essential reading
Remembering Páidí Ó Sé and David Gillick on mental strength; the week’s best sportswriting
Put the kettle on and relax with these fine articles.

1. English soccer clubs began to enclose their stadiums and charge admission in the last quarter of the 19th century. While the fans came in considerable numbers, there were those who could not pay or would not pay, or those who just spotted an opportunity to watch the games free. On moorlands overlooking stadiums or on hillocks with a view into their open corners, people have been watching the game — or the little slice of the game they could see — for more than a century.

Writing in The New York Times, David Goldblatt tells the story of the Bristol City fan who gets to watch his favourite team for free every week.

2. Turner’s mind is sound — his humor, personality, charm all still there. But the disease has devastated the facade. When his nurse removes his shirt, Turner’s bones are outlined against his skin, the once-powerful muscles of an NFL fullback surrendered to atrophy. He receives oxygen through a port in his neck and nutrition through a tube to his stomach.

Rick Maese of The Washington Post reports on Kevin Turner, the leading plaintiff in the NFL concussions lawsuit, who is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

3. It has become fashionable to denigrate Paidi’s managerial achievements, but that All-Ireland was one of the most significant in Kerry’s proud history.

It ended an 11 year famine where Kerry football had been wracked by self-doubt.

Afterwards, Paidi — the winner of eight All-Irelands as a player — bawled his eyes out in the dressing-room as he released the pressure that had built over 11 barren years.

“It’s more enjoyable as a player,” he told reporters.

In a piece on, Kieran Cunningham examines the legacy of the late Páidí Ó Sé.

4. I feel not enough is done with young athletes on the mental side, including how to deal with anxiety, self-talk and doubts.

Coaches tend to focus on the physical side of training, keeping it fun and engaging, which is great, but a lot of young athletes suffer badly with nerves on competition day and therefore don’t perform to their potential. This in my view contributes to a big fall-off in participation numbers.

RTÉ Sport columnist David Gillick feels the mental side of sport is often overlooked by coaches.

5. Their attacks were so indiscriminate and savagely over the top that the Independent Manchester United Supporters’ Association (Imusa) has been pursuing legal action against Italy’s paramilitary police. The case, using television and amateur footage, states that many of those hitting out had covered their faces and removed identification badges. Supporters with nowhere to escape to can be seen in a blind state of panic. One guy, in his 50s, is curled up in the foetal position, pleading for mercy under a flurry of baton strikes.

Daniel Taylor of The Guardian revisits the infamous night in 2007 when Man United fans got on the wrong end of Italy’s police force. 

6. Your order is also a literal order — get me this in five to six business days! — to the warehouse’s workers. These workers have personal scoreboards called UPH, or units per hour. UPH is the rate at which they must convert your paroxysm of fandom into an actual item that arrives in a coextruded polyethylene bag. If this is sports fandom’s back end — to use the argot of the New Economy — then the best time to observe it is in the stretch between Black Friday and Christmas. That’s when many workers arrive in the warehouse’s cold, puddled parking lot before dawn and leave after dark to get you the stuff you want. Seahawks cuffed knit hatsJohnny Manziel HD masksWest Virginia Mountaineers glass hoodie ornaments. The workers call this time of year “picking season.”

Bryan Curtis of Grantland writes a typically excellent piece on’s sports memorabilia warehouse.

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