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The longest away trip in English football and the rest of the week's best sportswriting

A selection of our favourite reads from the past seven days.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

1. Outside the Devonport End of Home Park, a trickle of supporters wearing green-and-white scarves grows in number until they reach 100. Two coaches, sat silent in the night, lurch into life and open their doors. Plymouth Argyle are playing away from home and it’s time to leave. Kick off is in 10 hours and we don’t want to be late.

Daniel Storey has an early start with some dedicated Plymouth Argyle supporters to take in English football’s longest away trip, for The i.

2. “When I look back at the different conversations we’ve had, I feel like he probably knew that there was something going on without actually vocalizing it,” Lindsey Jackson said.

Vincent Jackson grew up in a military family and had a reputation for outworking other players. Teammates nicknamed him Invincible, and he took pride in never making excuses or showing weakness. He shrugged off concerns about brain injury by saying he did not absorb many helmet-to-helmet hits because he played wide receiver. He noted that he never had a diagnosed concussion.

Ken Belson of The New York Times speaks to Lindsey Jackson, wife of ex-NFL player Vincent Jackson, who was found dead in a hotel room days after his former team won the Super Bowl, about his C.T.E. diagnosis. (€)

3. Unprecedented is one of those words that gets fluffed and padded beyond its remit. We shouldn’t be as quick to deploy it. It ought to be kept back like good wine, brought out only when the occasion demands it. Something is only unprecedented if it hasn’t happened before.

So in that spirit, here’s a list of things that hadn’t happened before 2021. There had never been a female winner of the Grand National. There had never been a female leading rider at Cheltenham. There had never been an Irish golfer at the Solheim Cup. There had never been a European rookie who went five matches unbeaten at the Solheim Cup. There had never been an Irish golfer who shot a 61 in a major.

In The Irish Times, Malachy Clerkin reflects on a remarkable year for Irish sportswomen.

4. “That’s what he’s done to gel this squad together – keep everyone engaged and keep everyone happy, understanding the value they bring to the squad, no matter what their background.” 

Davide Giri was one of those internationals. An Inter Milan obsessive from the Piedmont town of Alba in the Italian Province of Cuneo. Mercifully, he had managed to enjoy a summer at home this year where he enjoyed his nation’s Euros win over England.

“He was very kind to me about it,” said Platt, acknowledging he deserved far less.

Two weeks ago, on what was the first Thursday after Thanksgiving, Giri, a PhD student in computer science at Columbia University, was stabbed to death in Upper Manhattan’s Morningside Heights on the way home from an NY Inter training session.

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For The Irish Examiner, John Riordan speaks to former Cork City player Gary Philpott about his current club, New York International FC, who are mourning the tragic death of Davide Giri.

5. Panini also secured a logistical triumph when they introduced self-adhesives, which made the process of placing those precious stickers in the album so much easier. No longer did messy dollops of glue threaten to unhinge and spoil the pages. And the final masterstroke was tying up a distribution deal with the UK’s top-selling football weekly magazine of the time. Shoot! had a circulation of hundreds of thousands, so the album – along with a packet of stickers thrown in for good measure – reached its target market.

By following this breakthrough with the launch of the first domestic album for English and Scottish clubs in 1978, there was no looking back.

In The Guardian, Richard Foster looks back on 60 years of Panini football stickers. 

BTL 5

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Ciarán Kennedy

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