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'Last year I divorced my football team' - The week's best sportswriting

Stick the kettle on, there…

1. “Last year I divorced my football team. After 38 years of a few ups and mostly downs I let go of Crewe Alexandra.

“I was not a casual fan. I was obsessed. I was proud of the miracle that transformed the perennial laughing stock into everyone’s second-favourite team. Ours was a story that celebrated everything that was right in the beautiful game. In a world of multimillionaire players, oligarch owners and fickle fans Crewe Alex were the beacon of hope: a club with a fabled reputation for nurturing local talent and playing a style of football that was a purist’s dream.”

Lifelong Crewe Alexandra fan Adam Breeze on why he has had to turn his back on the club.

2. “On March 4, Frances McDormand will sit inside L.A.’s Dolby Theater and learn whether she wins the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. In Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, McDormand plays Mildred, a grieving, irrepressible mother seeking to shame local police into solving her daughter’s murder.”

In Sports Illustrated, the story of how former NBA player Lorenzen Wright’s mother seeks justice.

3. “Steve Griffiths first noticed something was wrong about four years ago. The clues were only little things — putting something down and not being able to remember where, forgetting longstanding appointments — but they were enough to make him worry.

“At first, he and his wife, Heather, wondered if it might be stress. Griffiths ran his own tire business, and that meant long days at work and hours at night worrying about the competition. They thought giving up work might improve his health, so Steve took early retirement. It made no difference.

“For a while, then, they wondered if perhaps he was experiencing the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. His hands shook a little when he talked; his movement was slightly stiff.”

West Brom invites older fans battling dementia to its stadium each week for talks that serve to stir fading memories, and help them escape the loneliness that often accompanies the disease. Rory Smith of The New York Times tells the story.

4. “It was quite a notable shift, and maybe in more ways than one. After sounding so impressively impassioned as he discussed Catalonia’s jailed politicians, Pep Guardiola was suddenly much less sure of himself when asked how he could reconcile these universalist “human” principles with Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi owners and the abuses of human rights in the United Arab Emirates.”

Human rights abuses, questionable sponsors and Trump: how geopolitics are becoming the worrying root of football, by Miguel Delaney

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‘It means a huge amount and hopefully we can step up over the next few weeks and really prove it’

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