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How football failed a Man United legend and the rest of the week’s best sportswriting

Plus, how a fake All-Star team inspired Ireland to play basketball.

1. THE 74-YEAR-OLD’S POWERS of speech have gone and his decline has been so steep in recent weeks that visiting him is out of the question for all but the close family.

For them, the sorrow is multiplied by a sense that the mainstay of England’s World Cup triumph and Manchester United’s 1968 European Cup has not been afforded the thought and care he might have done by his beloved game, amid the struggle of his fading years.

Most of all, the family thought that football – and particularly the Professional Footballers’ Association – would have shown a commitment within Stiles’ lifetime to complete research on the link between heading a football and degenerative brain disease. Definitive research has not even started.

The Independent’s Ian Herbert looks at how Manchester United and the FA have failed to help the iconic Nobby Stiles after he left football, while the promise of research into the sport’s link to Alzheimer’s and dementia has yet to materialise. 

50 Years Since England Won The World Cup Package Source: PA Wire/PA Images

2. The immediate turnaround in Neptune’s fortunes when Strickland showed up got Neptune management thinking big heading into the offseason in 1981. They decided Cork was ready to host an international hoops tournament.

Thus began the funniest, most absurd, and—for Strickland’s pals on the hardwood back home—most memorable chapter of his tenure with Irish basketball.

The whole story of the inaugural Neptune International Basketball Tournament, scheduled for March 1981 at the Parochial Hall in Cork, seems ripe for cinematic exploitation. Serendipitously, the event got lots of Irish folks to pay attention to basketball like never before. 

Dave McKenna writing for Deadspin details how a fake All-Star team helped Ireland to play basketball.

3. Since first pulling on the navy-colored helmet of the Junípero Serra High Padres as a backup QB on a winless freshman team in the fall of 1991, Brady has completed more than 6,600 passes to at least 120 receivers.

He completed passes to teenage high school teammates who now have their own families, and to teammates at Michigan who are now coaches and entrepreneurs. He completed passes to Patriots teammates who became stars and others who scarcely played at all.

He completed passes to a teammate who went to jail and was released (Reche Caldwell), and to another who went to jail and might never leave (Aaron Hernandez). He completed passes to receivers named Brown, Gray and White; he completed mostly long passes to Randy Moss and mostly short ones to Wes Welker.

Tim Layden in Sports Illustrated highlights the lifelong connection between Tom Brady and his receivers.

4. Something had to change. Just to be out of the spotlight and outside of my comfort zone, be in places where I wasn’t getting looked at.

Because it felt like people were looking at me going, “Is he OK?” They don’t always have to say something, you can just tell by how people are looking at you.

And I don’t need to be reminded of it everyday, because I am thinking of it anyway. But when you walk down the street in Dublin and not a soul knows who you are, you’re just a passing person. And that’s really refreshing.

Speaking to Rip Curl, three-time world surfing champion, Mick Fanning, revisits his past and looks forward to his future in Ireland.

5. Walking from either of Bradford’s train stations to an out-of-town hotel takes you past a flashy new shopping centre that took over 11 years to build after financing issues, but that has had an impact: Over half the units on the city’s main street are empty.

By the time you reach Canal Road, almost every building is an abandoned mill or dilapidated warehouse. The only growth in this part of town is provided by the weeds pushing through cracks in the mortar.

At most points in that 20-minute walk, Valley Parade is in view (it will always be Valley Parade, whatever the sponsorship deals). Bradford City’s stadium, just as with St James’ Park in Newcastle, somehow looks bigger from a distance than up close, perched on top of a hill and watching over the east half of the city. For years, ‘casting a shadow’ might have been a more appropriate description, as the club fell into disrepute and disrepair.

The cliché is that our football clubs are places of refuge, an escape from the rigours of everyday life. But for the city’s Asian community, Bradford City long felt like the opposite. Racist chanting and hooliganism were rife, the tribal element of football fandom allowing abuse to fester. Rather than providing the antidote to social disillusionment, Valley Parade was the epicentre.

Daniel Storey on Football365 examines how Bradford City are working with people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds to encourage them to support their local football club.

Bradford City v Millwall - Sky Bet League One - Coral Windows Stadium Source: Nigel French

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