour de France, I was way off in my assessment of the British Open. I didn’t see Swede, Henrik 1363998228672Stenson winning. Stenson and Phil Mickelson showed a mastery of the Royal Troon course that the rest of the field struggled with. Mickelson at 17 under had an 11 shot buffer between he and the third placed golfer. The leading Australian was world number 1, Jason Day at one over par tied for equal 22nd. My selection of Adam Scott was poor as he finished at 5 over par. Our golfers need to improve their performances in major tournaments!

My suggestion for the English soccer team is to go all out for Arsene Wenger. They could do a lot worse. He is the shot in the arm that thealexis-sanchez-arsenal-burnley_3223813 English need and his time at Arsenal is limited. It would be a good move for England, Arsenal and Wenger.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – AFL bye rounds, European Cup, Tour de France, British Open….

Chris Barwin HillsRound 17 of the AFL season started on Thursday night and these Thursday night games have been aptly called ‘Pie night’ games by Fox Footy. The games are largely only possible due to the bye rounds where only six games are played each round across three weekends. Many people do not like the 6 x 6 x 6 way of having a bye, but in my opinion, I think it is fine. Igunston would rather that method than a complete break in the mid-season. It affords every side a break, there is still a good number of games for each weekend and it allows for the introduction of these Thursday night games which appear to have attracted good crowds and TV ratings. I have heard some in the media saying the bye rounds mean the AFL season loses momentum. I do not agree or see it as a problem. After all, if you think about it, the old VFL competition only had six games a week and we thought that was plenty back then.

The round also started with another Hawthorn escape and I think the Swans would be ruing the three 50 metre penalties which resulted in two goals in a game that was decided by five points. The HANNEBERY50 metre penalties were there, but it is massive penalty for innocuous incidents that had little to no impact on the play. There was also a big disparity in the free kick count, especially up to 3/4 time. The Hawthorn free kicks were probably there, but there were a lot of free kicks not paid to Sydney that should have been paid. Again, in a tight game it makes a difference.

In the Euro Cup, Portugal continued the run of outsiders winning big competitions this year and without a meaningful contribution fromronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo. The highlight of the tournament though still has to be Iceland’s defeat of England. One wonders how such a result could occur when one considers the disparity between the two nations in population and football history. Clearly England need to re-invent themselves if they wish to seriously challenge for major silverware in the future.

froomeThe Tour de France continues on and I must say even with the halfway mark just reached, it looks like Chris Froome will again be in front at the end. He seems a cut above the rest and barring some unfortunate accident he is over the line.

The British Open continues to be a major Championship that eludes Australian golfers even now that we have some of the top golfers inscott the world. Greg Norman ‘was our last winner and that was a very long time ago. I see our best chance with Adam Scott, but I am far from confident that any Aussie will be lifting the claret mug this year.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Moto GP, Jack Miller, AFL local derbies….

Chris Barwin HillsWith Leicester City being the surprise winner of the EPL this year it seems to have started a bit of a trend with some surprising results in sport of the last week. First you had Jack Miller winningjack miller the Dutch Moto Grand Prix at 500/1 and then Iceland beat England in the Euro Cup. Iceland was not as big a surprise as the team is currently ranked 34 in the world, but what an amazing effort for a country with a population similar to the City of Greater Geelong!

In the AFL the local derbies seem to have a lot of traction with the local supporters. The AFL is trying to push the Queensland haw v northand NSW derbies, but what about Tasmania? Both Hawthorn and North Melbourne play in Tassie and yet there is no local derby. The rivalry between Hobart (North) and Launceston (Hawks) is as big a rivalry as any in Australia, but both games this year are in Melbourne. To me this short changes the Tasmanian connection for those two clubs and I think at least one game a year should be held in Tasmania with the venue alternating each year. Good for football and good for Tasmania!

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Muhammad Ali, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Tom Hawkins…..

Chris Barwin HillsThe biggest sports story this week was the passing of Muhammad Ali. Ali was a sporting icon and was voted in one publication as the athlete of the 20th century. He had not fought for 35 years and yet alimy 14 and 22 year old sons knew who he was, I think everyone knew who he was because he was not only a sporting icon, but also a champion of human rights. Ali was a wonderful promoter of the sport of boxing, but also with his 30 year battle with Parkinson’s Disease was also a testament to the dangers of boxing. When I was growing up boxing was a prominent global sport, however, the sport has now lost its way and unfortunately now lost its reatest son.

I read with interest during the week about the likely transfer of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United and Jamie Vardy to Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring for Paris Saint Germain against St Etienne.Arsenal. My feelings here were quite mixed. I thought it would be great to see Ibrahimovic in the EPL even if it is in the twilight of his career as he is still one of the best strikers in the world. However, going to Manchester United gives me no joy at all. With Vardy, I am happy he is considering a move to Arsenal, but equally I would like to see him stick with Leicester City to continue that Cinderella story.

Like most AFL fans I was a little shocked to see Tom Hawkins cop a suspension for his hit on Phil Davis. Yes he hit him in the head, but the degree of force was so minor that Davis threw his head back  tommore in surprise than due to the impact of the strike. If this is the standard of impact that is required for a report why wasn’t Matthew Pavlich reported for slapping Patrick Ambrose in the face on Saturday night! My guess is that Hawkins was carrying an injury and probably needed a week off otherwise they would have challenged the report.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – NAB Rising Star, Christian Petracca, AFL’s ‘rule of the week’, van Gaal out at United……

Chris Barwin HillsThis week sees Melbourne’s Christian Petracca get the Club’s third Rising Star nomination in the first nine rounds which is a great achievement. However, they still have a long way to go to emulate the Greater Western Sydney Giants who had eight nominations during the 2012 season. Putting aside the Giants who were given a leg up by the AFL in this regard with Draft concessions, the next best was five by Essendon in 1993 (a premiership year) and Fremantle in 1996. Then there are eight teams who have had four nominations. petraccaOf those, only Port Adelaide in 1997 and West Coast in 2004 converted their advantage into a premiership and in Port Adelaide’s case it took a further years! Fitzroy had four nominations in 1994 and were out of the competition two years later and Brisbane had four in 2005, the year after their last Grand Final appearance. So having good young talent is not the guaranteed formula for success, but it certainly doesn’t hurt and the Dees had two nominations and the winner last year so they are assembling a good batch of youngsters. It will be interesting to see if they can get any more nominees. I have heard there are some wraps on Sam Weideman so there is a chance they can get to four or maybe more. That being said, the GWS record looks safe for now.

There has been a lot of discussion in AFL circles this week about “rule of the week”. Last week the discussion centred around the deliberate behind with two examples being Lee Spurr from Fremantle and Pierce Hanley from Brisbane. Quite frankly I think both of those should have been penalised even without a “rule of the behindweek” crackdown. Both players had alternatives to rushing a behind and chose to go with the behind and copped the penalty. Neither infringement cost their side the game. If I was to nominate a rule which I think should be tightened up it is incorrect disposal. Once you take possession there are only two ways of disposing of the ball, that is by way of a kick or a handball. Watching the game between Hawthorn and Sydney last week, I noticed that Hawthorn have added a third means of disposing of the ball. Just about every time a Hawthorn player was tackled the ball spilled from the tackle and there was no penalty and no reward for the tackle. Come on AFL tidy this one up please.

As predicted in this column several weeks ago, winning the FA Cup wasn’t enough to save  Manchester United’s coach Louis van Gaal.louis Just a few days after the FA Cup triumph, van Gaal was dumped in favour of Jose Mourinho. There is no doubt the Club has struggled since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. He managed United from 1986 until 2013 bringing plenty of trophies and stability. Since then Mourinho is the third manager in three years. The Club seems to have lost its way and I don’t know that Mourinho is the one to get it back on track. We will see.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – EPL, St Totteringham’s Day, AFL, Essendon faithful, Shot Clock, Jack Gunston

Chris Barwin HillsThe EPL season has now concluded and Leicester City won the crown by a whopping ten points. Arsenal, who by many measures had a disappointing season, sneaked into second spot. The Foxes arsenallost only three games for the season and two of those games were to Arsenal. It just shows that with Arsenal finishing second on the back of a disappointing season, how disappointing the seasons of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United were. Man U has the chance to at least secure some silverware this season in the FA Cup which may also save the job of Louis Van Gaal. One final comment on the EPL and that is Arsenal couldn’t have waited much longer to celebrate St Totteringham’s Day!

It was interesting to see the Bombers get cheered off after an honourable loss last week and a lot of people have suggested that this may have never happened before, however, I was at a game at Windy Hill in the late 1980s or early 1990s when they applauded the team from the ground. Essendon was playing West Coast and watsonsustained about five or more injuries during the game and I remember Michael Long having to go back on the field with a shoulder injury and he may have even had his arm inside his jumper to protect it. West Coast won by a couple of goals and the Bomber faithful were so impressed with the effort in the face of adversity that they were clapped from the ground. I still remember a couple of West Coast supporters jumping up and down when the siren went and then going quiet when the Essendon crowd started clapping their team. After this game Kevin Sheedy embarked on one of his quests to expand the interchange bench which was ultimately successful.

There has been a lot of discussion about the shot clock in the AFL and what they can do to avoid the situation that was faced a couple of weeks ago when Mason Wood iced the clock to ensure North’sfevola victory. The thirty seconds allowed to shoot for goal was introduced to try and force the likes of Brendan Fevola and Matthew Lloyd to not take up too much time preparing to have a shot for goal. I always thought this was a massive over reaction as the umpires have the right to call play on at their discretion anyway. My suggestion would be to do away with the thirty second rule and hand the discretion back to the umpire.

Football players are sought after commodities to promote products gunstonin the media, particularly at this time of the year. Some are cut out for it and some are completely hopeless. Jack Gunston from Hawthorn does a number of radio advertisements and I would suggest he falls into the latter category. His ads are that lame I often turn the radio off so I don’t have to listen to him. Stick to what you are good at Jack.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Chautauqua best sprinter in the world, Leicester City champions and more

Chris Barwin HillsGreat to see Chautauqua salute in Hong Kong last weekend. The horse relies on a powerful finishing burst which can leave him chautauquavulnerable as we found out in the Newmarket Handicap, but there is no doubt that he is the best sprinter in the world at the moment. It is a bit of a shame that he didn’t pull up well enough to go to England to race at Ascot, but I fully appreciate the reasoning behind the decision not to race there.

With Leicester City being crowned the champions of the EPL I was trying to think of similar sporting success stories, but it is hard to come up with anything that comes close to this. Collingwood won the foxeswooden spoon in 1976 and then lost the Grand Final the following year in the replay, but even a win such as that may not have been as monumental. Leicester City faced relegation last year and overcame the odds to win this year and the EPL very much favours the wealthy clubs. What has been lost a bit in the celebrations is that Tottenham were the only side left to put pressure on the Foxes and they are certainly not fixtures in the top four of the EPL. If Leicester City was 5,000-1 to win the League, what price was the quinella?

I have noticed that a number of print journalists are now featured in barrettdifferent AFL football shows, both radio and television and at times I
think that they believe they are the story! One who I think takes himself a bit too seriously and produces a lot of non-stories is Damien Barrett, but he is not alone by any means.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Fremantle Dockers demise, A-League finals fixturing & Alex Rance

Chris Barwin HillsThis time last year the Fremantle Football Club were the only undefeated team in the AFL, this year they are the only team not to win a game. What has happened? One of the reasons is personnel, they are an aging list and some of their key players are injured, but thefyffe main issue looks to be a change of game plan. It would seem they are trying to play more in the Hawthorn style, but unfortunately they don’t have the skill to execute that type of play. Their negative, lock down style of play got them to a Grand Final and save for a bout of stage fright and poor umpiring, they could easily have won that game, why change? I think they should revert to the style of football that made them successful. It may not be pretty, but it worked.

I have also got to have a say about the scheduling in the A-League. Melbourne City were scheduled to play after a five day break and while the best team on the night won the match, the fatigue factor Melb citycertainly influenced the margin. Then you had Brisbane who had played on the previous Friday playing on the Sunday. Why didn’t Brisbane play on the Friday and Melbourne on the Sunday which would have been the fairest outcome. To compound the issue, the grand finalists have also been mismatched by the schedule with Adelaide playing at home on an eight day break playing the Wanderers on a six day break. At least in the AFL each side gets a seven day break leading into the final match of the season. How do you take a competition seriously with scheduling like that for a marquee game? By the way, I don’t care who wins this final.

I know that a lot of other people have commented on Mick Malthouse’s comment that Alex Rance should have been let off by the AFL Match Review Panel on the basis of his good character, but IUnknown-2 could not let it pass without comment. What Rance did may have been out of character, however, he still did it and it was intentional. To excuse someone in that situation would be a total miscarriage of justice. Did it deserve 2 weeks? Maybe one would have been sufficient on the basis of impact/injury, but a suspension was definitely required. Good character may lead to a reduced sentence, but guilt is guilt.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Sportsmen and alcohol, drawn AFL Grand Finals

Chris Barwin HillsI was thinking about Grant Hackett this week and how he now joins a burgeoning list of sportsmen who should refrain from drinking. I understand the incident itself may have been blown out of hackettproportion and has been sensationalised as seems to happen these days to sell papers. Hackett is in good company with the likes of Brendan Fevola, Robert Allenby, David Warner, Mitchell Pearce and any number of rugby league and union players. Most of these people are reasonable types who just don’t seem to be able to handle their grog. There is no doubt they should find other ways to relax!

I must say I think the move to drop the AFL Grand Final replay in the event of a draw was the correct decision. It may have been OK in the old VFL days when teams were all situated in Victoria but now with the national competition, imagine if Brisbane were playing Fremantle drawin the Grand Final and they had to come back the following week. It would be just too difficult. In addition, it would be unfair if a Melbourne based team were playing an interstate team.

What I do not agree with is the pundits who suggest the same should apply to a draw in the regular season games. A draw is an unusual outcome and I agree it does leave everyone a bit flat, but it is a arsenallegitimate result and history does not need to be changed just because some want a winner and a loser at the end of each game. Soccer is the most popular football game in the world and a draw is a common occurrence. Imagine if the same ‘sensibility’ applied to that game?

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Premier League, NAB challenge, NRL

Chris Barwin HillsWith the EPL results this week it would appear that the title race and the race for the top four positions are still up for grabs with seemingly no side in contention performing to expectations. Leicester are still inspurs front and have stretched their lead by a point with a draw and Tottenham and Arsenal wasted great opportunities to make up the ground. We now see Manchester United and West Ham United with a real chance to get the coveted fourth position with Manchester City losing again. The title is there is be taken by the side that gets into a bit of form. The result of this week’s London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal could be crucial in the end result. From a purely unbiased perspective….’Go Gunners’.

I have heard a lot of AFL commentators criticise the teams that have been selected for the NAB Challenge and the standard of the games. What must be remembered is that nothing really hinges on these GCSgames. They are purely practice matches and sides will play how they wish and who they wish. I can appreciate that the media wants more and the AFL always likes to promote the games as being serious, but when it all boils down, it is the pre-season and the expectation that teams will treat them as any more than ‘practice’ is misguided.

The NRL season kicked off last night and it is great to see action on eelsthe field replace all the off field insanity.  For the record books, the Brisbane Broncos knocked off the Parramatta Eels. The Broncos seem like they have picked up where they left off in 2015 and the Eels look like they are in for a long season.

Have a great weekend!