Archive for the Sport Category

Champions Road

Posted in Cardiff, Football on May 21, 2017 by telescoper

Signs like this have appeared on Cathedral Road near my home in Cardiff.

From the black and white stripes you can see that it celebrates Newcastle United’s victory in the Championship this season.


You learn something new every day, though. I hadn’t previously realised that the way to say ‘Newcastle United’ in Welsh is ‘Juventus’…

Back to Cardiff

Posted in Cardiff, Cricket, Football on May 19, 2017 by telescoper

Despite torrential rain and flooding (in England) and the failure of the electronic passport readers at Heathrow Terminal 5, I managed to get back to Cardiff (via plane, bus and train) more-or-less when I expected and all in one piece, if a little tired. It was good to get home and have a nice cup of tea. I love lots of things about Italy, but I’ve never found anywhere in that wonderful country to have a decent cuppa.

When I walked home from Cardiff Central last night I noticed that road barriers have started to appear on the streets near the Principality Stadium. This is because the final of the UEFA Champions League between Juventus and Real Madrid will take place there on Saturday 3rd June. This will be easily the biggest sporting event ever held in Cardiff, with up to a quarter of a million people coming into the city, only 80,000 or so of whom will be able to watch the event in the Stadium. There’ll be a lot of disruption to traffic in the City Centre, both for security reasons and because of the sheer number of people packing the place.

Hotels in and around Cardiff sold out months ago, and an enormous campsite is being created on Pontcanna fields to house some of the people who couldn’t find a room. I’m not sure I would pay £195 for 3 nights to sleep in a tent, but some will. I just hope it’s not too noisy around my house! I was thinking of going away and renting my house out for the period, but I want to be in Cardiff for my birthday treat – a performance of Der Rosenkavalier by Welsh National Opera.

Talking of sport, since the weather was pleasant when I got up this morning, I decided to reacclimatise after a few days away by popping into the SSE SWALEC Stadium in Sophia Gardens to watch the first sessions’s play of the County Championship match between Glamorgan and Nottingham.

I’m glad I went because it was an absorbing morning’s cricket, with some excellent bowling and fielding by Glamorgan restricting Nottinghamshire to just 64 for 2 off 31 overs. The second wicket to fall involved a superlative catch in the slips by Aneurin Donald. It’s good to see Glamorgan playing with a spring in their step. After a poor start to the season they finished 4th (out of nine teams) in the Royal London One-Day Cup Southern division, which although they missed out on a semi-final place, is a creditable result and a distinct improvement on last year. Let’s hope they can carry on that progress into the County Championship.

A Good Day

Posted in Cricket, Football on May 7, 2017 by telescoper

I spent all day today at the SWALEC stadium in Sophia Gardens watching yet another one-day match, this time between Glamorgan and Essex.

It was overcast early on, as you can see from the picture (which for some reason has decided to rotate itself).

Glamorgan won the toss and batted, but lost both openers cheaply. Ingram and Bragg then dug in and slowly tried to build a decent total. By “slowly”, I mean very slowly. After 10 overs Glamorgan had crawled to 26 for 2. The batsmen gradually began to assert themselves but were prevented by good fielding and bowling from really cutting loose. Then Ingram decided to take the bull by the horns. He hit three towering sixes (including one over the top of the pavilion) on his way to a brilliant 142. Still, Glamorgan’s total of 281 for 7 off their 50 overs  didn’t really look enough…

Near the end of the Glamorgan innings I checked the football scores and discovered that Newcastle United had beaten Barnsley 3-0 while Brighton & Hove Albion let in a late equaliser at Aston Villa. That meant that Newcastle United won the Championship title. I celebrated in appropriate style in the Members bar between the innings.

Essex lost two very quick wickets – they were 2 for 2 at one point –  but captain Alastair Cook and Varun Chopra put together a century partnership. When Cook was out, Ravi Bopara joined Chopra for another 100 stand.

After 41 overs Essex were looking comfortable  on 214 for 3, needing just another 68 to win. Glamorgan’s bowlers had lost control at a similar point in their last match, so most of the spectators thought Essex would rattle off the runs without too much difficulty.

As so often happens in cricket, one incident turned the match. Chopra smashed a delivery from Meschede back at the bowler. It was a difficult chance and Meschede couldn’t hold on, but the ball ricocheted from his outstretched hand onto the stumps at the non-strikers end, with Bopara well out of his ground.

From that point the Essex batsmen came and went at regular intervals, as Glamorgan’s bowlers showed much greater discipline and common sense than on Friday. Aiming at the stumps has to be a good tactic in a situation when the batsman have to score at a reasonable rate: if the batsman misses going for a shot then the ball hits. Seems obvious, but it’s not what they did in the last game.

With 2 overs left, Essex had stuttered to 268 for 7 but were still favourites in my book. But with the first ball of the penultimate over De Lange clean bowled ten Doeschate (the last of four batsman to be bowled by full deliveries aimed at middle stump), making it 268 for 8. The pendulum had swung in Glamorgan’s favour. Or had it? Essex managed another 7 off the rest of the over.

Seven runs were then needed off the last over, with two wickets left. Hogan bowling,  the crowd buzzing. First ball: 2 runs. Groans from the crowd. Then two dot balls. Cheers. Then an awful mix-up and a run out. Five needed off two balls. One wicket left. Next ball: the batsmen ran a bye to the wicketkeeper. Four needed off the last ball..

…but they could only run two. Glamorgan won by one run.

It was a very exciting finale, and a much-needed  morale-boosting victory for Glamorgan. Well played both teams!

Oh, and when I got home I saw the news that France didn’t elect a fascist as President.

Yes, it’s been a good day. A very good day.

Another One Day

Posted in Cricket on May 5, 2017 by telescoper

I had the day off today so I could watch Glamorgan play Somerset in the Royal London Cup.


It was a bright but very windy day at Sophia Gardens. Glamorgan won the toss and put Somerset in to bat. The home team’s bowlers did reasonably well, for 40 overs or so, at restricting the scoring but only took three wickets at a cost of 204. In the last ten overs, however, thanks to excellent strokeplay and (it has to be said) undisciplined bowling, Somerset pushed their total up to 338. By the end, Glamorgan looked a demoralised side.

I felt that total was going to be beyond Glamorgan’s batsmen, and so it proved. They crumbled rapidly and were all out for 168, not even halfway to their target.

While I was watching Glamorgan bat I realised that they’ve lost every game I’ve watched. Undaunted, I’ll be back on Sunday (weather permitting) to watch them try to maintain their unblemished record against Essex.

P.s As the match finished early, I headed over the river from Sophia Gardens and across Bute Park to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to listen to the free Friday evening jazz, which was most enjoyable.

One-day Cricket: Glamorgan versus Surrey

Posted in Football on April 30, 2017 by telescoper

This morning I headed down to Sophia Gardens to watch a limited-overs match between Glamorgan and Surrey, the first game I’ve ever seen in the Royal London One-day Cup, a 50-overs a side competition.

The weather forecast for today wasn’t encouraging and I almost didn’t go as I thought there wouldn’t be much play. I did, and am glad I did so as there was a full session despite the murky weather.

As it turned out, most of the thick cloud passed over on the rather stiff breeze without dropping any rain. Even this lot didn’t produce a drop:

As I settled into my seat I noticed a gentleman nearby who was wearing a thick overcoat, scarf and gloves. His ensemble was completed, somewhat incongruously, by a white sun hat.

Anyway, having lost the toss and been put into bat, Glamorgan were all out for 239 in the 48th over.  The highlight of the innings was a belligerent 72 from Colin Ingram, who hit two enormous sixes on the way. That aside, it wasn’t a great batting performance, and 240 to win does not seem to be a particularly challenging performance.

Rain had actually arrived by the last few overs of the Glamorgan innings. but it wasn’t heavy enough to stop play. It was,  however, enough to persuade me to go home for a late lunch and to warm up a bit.

If it stops raining and I decide to return to Sophia Gardens I’ll post an update, but it’s possible that there won’t be any more play as the rain is getting heavier and Surrey haven’t even started  their innings yet…

Glamorgan’s next game in this competition is on Tuesday 2nd May against Sussex at Hove. I would have liked to go to that, but unfortunately I’ve got work commitments on Tuesday so I can’t. The next game in Cardiff is on Friday 5th against Somerset. I will go to that, weather permitting..

UPDATE: after a lengthy delay, Surrey were set a target of 182 to win off 29 overs (by the Duckworth-Lewis method). They rattled off the runs with 5 overs to spare.

Championship Update

Posted in Football on April 29, 2017 by telescoper

Well, the plot thickens.

The penultimate round of matches this weekend has seen another twist in the story of this  year’s Championship.

Last night Newcastle United played Cardiff City here in Cardiff, beating the home side 2-0. I didn’t go to the match, but there seem to have been plenty of Newcastle fans in town last night.

That result meant that Newcastle United were still 2nd, but only one point behind leaders Brighton and Hove Albion.

A win for them this afternoon at home against lowly Bristol City would have given them the Championship. Surprisingly, however, they lost 1-0.

The title race, somewhat unexpectedly, therefore goes to the last round of matches next Sunday. If Brighton win, they are Champions. If they don’t, and Newcastle win or draw, then Newcastle United are champions (the latter courtesy of goal difference). If Newcastle lose then Brighton are champions whatever their result.

Given the way this season has gone it seems rather fitting that it will be decided in the final round of matches. May the best team finish top (as long as it’s Newcastle)!

And in other news, to crown an excellent weekend for Newcastle supporters, Sunderland got relegated from the Premiership.

Newcastle Up!

Posted in Football, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 25, 2017 by telescoper

I had a very full first day back at work after my holiday yesterday, which carried on after I had my dinner. So engrossed was in a research problem that I completely forgot that there was an important football match in the Championship last night. It was only when I finally downed tools – ‘tools’ in this case being pencil and paper – at about 11.30pm that I remembered that I should check the football results.

Last night’s game between Newcastle United and Preston North End (of the Midlands) finished 4-1 in favour of the home side (the one from the North). That result, combined with defeats on Saturday for Huddersfield and Reading in other games of the antepenultimate round of Championship matches, means that Newcastle have now secured promotion to the Premiership next season.

After last night’s match the top of the Championship table looks like this:

Championship

You will see that the maximum points total Reading can now  reach  is 85, Sheffield Wednesday 84, and Huddersfield Town (who have a game in hand) can only get 87, so Newcastle are guaranteed to be no longer than 2nd place.

At one point it looked like Newcastle United were going to take the Championship title by some margin, but they faltered in the last games while Brighton & Hove Albion kept up the pressure. It even looked at one point that Newcastle might fall into the playoff pack, but fortunately none of the chasing teams put together a strong enough run of games to catch them.

It’s anyone’s guess who will get the third promotion spot through the playoffs. Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday are both on good runs, but picking a winner out of those two, Huddersfield, Reading (and possibly Leeds) is very difficult.

Brighton look like being Champions now. They lost 2-0 on Friday away at Norwich City, when a win would have secured top spot, but they still only need 3 points to finish Champions. Mathematically, Newcastle could catch them but I’d say it is rather unlikely.

I do have worries about how well Newcastle might fare in the Premiership next season. Their home form has not been as good as one would have hoped this season, despite the fact that they regularly attract crowds in excess of 50,000 to St James’s Park.  Sometimes it seems that this increases the level of anxiety rather than spurring the team on. Moreover, I don’t think the squad has the quality needed to prosper in the top flight. The demands of the Championship are quite different from those of the Premier League. Manager Rafael Benitez knows this very well,  so I hope he is given the resources he needs to meet the new challenge. We’ll see.

Coincidentally, Newcastle United are on their travels on Friday for a match against Cardiff City…..