Day: July 14, 2011

The 2011 Women’s World Cup: The Semi-Finals

With seventeen minutes left in the France/USA semi-final, Eurosport analyst Emma Hayes was asked if the game, already a classic, was going to extra-time. “We’re going to extra-time,” she declared, “unless someone puts a good ball in and Abby (Wambach, USA’s combative centre-forward) gets on the end of it.” This was an ‘interesting’ comment. France had come from a goal down to level at 1-1 and considerably dominated the second half. Yet Hayes didn’t even contemplate another French goal. It was, I thought, more of Hayes’ excruciatingly pro-US commentary, more of the Eurosport unprofessionalism and lack of dispassion to which Jen O’Neill confessed after her US quarter-final commentary. It turned out to be precisely why Hayes is working as an analyst on international television at one of the most important tournaments in world football, and why I’m sat at home with a bottle of diet Tizer and a packet of digestives, watching it on the box. Even without Hayes’ prompting, the Americans had an aura of invincibility about them in this match. They may only have reached the French penalty area every twenty minutes. Yet each time they did, a goal looked on, whereas the French usually shot from distance, either at US keeper Hope Solo or Row S behind the goal. With this, Hayes informed us, Solo was quite happy. So that must have been a broad grin...

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Seasons Of Mist & Mellow Fruitfulness: Swansea City & The Premier League

The fixtures are out and the pre-season friendlies have started. This is a time of year for unbridled optimism and Swansea City supporter David James can look forward to his team’s first appearance in the top division of the game since 1983. They’ve had quite a journey to get back there, though. A team that isn’t from England in the English Premier League? Whats that, I hear you say? For those readers from around the world who may not be versed in UK geography, there will be a very special team playing in the English Premier League next season, for the first time since its inception in 1992. Already, the press have been lapping this angle of the Swansea story up and we can expect a lot more of it during the nine months after we kick off next month. Editors, website owners and television editors have probably already got their “Singing In The Valleys” headlines written. We tend to view these cliches for what they are, and such mild annoyance is a minor irritant in comparison with opportunity of a shot at the big time. Supporting Swansea City hasn’t always easy over the years. Our rivalry with Cardiff City speaks for itself, but the Swans even have considerable competition within our own city. Rugby continues to rule the roost in much of our part of the world, and...

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