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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 8 May 2021

The Manchester United Graves Society and the week's best sportswriting

Enjoy some of the week’s best reads.

A general view outside of Old Trafford.
A general view outside of Old Trafford.
Image: Martin Rickett

1.  We have just arrived at Weaste Cemetery, across the River Irwell from the stadium, on a route that was once taken by the players and directors of Real Madrid. But it is not straightforward to find what we are looking for. Salford’s cemeteries are vast places. There have been 332,000 burials in Weaste since it opened in 1857 and the headstones stretch as far as the eye can see, like row after row of broken teeth, until McCartney uses his inner sat-nav to point out one in the distance.

Somebody has been already, making sure this grave looks its best given the significance of the week. The roses are red and white, just as they were when the Real Madrid president, Santiago Bernabeu, brought their team of Puskas, Di Stefano, Gento et al here to pay their respects.

Writing for The Athletic, Daniel Taylor tells the story of the Manchester United Graves Society. (€)

2. One fact of Irish life remains the same — in this country, our leaders are strong with the weak and weak with the strong. Banks are bailed out, Apple don’t have to pay any tax, while we have people living on the streets. Sport isn’t wildly different. Although we have more rain than virtually anyone else in Europe, our sporting infrastructure is almost entirely outdoor-based and centred around The Big Three sports of GAA, soccer, and rugby, while tens of millions are ploughed into sports with powerful lobbies like the greyhound and horseracing industries.

In the wake of the FAI bailout, Kieran Shannon of the Irish Examiner makes the case for a more equitable distribution of sports funding. 

3. You could choose your own country based upon your worldview. There was, “Look how awesome the United States is, because in three years we made America great!” Or you could order up, “Look at how Donald Trump has turned our country into a racist, festering shithole!” Two political ads bookended Super Bowl 54, and they portrayed two visions courtesy of two New York City billionaires, Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg.

The ads represented two stark perspectives that have nestled inside this country: one that is thrilled with the rising stock market as well as the naked bigotry of this administration, and another that believes Trump has dragged this country toward racist autocracy.

Dave Zirin of The Nation pulls no punches in his assessment of Super Bowl LIV…and the United States. 

4. “I’m a physicist. I’ve got a biology and chemistry background. I wanted to be a doctor. So I was shocked when I went to the 1976 Olympics and saw some of the eastern bloc women. They were much more manly than me.

“Then, in the 1980s, more athletes used performance-enhancing drugs because out-of-competition testing did not exist. There was no test for testosterone or growth hormones then. EPO was brand new. So there was unabated use of these drugs all over the world.

“A few athletes spoke up but many made comments out of expediency. It was a dark period in my sport and it’s continued for a long time. It’s finally changing now but I was one of the few who spoke out at the start. People who protest, and do the right thing, usually don’t have anything to gain.”

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Donald McRae meets Edwin Moses. 

5. She moves from the table to where we are waiting on one of the sofas, overlooked by a picture on the wall of another legendary Arsenal goalscorer, Thierry Henry, and another of Patrick Vieira lifting the Premier League trophy. Arsenal Women have won nine league titles since the men’s team last won one in 2004.

Miedema sits upright as Arsenal’s press officer reminds her of what our interview will involve.

“Oh, this sounds fun,” she responds as the laptop is opened and the first goal is shown to her — her first for Arsenal, in October 2017.

The Athletic sits down with Arsenal’s remarkable Vivianne Miedema. (€)

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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