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Dublin: 9°C Wednesday 12 May 2021

George Best's time in Cork and the Louis Van Gaal dossier; the week's best sportswriting

Also, how Ferguson’s high school American football team are coping amidst the chaos.

The Sports Illustrated cover this week is a beauty.
The Sports Illustrated cover this week is a beauty.

1. “The best way of examining van Gaal may be through the prism of systems: how he built them, how they worked, what happened when people resisted. As he plots his first Premier League campaign as manager of Manchester United, he is as likely to fail as he is to succeed. But whether his reign ends in triumph or disaster, there will be few more compelling characters anywhere in English football than Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal: bold, belligerent, brilliant, arrogant, unpredictable, and (as we’re about to find out) occasionally prone to getting his testicles out in front of strangers.”

Jonathan Liew of The Telegraph examines the legacy that Louis Van Gaal left at Ajax, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich. Anyone with an interest in Van Gaal’s career will love the detail given by Liew.

2. “By rule the McCluer High School football team, like all others in Missouri, must have 14 days of practices before it can play its first game, which is scheduled for Friday. The location is still to be determined, because the Ferguson-Florissant School District has cancelled school for the rest of the week. Through the eyes one of the most unique football teams at this moment in America, we hope to understand a city’s conflicted past, its tumultuous present and its uncertain future, and what it all means for the people of Ferguson.”

The US city of Ferguson in Missouri has been in the spotlight recently after an unarmed teenager was shot and killed by police. Sports Illustrated took a look at the local high school football team, and how they are trying to persevere through the chaos.

3. “Cork’s offer of £1,000 per match must have been a shining light for Best, who was struggling financially in late 1975. He had been attempting to sort his life out at a recovery clinic while paying the bills by turning out for Stockport County’s home games in the Fourth Division. Best was set to make his League of Ireland debut against Drogheda United on 28 December 1975. In expectation of a big crowd, officials moved the game to the much larger Flower Lodge venue and the people of Cork did not disappoint. An estimated 12,500 fans turned out, with the club receiving over £6,000 in gate receipts.”

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The Guardian took a look back at George Best’s brief but memorable stint with Cork Celtic in the mid 70s.

4. “When the likes of McGregor, Seery, Cathal Pendred and Fields left the Cage Warriors ranks many believed that the promotion would suffer to no end, especially in Ireland. The evidence that Duffy, Redmond, Lobov and Young put forward on Saturday night would convince the most ignorant of sceptics of the contrary. They could be the next exports from the Irish scene to grace the Octagon.”

On the back of Conor McGregor’s succesful fight at the O2, spent an evening at the Helix with the national promotion, Cage Warriors.

5. “On the “My Favorite Annual Summer Traditions” scale, the National Sports Collectors Convention ranks somewhere between the Fourth of July and Sharknado for me. But after hitting four of the last five conventions and posting colossal photo essays from 2009 and 2011, I needed a different wrinkle for 2014. And that wrinkle was named Rembert Browne.”

ESPN’s Bill Simmons and his colleague Rembert Browne put together a huge photo diary of their trip to the National Sports Collectors Convention, also known as heaven to fans interested in sports memorabilia. Fans of American sports will enjoy some of the vintage material on show.


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