The Hillsborough tragedy was one of the main talking points in the media this week. Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images
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The Sunday Papers: some of the week’s best sportswriting

Featuring a revealing Victoria Pendleton interview and a touching piece on the Hillsborough tragedy.

1. “The suspicion must be that Köln did indeed take advantage of this awful situation to get rid of a player whose performances had been poor. If that’s the case, it was a very cynical ploy made worse by the club dressing it up as a humanitarian gesture as well as the signal it sends out to those who believe that intimidation and threats are all part of the game.”

Writing for Sports IllustratedRaphael Honigstein recounts the sad case of Kevin Pezzoni, who was released by his club after fans continually threatened him with violence.

2. “Van Eijden had just found out about her relationship with Gardner, and the three were having a furious row. “I was so shocked at the severity of his reaction,” she tells me, when we speak again over the phone. “I thought he might be a bit annoyed, but the fact that he was literally raging, livid, was shocking. He was disgusted in what we’d done, thought we were unprofessional, disrespectful and we’d betrayed him. All these words which, personally, for me, they’re not words that people use. Because I’m not that kind of person. I’m very by the book, you know? I don’t like breaking rules. For someone to describe my character, and Scott’s character, in such derogatory terms, was very hurtful.”

British Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton gave a revealing interview to The Guardian’s Kira Cochrane earlier in the week.

3. “I can fondly recall those drives home  after a 1-0 loss, debating that crucial misplaced pass, the back four being rubbish and, most important of all, trying to figure out why the guy who sat behind us in the Derrynane Stand was flicking orange peel at those around him.

“Would I have become so fanatical about Cork City if it wasn’t for my Dad bringing me to Bishopstown as a toddler? Probably not.”

Alan Smith of attempts to convey what it is that makes League of Ireland football so special, with some personal reflections.

4. “The only visible authority was half-adozen forlorn figures in blue on horseback and a few on the ground, screaming at the swaying crowd to back away from the turnstiles. For the second year running, and despite protests, Liverpool were given 4,000 fewer tickets and the smaller end of the ground – despite having a much bigger following than Forest.”

For obvious reasons, there have been a series of articles written about the Hillsborough disaster over the course of the past week. And this piece, by Brian Reade, is undoubtedly one of the best.

5. “Donnellan once was a sports-talk radio phenomenon, loud, brash, and 5-foot-2 and 300-plus pounds. She quickly became one of the top personalities on ESPN Radio when she debuted in the summer of 1994. She was the first woman ever to host a nationally syndicated sports show, and many in the industry consider her a trailblazer not just because of her gender but also because of her caustic, entertainment-first, sports-second style. She was the first person to have her sports radio show translated to TV. She signed a lucrative book deal with ReganBooks, the same publisher who turned Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern into best-selling authors. She was a guest on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. She was written about in Newsweek.”

Grantland’s Michael Kruse brings you the fascinating tale of the rise and fall of Nanci Donnellan, aka ‘The Fabulous Sports Babe’.

6. “He did it by trumping his own perfectionist streak and the negativity that has long accompanied it: letting a few groans and longshoreman-worthy oaths escape his Scottish lips but never allowing himself to exit this monumental match emotionally or mentally on his way to a 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 win.”

The New York Times’ vividly described account of Andy Murray’s US Open triumph contained no shortage of wit.

7. “Of course, that day against the Czechs was more about hard lessons than glimmers of hope. Gansler and his “galumphing side of corn-fed college boys,” in the words of English journalist Brian Glanville, had been well and truly schooled. To seriously compete with the rest of the world, the Americans would need to stop just playing the game. They needed to start thinking it.”

Matthew Doyle’s exhaustively researched piece chronicling a short history of American soccer from Italia 90 onwards transcends its ostensibly niche appeal to become an insightful commentary on the beautiful game itself.

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