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The other Irish cricketer who captained England and the rest of the week’s best sportswriting

Also featuring the weird world of footballing memorabilia.

Journalists in the press box (file pic).
Journalists in the press box (file pic).
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

1. Timothy Carew O’Brien, who was born in 1861 on Upper Baggot Street close to Lansdowne Road, was a fiery, passionate character who shares the same red hair as Morgan. Captaining England – and Ireland – at cricket was almost the least extraordinary episode of a colourful life.

The O’Brien family was wealthy – Tim’s grandfather was the Lord mayor of Dublin who organised Queen Victoria’s visit to the city in 1849, which earned him a baronetcy. He was a Liberal MP and, as a notorious short-measuring publican, immortalised in Ulysses as Sir Timothy of the Battered Naggin.

Told on the back of Eoin Morgan’s recent much-publicised promotion, Gerard Siggins’ piece in The Guardian about another Irishman who captained England is a fascinating read.

2. A decade and a half. That Chris Conte’s tolerance.

That is the amount of breathing and blood pumping the Chicago Bears safety is willing to forfeit for the sake of being on an NFL roster. His candor with Chicago’s WBBM radio prior to Monday night’s game against the New Orleans Saints — one for which Conte did not dress due to injury — was surprisingly blunt and goes against every natural self-preservation instinct in the human condition.

Whatever his reason, the fourth-year player out of Cal has chosen to stake territory on a particularly slippery slope of real estate. Normally, professional athletes — football players, especially, and faceless, assassin-like defensive backs even more so — are tacitly asked to do their jobs without waxing philosophical about their existence as modern-day gladiators for entertainment. When one of their kind breaks ranks, so to speak, and shows that he thinks for himself and is self-aware, pearls are clutched and opinions are tweeted and columned.

This piece on Medium.com gives some illuminating insights into the bittersweet life of an NFL star.

3. As New York Giants rookie Odell Beckham Jr. has become one of the league’s top wide receivers this season—both because of his statistics and his otherworldly one-handed catch last month against the Dallas Cowboys—he has given credit to his soccer upbringing. He said that as a teenager, he was considered a top soccer prospect. (He recently speculated he would have turned into a Cristiano Ronaldo-type of player, which may be pushing it.)

Eventually he chose football. But his foundation in both sports confirmed that if you’re going to play another sport these days, it ought to be soccer.

Kevin Clark of The Wall Street Journal looks at how soccer is reshaping the NFL.

4. Saturday’s Guardian, in which my colleague Hilary Osborne unearthed a Boots catalogue from 1982 showing that a Ferguson video recorder cost £599 – or £1,863 at 2014 prices – brought memories scampering back. It also provided an excuse to crawl into the mustiest corners of my attic and dig through yellowing magazines to see how the price of football, from ticket prices to tat, has changed.

That Subbuteo edition, with Brazil’s brooding Nelinho on the box lid, £28.95. Which, given the Office for National Statistics confirms that prices are 3.11 times higher now than in Christmas 1982 (when adjusted for inflation as measured by the retail prices index) equates to £90 today.

The Guardian’s Sean Ingle looks at the weird world of football memorobilia back in 1982.

5. Cheating and playacting is going to a new level, particularly at the breakdowns. Players make a tackle and occasionally get swung round into the wrong position.

Historically, anyone on the wrong side of the ball was usually trying to slow it down. Even in today’s more watched world, players try to steal the ball as the tackler, and if they get buried in the ruck they try to remove themselves slowly and still slow the attacking side down. Referees are pretty strong on this.

Writing in the Telegraph, Will Greenwood is concerned by the increasing levels of cheating in rugby.

Ireland can win World Cup – Paul O’Connell>

Remember Adriano? Well, he’s back and will be playing in the French second tier>

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