The Sunday Papers: some of the week's best sportswriting

Take your time, cool off in the shade with some of our favourite articles from the past seven days.

The Score's Ben Blake enjoys the creature comforts of a Republic of Ireland press event.
The Score's Ben Blake enjoys the creature comforts of a Republic of Ireland press event.
Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

1. “This year 58 per cent of victories across all four divisions of the league were by the home team.

“Over the last two seasons, that figure rises to 59 per cent. And all the while, 66 per cent of Dublin’s wins have come at Croke Park while on 60 per cent of the occasions they didn’t win, it was on the road.”

Ewan MacKenna pores over the stats and argues that Dublin get too much of an advantage being allowed to play at Croke Park.

2. “You know those scenes in Friday Night Lights when Dillon comes back to win on a four-play, 240-yard drive that ends with a 90-yard Hail Mary with 0.001 seconds left? Chelsea did that in the Champions League against three straight opponents, two of whom (Barcelona and Bayern) finished 1-2 in both possession and pass-completion rate in Europe, one of whom (Barcelona) was an era-defining team that had won two of the last three Champions League titles. If it hadn’t been Chelsea we would have talked about this as if it were the Cinderella run to end all Cinderella runs.”

On Grantland, Brian Phillips takes a step back to remind us just how improbable Chelsea’s stumble to Champions League glory was.

3. “We all know how it ended. The booze, the bloat, the tragically early death. But in his heyday, no-one was more alive than George Best.”

It’s not exactly writing, but on May 22, – what should have been his 66th birthday – The Mirror do some sterling work with archive photos of one of the most gifted footballers the world has ever seen.

4. “My lack of control and the endless fighting with my governing body saw me turn back to my old ways. My eating disorder returned. What I ate became the one thing I could control in my life. I kept everything secret. I lost a lot of weight but kept lying to people that it was just because I was running more. The eating disorder followed me to my new training location in Leeds.”

Hollie Avil writes in the Telegraph about her own silent struggle with an eating disorder endured since 2006. The problem caused the athlete to retire and since Avil’s revelation, other female members of team GB (including Jessica Ennis and Louise Hazel) have revealed they too were called ‘overweight’ by officials, not coaches, within the organisation.

5. “The previous three days have been six-hour stints, with some 4,000m of vertical climbing per day: he is aiming for a total of 100,000m climbing leading into the Tour. The menu is repeated in subsequent days. Whereas on his previous visit in April the workloads were “mid-range”, the levels of intensity, pain and lactate have been increased this time. “Yesterday was 25‑minute efforts in 35C heat, three of them. It’s hard to tell a layman what it feels like: it’s hard in a very sweet way, all mixed up with the endorphins.”

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The Guardian’s William Fotheringham gets to grips with Bradley Wiggins as he gears up for an assault on the Tour de France.

6. “When I returned home, there it was, on the telly. The little joke, the sign so ‘our kid’ could spot me in the crowd, the play on words, the piece of cardboard that five hours earlier was blank, had taken on a new life and was global news.

“The Twittersphere went berserk with people checking on the health of Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas. The UK media were calling it “sick”, “a deathwish” while the Man United fans were using words like “classless”, a bizarre word that John Major used to throw about. Everyone it seemed lost their heads, Christ almighty, even the Washington Post had an article about it.

“A Daily Mirror journalist called it a “sinister banner with a Nazi iron cross.”

We can’t verify the authenticity of this first-hand account on The Daisy Cutter blog, but it is an interesting angle (supposedly) from the man who made that ‘RIP Fergie’ sign so proudly held aloft by Carlos Tevez. He says humour is dead, not Fergie.

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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