read the game
Ryder Cup fever, football friendship to 'match-fixing' and more of the week's best sportswriting
Boil that kettle…

a-general-view-of-gaelic-park-during-the-game Andy Marlin / INPHO A general view of Gaelic Park in The Bronx, New York. Andy Marlin / INPHO / INPHO

1. It is in this spirit of discarding fear that this first column back will be unashamedly parochial.

It is motivated by overlapping loyalties towards Blackrock over there and the Manhattan Gaels over here. These tribal concerns happily conflated on Sunday night. That was when my fellow Rocky Cormac O’Keeffe guided the Gaels to a county final victory at Gaelic Park in the Bronx.

It wasn’t the highest level of competition on offer in New York but it was the culmination of almost a decade of effort. O’Keeffe turned out to be the ideal man to take the anchor leg as the Gaels and the GAA at large sought to extricate themselves from a woeful 2020.

‘New York novices making the most out of adversity’ – a column by John Riordan for The Irish Examiner.

2. The Guardian have granted me a week off from the back-breaking physical labour of drawing football cartoons, so I’m afraid you’ll have to wait another week to read my searing analysis of Ralph Hasenhüttl’s waistcoat game. However, as punishment, I’ve been asked to scour my back catalogue and pick out 10 panels from the last few years that I hate the least. Usually when I’m away from my drawing board, a huge story breaks, so feel free to dip in and out of this selection as you wait for the liveblog to refresh with updates on Pep Guardiola’s shock move to Chippenham Town.

The North Bank Redemption

This sequence comes from what is probably my most popular cartoon, a parody of The Shawshank Redemption published when Arsène Wenger finally left Arsenal. Maybe if he and Gunnersaurus had stuck to sanding down boats in Zihuatanejo we wouldn’t now be dealing with the prospect of a World Cup every fortnight. (Illustration in article below.)

The Guardian’s David Squires on his favourite cartoon panels.

3. We sense there is slightly less derisive hostility to the Ryder Cup concept among the bulk of Irish sports fans than there is to that other multi-national sporting outfit, the British & Irish Lions.

Folk never truly shed the nationalism for the Lions – 2013 and the fury over O’Driscoll’s omission showcased that. The true battlefield in Lions’ terms is the battle to get most of your country’s boys in the team. That is the matter about which folk get most heated – as is made plain when some lofty UK rugby correspondent happens to omit a couple of Irish dead certs from his own hypothetical XV. The actual Test matches are an afterthought.

Students of history will not be surprised one jot at this. It’s obvious to anyone that Irish people have traditionally been more comfortable embracing a European identity than a ‘British Isles’ one.

Conor Neville’s Ryder Cup tee-up for RTÉ Sport is worth a look.

a-view-of-a-fan-in-a-galway-jersey-at-the-morning-foursomes Michael Schmidt / INPHO A view of a fan in a Galway jersey at the Ryder Cup. Michael Schmidt / INPHO / INPHO

4. Clattenburg tells the story about how, in 2015, he bought an Audi R8 and one of the other referees – suspicious about how he could afford it – reported him to the PGMOL for suspected match-fixing.

“I bought a nice car because I had a good job,” Clattenburg says. “My wife had a good job. If I wore nice clothes, why not? If I bought a nice house, why not? But to be accused of match-fixing is an absolute disgrace. All because this guy had a hunch, apparently.”

An internal investigation revealed there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever, and never was. But he was later told Riley had instructed Webb, a former policeman who was then the PGMOL’s technical director, to investigate some of the matches where Clattenburg did not referee to his usual level. So perhaps it is not a surprise — even ignoring, for one moment, everything else that meant Clattenburg “detested” the PGMOL — that the subject of this book felt like “an outsider” in his own organisation.

Mark Clattenburg recalls some of his former colleagues on the Premier League refereeing circuit in a feature with Daniel Taylor for The Athletic.

5. It was a reference to Franz Kafka that made me realise my friendship with Dom was pretty special. It was around the time when we had a player at Fulham called Alex Kacaniklic. During one match, Dom suddenly referred to the player as ‘Alex K’, linking him (who knows how) to Josef K. and Kafka’s book The Trial. Understanding the reference, I replied, keeping up the slow connections to Kafka’s work, to which mid-match he delightedly exclaimed, ‘Ah, you’re a Kafka fan, Hayley!’ and we continued to discuss our shared enjoyment of the great author.

Dom and I were to become friends purely by the anomaly of a computer. My friend Rob and I had recently acquired season tickets next to each other in H4 of the Hammersmith End. To my right sat Rob, and to his right sat Dom. We were distinctly British about our first seating together, politely saying hello, not knowing if those around us were ‘tourists’ for the day, another newly moved season-ticket holder or, as it turned out, an already formed ‘season-ticket bubble’ to which we were the newbies.

A Fulham fan explains the joys and pain of the season-ticket friendship in an extract from a new book by female writers — Hayley Davinson for The Guardian.

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