Well read
The real Eddie Jones, Jonny Cooper's five-in-a-row relief and more of the week's best sportswriting
Stick on the kettle and settle into some of our favourite reads from this week.

1. This story starts in a self-proclaimed communist utopia, a tiny village in the Andalucían countryside where Che Guevara looks out from the sports ground, Republican flags adorn the town hall and political murals are painted on walls; a small, isolated place with no police where much of the 2,626 population live in identical homes they built themselves and the town’s seal depicts a dove of peace with an olive branch; where they organised raids on supermarkets to feed people, public salaries are equal, collectives work the fields, land confiscated from the aristocracy, and the mayor is fond of Che’s line: only those who dream will someday see their dreams become reality.

spain-soccer-la-liga Joan Monfort Joan Monfort

Which is appropriate, even if this reality wasn’t the dream they had. One hundred and one kilometres east of Seville, Marinaleda is, as the title of Dan Hancox’s fascinating book calls it, the village against the world. The mayor since 1979 is Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, who has the kind of beard you’re supposed to have when you’re a founder of the Collective for Workers’ Unity, an instigator of hunger strikes, and the political leader of a place like this – described as Spain’s Robin Hood – when you’ve been jailed seven times and the target of at least two assassination attempts.

Sid Lowe writes in The Guardian about 16-year-old Barcelona star Ansu Fati

2. The early years of Jack Ferriter’s career had all the achievements a young footballer would want on their CV.

He captained Kerry to the 1994 All-Ireland minor title; a year later, he was Man of the Match as the Kingdom won the All-Ireland under-21 crown; the year after that he was starting National League games and he won another All-Ireland under-21 medal; he won back-to-back Sigerson Cups with IT Tralee in 1998 and 1999.

There’s all that and yet the Dingle man never played a minute of championship football.

“I remember people saying to me, ‘Jesus, you’ll never be broken’,” says Ferriter. The reason: between him lifting the Tom Markham Cup in 1994 and Kerry’s next All-Ireland minor title, 20 years elapsed. It was not until Liam Kearney captained Kerry to the first of their minor five-in-a-row that the bit of trivia about Ferriter could be binned.

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An Ghaeltacht had the honour of naming the 1994 Kerry minor captain but the club had no one on the Kerry panel that year. The next best option was to nominate another West Kerry kid: Jack Ferriter from Dingle.

“Fair play to them, we’d be hammering each other on the field but they gave it to me anyway,” says Ferriter. “We had a strong team and knew we were going to go places.”

And go places they did – with ease. Managed by Charlie Nelligan with Mikey Sheehy, Junior Murphy and future Kerry county board chairman Sean Walsh as selectors, that minor championship title win – Kerry’s first in six years – was a cruise down the motorway.

For PJ Browne recalls the career of Kerry footballer Jack Ferriter.

3. Thanks, Eli. And I know I am speaking for all Giants fans, including the ones who agree that the time has finally come for you to hand the ball over to young Daniel Jones.

There aren’t enough words and my bosses cannot possibly give me enough space to thank you enough for all the memories, for all you did for Wellington Mara’s franchise and for Blue York, for what you have meant to every single person inside and around 1925 Giants Drive whose lives you touched with your class and grace and dignity. Who felt more than a tinge of sadness Tuesday when the news of your passing the torch exploded through the Quest Diagnostics Center.

nfl-sep-15-bills-at-giants Rich Graessle Rich Graessle

If anyone epitomized Once A Giant, Always A Giant, it was you. You will still be wearing your No. 10 every game day, but the sight of you on the sidelines now will be jarring, because we have never seen you on the sidelines for a home game since Nov. 7, 2004, at Giants Stadium, when you watched Kurt Warner.

Writing in The New York Post Steve Serby pays tribute to Eli Manning.

4. They came to run, to talk, to be together at a time when being alone was not an option. They came to honour Craig Lynch the way he would have wanted: by running themselves to exhaustion.

It was a session the Cavan athlete always hated, the last one he had ever done: three sets of three 200-metre repetitions, the kind of pre-season conditioning work that turns adult sprinters into sobbing wrecks and often has their lunches hurtling up on the in-field.

craig-lynch Karel Delvoije / INPHO Karel Delvoije / INPHO / INPHO

It was Monday night in Santry, and 25 of Lynch’s former training partners went chugging around the bend in an otherwise deserted stadium, the peace of a breathless evening broken only by the pitter-patter of their galloping strides and their oxygen-starved wheezing.

Some were still active international athletes, others long since retired, and while their pace varied wildly, the group was united in effort. They would run the way he always had on this track: hard.

For Cathal Dennehy describes how Craig Lynch’s friends came together to honour his memory.

5. It’s getting on for half-nine on Saturday night and down under the Hogan Stand, giddy Dubs are skipping by, hunting for porter. Jack McCaffrey and Diarmuid Connolly disappear into the players’ lounge and return with jar in hand, headed back for the Dublin dressing room. Ciarán Kilkenny and James McCarthy palm us off with smiley ease. “Heading for a pint, lads,” says McCarthy. “See yiz after.”

jonny-cooper-after-the-game James Crombie / INPHO Dublin defender Jonny Cooper at Croke Park. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

The one Dublin player who isn’t fizzing like an over-shook bottle of pop is Jonny Cooper. We catch his eye and ask for a word. To our slight surprise, he says yes without a second’s thought. Throughout the chat, he speaks quietly and intensely, as if part of him is still haunted by his ordeal in the drawn game.

The Irish Times’ Malachy Clerkin speaks to Jonny Copper following Dublin’s fifth consecutive All-Ireland title victory.

6. Three years ago Eddie Jones surprised me for the first of many times. We met to discuss how we would work together on a book which was still a shadowy idea in the autumn of 2016. In those strange early days of our collaboration I was still trying to figure out Jones. I had heard stories about his abrasive coaching style, which had apparently left a trail of players weeping and hiding under tables from Canberra to Tokyo. I had also heard his whiplash quips and spiky insights because, as England coach, Jones’s press conference highlights were never boring.

Jones arrived in England rugby with a bang on 1 December 2015. England were in chaos after being knocked out in the group stages of a World Cup they had just hosted. Jones, who had masterminded the game of the tournament by inspiring Japan to victory over South Africa, replaced Stuart Lancaster as head coach. He achieved his first goals in startling style. England won the 2016 Six Nations grand slam and all three Tests against the Wallabies in his native Australia – and every match of the 13 they played under Jones in his first year in charge.

england-v-italy-international-friendly-st-james-park Richard Sellers Richard Sellers

Amid the praise, Jones overturned the first of my many preconceptions. After he had explained how he prepared his teams, using the example of Japan’s shock defeat of the Springboks, Jones said something totally unexpected: “Mate, until that whistle blows, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Jones had told me how he had changed the culture of Japanese rugby with meticulous detail, and run a training camp to “Beat the Boks” which was as precise as it was ferocious. Yet, suddenly, he revealed that his intricate planning was ultimately shrouded in uncertainty. I was surprised but intrigued.

Writing for The Guardian Donald McRae interviews England head coach Eddie Jones ahead of the Rugby World Cup kicking off this weekend.

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