Dublin: 20°C Tuesday 15 June 2021

Tiger's tale of revenge, more John Delaney and the week's best sportswriting

Chill, and take a read over these.

Tiger's back.
Tiger's back.
Image: David J. Phillip

1. John Delaney loves football; it is his passion; he is passionate about it; his passion for the game is overwhelming. Delaney, like those other gentlemen eventually did, now finds himself in the beleaguered phase of this familiar story arc. The multitudes are massing outside, banging on the door. They’ve had enough, they’ve seen enough. And now he is scratching and biting and kicking to hang onto his post.

Last week he reached that crossroads where you can either hold onto your job, or what’s left of your reputation, but not both. He decided to brazen it out and alienate just about everybody apart from his retinue of yes-men. Flushed out from their lair and into the glare of a parliamentary committee, the moment of truth had arrived. The moment for truth had arrived. A swathe of the population that also loves football was keen to hear what he had to say. And he decided to tell them as little as possible. The self-advertised man of the people told the people nothing. The big fella of the FAI, the leader of an important national organisation, the man with the critical information, became a non-co-operating witness in front of the people’s parliamentary representatives, live on television.

Tommy Conlon enters former FAI CEO John Delaney into the list of Irish bigwigs who sacrificed their better intentions for immediate gains, in a wonderfully written Sunday Independent column.

A fan holds a banner in protest of FAI Executive Vice President John Delaney Fans show their disapproval towards John Delaney at last month's Euro qualifier between Ireland and Georgia. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

2. It was very unusual that Megan would’ve stayed out. We phoned round all her friends and they were saying ‘Megan went home, Megan went home’. Even then, never in a million years did you think anything like this.

But then I remember sitting in the chair looking out the window, towards where the wee car park is, and two police Land Rovers pulled up. At that stage I knew something was up.

It took them half an hour from talking out in the car park to walk the hundred yards to our front door. You just got that feeling in your stomach that something wasn’t right…

Fifteen years after the murder of his sister, former Irish League footballer Stephen McAlorum speaks to The Irish News’ Neil Loughran about the severe impact the loss had on his life, career and what the future holds.

3. He’s a guest of the organisers, Chain Gang Cycling Club, obliging of his time and aura throughout the ride (a 1,500 sell-out). Even after finding a quiet corner, Kelly is still being reverently accosted, firstly by an Italian trio, who produce a pristine PDM cycling jersey.

“Milan-San Remo, catching Argentin coming down the Poggio, I’ll never forget . . .” one of them reminds Kelly, referring to his ninth monumental win, in 1992, when he caught the Italian Moreno Argentin after a fearless descent. It was the last big prize of his 18-year professional career. Kelly, still sharply cut chin and nose, slicked-back hair, head half bowed, signs the jersey and says nothing.

Ian O’Riordan sat down with Seán Kelly in a piece titled – Seán Kelly: Back to the Finestre with the Irish cycling legend.

Seán Kelly Seán Kelly. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

4. It takes Zeinab about 15 hours to travel from Ahvaz to Tehran by train to watch Persepolis, her favourite football club. Since the Islamic revolution of 1979, women have been banned from attending stadium football matches. Despite the ban, female football fans have never given up and have tried different methods to enter stadiums, including disguising themselves as men.

Although they run the risk of being arrested, their passion for football as well as their determination to fight for their rights has kept them going…….

……The Iranian government had by this stage started to show it was willing to compromise over the 40-year ban, and started allowing women into some matches at the Azidi stadium.

After waiting several hours to be let into the Azadi stadium, the authorities finally opened the gates, said Alaei. “Almost all of us were crying from happiness in those glorious moments,” she said. “I felt the passion of the fans and could see it on their faces. That was the moment I decided to call my story Crying for Freedom … In Persian, Azadi means freedom or liberty.”

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Photographer Forough Alaei followed the story of Zeinab, one of the first women to disguise herself as a man to watch matches, in a piece published by the Guardian.

5. Tommy Smith has been described as a hero and a legend. That’s how Howard Gayle felt about him until he became a Liverpool player and was subjected to racist abuse from a captain he’d supported from the terraces, a captain who years after retiring described Gayle as a “white nigger” and warned how he’d react if one of his daughters brought home a black boyfriend.

Smith’s passing on Friday following a long struggle with dementia – triggered, thought his family, by the death of his wife from the same awful condition – was uncomfortably timed for the club he represented so stridently and successfully because less than 24 earlier Liverpool had rightly condemned all forms of bigotry after videos of Chelsea supporters branding Mohamed Salah a “bomber” circulated on social media.

Simon Hughes speaks to Howard Gayle for The Independent on Liverpool, his time at the club and the lessons modern society could learn.

Soccer - European Cup - Bayern Munich v Liverpool Howard Gayle playing for Liverpool against Bayern Munich in the European Cup. Source: DPA/PA Images

6. Inevitably, the fabulists have been working overtime since Sunday to take ownership of Woods’s return journey. By far and away the most prevalent term to be bandied around in the wake of Tiger’s stunning comeback is “redemption” – a word which connotes a quasi-religious passage from sin to salvation. This sounds like just the sort of story that small-state, multimillionaire evangelicals might like to tell themselves about Tiger Woods. And given what a grip these hypocritical moralisers already have over the upper echelons of this particular sport, perhaps we should avoid assisting them in the matter.

In some ways, obviously, the need for a simple fairy story is understandable. Narrative templates are the way we make sense of the much more formless tide of experience. But Tiger Woods’s journey back from both the implosion of his personal life and from serious injury and surgery is sufficiently complicated and nuanced to defy any reading of it as the “right” one. Can’t we pick an alternative to “redemption” out of the air? Can’t we make it a revenge narrative, instead?

‘Tiger Woods’ Masters win was no tale of redemption – it was revenge’, writes Marina Hyde in the Guardian.

7. What was it all about, all those miles on the road, up and down the country, going to dinner dances and pitch openings and medal presentations? At the end of every one of those drives, they cheered your name and slapped you on the back. They said they’d support you ever more. One of them even named their ground John Delaney Park. Was it to feel loved? Is that what you drove all those miles for?

Is that why you bought all that drink for the fans on away trips? Who could forget the Booze Train from Bratislava, or Shoes Off in Sopot?

“Oh John Delaney, he used to be a wanker but he’s alright now!” they sang at Euro 2012. How long before you realised they would never really love you, was it before they smuggled banners into grounds to decry your name, and threw tennis balls onto the pitch at the Aviva?

John Delaney and the FAI remain the nation’s chief talking point and Tommy Martin picks the bones out of the whole saga in his own witty way.

Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella are joined by Andy Dunne to preview the Champions Cup semi-finals and all the week’s news on the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly:

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