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Arsenal become Muse and the Sunday Game panto: the week's best sportswriting

These are so good you’ll want to read them all in one sitting — but save some for Bank Holiday Monday!
Jun 2nd 2013, 1:29 PM 3,747 0

1. “The game began at a terrific pelt, the referee keeping a close eye on the Irish players lest they steal any of the Wembley turf, the English cocks thrusting forward in numbers. Every man jack in a white shirt gave 110% – 100% for club, 10% for country but this was no night to quibble about statistics. The Irish players looked on Wayne Rooney with envy. He physically embodied all that they were missing, particularly back in the 19th century during the Famine. Michael Carrick was barely noticeable and did nothing of any use whatsoever but that is often the sign of a great player, certainly an English one.”

On When Saturday Comes, the Wingcommander serves up the best report we’ve read on Wednesday night’s Wembley friendly. Enjoy.

2. “There have been times over the years when I’ve watched Joe Brolly come out with some outlandish soundbite on TV and I have cringed. On other occasions I have let a shoe, or the nearest thing to me, fly when Pat Spillane has gone on one of his rants. But I’m wrong to get worked up. Those two lads know what they are doing. They know how to rattle cages, push buttons and ultimately promote their product. And finally, I’m around long enough to realise that we need them in the GAA – for good or bad. It’s taken me a while to get there, though.”

Damien Lawlor on how he came to terms with the pantomime villains of the Sunday Game.

3. “Listening to Muse’s recent output feels like watching Alex Hleb, the talented Belarusian playmaker who had a remarkable tendency to dribble forward promisingly to the edge of the box, and then just when you were expecting a shot, he turned backwards and fell over. Pitchfork’s review of Muse’s latest release describes the band’s sound as ‘technically boastful’, which neatly summarises Arsenal’s playing style.”

How many articles have you read exploring why Arsenal are the Muse of football? None? Then read Michael “Zonal Marking” Cox here.

4. “I am the casual GAA fan and these are my rights, as laid out in the Treoir Oifiguil of the association. I have the right not to remain silent. I have the right to criticise players who’ve spent ten years of their lives preparing for any championship match I attend on summer Sundays when I’m not watching Formula One, tennis or golf. I have the right to call into question their commitment to training and the size of their hearts and testicles when under pressure. I’ve the right to ignore all the evidence that suggests they are the most hard-working generation of sportsmen the association has ever produced.”

As another Championship summer gets underway, Dave Hannigan sets out the manifesto of the casual GAA fan. Brilliantly accurate.

5. “When you crest a hill half a mile from the warehouse, you pause, turn, and notice the quality of the light, how even in the hard, cold days before Christmas, the weak morning sun turns the smokestacks and factories of downtown Rhinelander into friendly things, peaceful and benign. You think about the most beautiful light in the world, the sunrise behind the barn due east of your mother’s house, 65 miles away. No one knows what you think about the quality of light. Few know that you love horses, or that you have plans to breed chickens, or that you long for love, or that you have hardened yourself to never receiving it.”

Seriously injured in a childhood accident, 45-year-old Bret Dunlap discovered running and it changed his life. Steve Friedman of Runner’s World tells his story.

6. “I went downstairs. It was not a pretty picture. Rafa and his assistant, Pako Ayesteran, were sitting on a sofa that they must have had to pull upright themselves. Rafa – the most ordered, controlling man I knew – surrounded by utter chaos, by a scene that screamed out loss of control. There were plates and lampshades everywhere. Rafa looked at me and told me to put some shoes on before I cut my feet on some debris. ‘John Arne Riise has just come to my room to say you attacked him with a golf club,’ Rafa said.”

In an extract from his forthcoming biography, ‘GoodFella’, Craig Bellamy tells the story of the night he infamously attacked John Arne Riise with a golf club.

8 types of runners you’ll meet at a marathon

Unlucky, Bernard! It’s the sporting tweets of the week

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Niall Kelly

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