Do it one last time, champ!

Tonight we might witness the last chapter of darts-history that the legendary Phil Taylor will ever write. The sixteen-times world champion from Stoke-on-Trent will face the Scotsman Peter Wright in the final of the World Matchplay. It’s probably his last chance to win another major tournament.

The announcement hit us hart even though we’ve had to be expecting it for years now. After last year’s World Championship and his loss in the quarter-finals against Raymond van Barneveld, Taylor told the media that the next World Championship in December 2017 will be his last. Darts will lose his biggest legend ever after 56-year-old Philip Douglas Taylor will have thrown his last dart on a cold winter night at Alexandra Palace.

And seeing how strong the competition inside the top twenty of the PDC’s Order of Merit has become, this last dart will very unlikely be thrown in the final on the 1st of January 2018. We’ll probably have to farewell “The Power” a few days before and not with the splendour he’d deserve.

Watch what Phil Taylor says before the big game:

Not only with his 16 titles at World Championships, Taylor wrote his name into the history books of this unique sport forever. Taylor was among the few darts players who founded the PDC, the professional darts corporation. Without this organization, the sport would still have failed to emancipate and to reach its current level of popularity and acknowledgement as a serious sport rather than a pub game.

Now today, Taylor has the chance to farewell with a blast. Realistically, he won’t make it to the final at the World Championship, as sad as it is. But today, at his beloved World Matchplay that he’s won incredible 15 times since 1995, Taylor might win the second biggest tournament of the season. What a farewell that would be.

Admired by the crowds like noone else: There’s only one Phil Taylor

Undoubtedly, his career would be glorious enough without this win. But being able to show that he leaves still at his best and has not become a fading star on the skies of the PDC-tour, would clearly be the least he deserves. And after a magnificent tournament, where the doyen has beaten the young generation around the likes of Michael van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis, an almost cheesy last chapter could be added to the Taylor-story.

Come on Power, make us walk in the Taylor Wonderland for one last time.

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What really grinds my gears #2: The Real Madrid – Man Utd friendly

In this format I will, once per week, polemically write about things that disturb me in the world of sports. Things that, in my opinion, either are hilariously disgusting or just proper embarrassing. You decide.

It’s quite early in the week, but the world of sports – in particularly the world of football, or soccer in this very case – already managed to annoy me.

On early Monday morning I stumbled across the Real Madrid – Manchester United friendly that was plaid at Santa Clara, California. Normally, I don’t watch many friendlies as it’s always a bit of the same stuff: trials, trials, trials. Hence, there often is no real game flow, or one side getting destroyed, like Bayern Munich against Milan a few days ago.

Anyway, this time I was trapped into watching the game. Europa-League-Champion versus Champions-League-Winners. That must be good. Sure about that?

After falling almost asleep in the first half (it was late and the game was reeeeeally slow), Antony Martial woke me up with an absolutely insane dribbling. How he eliminated the entire Madrid-defence was absolutely brilliant. There was only one way for goal scorer Lingard to celebrate: by thanking Martial for that marvellous assist.

But that was the only moment of brilliance in this friendly. The rest was boring. Except for four events, that were so sad, they actually didn’t even grind my gears, they made me laugh.

Scene 1: Ronald McDonald leading the teams onto the pitch.

How commercial can football get? I am totally ok with ads on the side of the pitch, on the shirts, wherever you want. But the first guy entering the pitch in the middle of the four referees being Ronald McDonald just takes it too far for me.

The fact that he carried the ball to kick-off, like he was the fifth referee – absolutely hilarious. But hey, his hair style is similar to that of Marouane Fellaini – maybe that’s why he could sneak on the pitch. What brings me to the next scene.

Scene 2: Fellainis miss.

83rd Minute. 1:1. You get an absolutely gorgeous cross right into the box, getting left alone by the defence. What would the average striker do? Net that ball and decide the game. What does Marouane Fellaini do? Kick the ball out of the stadium from six metres.

That ball was honestly more difficult not to score. Even our friend Ronald might have netted that one. But thanks to that miss, we got to enjoy a rather special penalty shootout, which is point 3 on my list.

Scene 3: The penalty shootout. (Did they even try?)

A ball kicked towards the moon, a weak return pass to the keeper, a crossbar hit and some good saves by the two keepers lead to a penalty shootout that will be remembered for quite a while. Only three out of ten penalties were converted.

Surely, it was a friendly and not the UCL-Final. Still. Trying to promote football in the US and getting to present a penalty shootout, what can be said to be one of the most thrilling parts of a game, is quiet a nice opportunity. That shootout hilariously wasted it.

Scene 4: Victor Lindelöf, the lumberjack.

During the game, however, Casemiro brilliantly converted a penalty awarded to Real Madrid in the second half. Let’s remember why he got to take that penalty. A brilliant pass towards Madrid’s new signing, the young Theo Hernandez sent the Frenchman into the box where it was just him and United’s new signing, the Swedish centre-back Lindelöf.

https://twitter.com/AnfieldNation/status/889256757129859072

Trying to kick the ball away with pure force, Lindelöf underestimates the speed of ball and opponent and brutally hits Hernandez leg. Slapstick, if you ask me. However, mistakes like that can happen to any defender. The fact, that he didn’t even get a yellow card for what could have been a sending-off, is the hilarious part of the story.

After all, let’s just hope that on August 8, when the two sides face each other in the Super Cup, we’ll see a different game and don’t have to cringe too much again.

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A sport we should all go professional in: The Darwin Beer Can Regatta

Didn’t we all have the dream of becoming a pro in the sports we used to perform as kids? Be it football, tennis or skiing – most of us will soon have figured out, that this will stay a dream. Children being pushed by their parents who were eventually better than us, injuries or simply other priorities were reasons for us to develop a different attitude to sports. You name it.

Today I want to present to you a way how we could still perform some kind of sport in front of dozens of thousands spectators. We don’t even need to sacrifice our lives to it and work out every day sweating, bleeding and grovelling through the dirt.

Most of our preparation would consist of drinking beer. F*cking awesome, aye? Alright, enough teasing for today. The event I’m talking about is the Darwin Beer Can Regatta that has been held two weeks ago. An annually – let’s call it sailing – event, held in the Northern Territory of Australia attracting about 20k visitors to Mindil Beach.

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But sailing is a classy sport – If anything, they’d be drinking champagne on expensive boats. What has beer got to do with it? Basically everything. Because the boats in this unique race are built out of empty beer cans, soft-drink bottles and milk cartons. Each competing team builds its own boat prior to the event. Seeing if they manage to float or miserably sink after thirty seconds is part of the event.

Generally speaking, the race is about fun, not results. It’s about people having a good time building the boats (of course, I mean they get to empty countless cans of beers as preparation – that’s what I call a workout!), and people enjoying an event with the character of a public festival.

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Some competition is part of the game too, of course. Local fame, glory and a small price money are the rewards for creativity and speed. But mainly, this extraordinary regatta is for a good cause: Organized by the local lions clubs, sponsored by local companies and generating a few extra coins through entry fees and food and drink sales on the site, the Darwin Beer Can Regatta raises money for charity.

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The participants compete in several disciplines, including boat judging, kids races, adult races and the famous Battle of Mindil where the boats compete over a hidden item, that can be stolen from one another. Watching the beer pirates trying to operate their boats without having them sink is hilariously funny.

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In an eager world of competitive sports this event is a longed for alternation. This is manifested in their Ten Can-mandments that determine the rules of the regatta:

1.Thou shalt enter the event in the right spirit. 2. Thou shalt build the craft of cans. 3.The craft shall float by cans alone. 4.Thou shalt not drown. 5.Thou shalt not take the name of the craft in vain: any craft bearing signs or lettering that may be offensive will be barred. 6.Thou shalt not drift from the straight and narrow and end up at Mandorah. 7.Thou shalt not protest too much. 8.Thou shall honor thy Committee. 9.Thou shalt not commit adultery – nothing really to do with the Regatta, but it gives us an air of responsibility and respect. 10. Thou shalt go back and read the first can-mandment again.

And it involves beer. So what more could we ask for? Anyway. If we ever stood a chance of fulfilling our dream of performing sports in front of a huge crowd, the Darwin Beer Can Regatta is what we want to do.

More Infos and picture credit: http://www.beercanregatta.org.au

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What really grinds my gears 1: Mayweather vs McGregor – The Money Fight a.k.a. The Oscar Night

In this format I will, once per week, polemically write about things that disturb me in the world of sports. Things that, in my opinion, either are hilariously disgusting or just proper embarrassing. You decide.

Do you live on the moon? No? Fine. Then you’ve probably heard somewhere around that on the 26th of August two guys will step into a ring in Vegas and perform, what is being sold to us as the fight of the century.

At least if you follow any media outlet whatsoever, as each of them has probably written 50 articles about every single part of the embarrassing pre-fight press conference that was held this week. So let’s take a deeper look into that so called Money Fight.

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The two gentlemen are called Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather and Connor McGregor. A living legend of the boxing world on the one side, an eccentric Irishman dominating UFC-fighting on the other side. Sounds promising until here.

Now, if you take into consideration that this will be a boxing-only fight, things get a bit shady already. McGregor will have no chance whatsoever. Even though Mayweather is retired since 2015 and has celebrated his 40th birthday in February this year, he can’t possibly lose this fight. It’s just not McGregors sport, not to only using his hands. He’s used to MMA techniques and certainly is one of, if not the greatest, athletes this sport has ever seen.

Yet, he will lose. We already know that. Knowing how experienced Mayweather is and how he handles big fights (basically by just hiding behind his fists and hugging his opponent 24/7 like in the Pacquiao-fight 2015), he will not be in danger of losing. Only if McGregor would start his UFC-moves on him, which he is denied by contract and wouldn’t be willing to risk a huge fine for, I presume.

floyd-mayweather-jr-1212550_960_720Picture: Pixarbay

Now why would McGregor still accept this fight and why would Mayweather still decide to return after two years for a fight, in which he only could lose? The answer is as simple as it gets: Cash. Dineros. Money. Not a rivalry or determining who’s the greater legend. Cashing in – that’s what this fight is about.

Each of the two participants is said to receive about a hundred million dollars just for this one fight, no matter who wins it in the end. Let that sink in.

Clearly they’re more than happy to promote this fight as the fight of the century and fool millions of people into this. There’s nothing wrong with promoting a fight and making it look bigger, than it is. That’s how the sports industry works nowadays. But this time, they took it one step too far.

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Picture: Facebook

What we had to see during this press conference was absolutely cringe-worthy. I’ve never, ever seen something like that happen in sports before. Two guys throwing money at one another while insulting their future opponent. Where did they look at during all of this? In the camera.

If I wanna see poor acting I turn on the WWE. At least I know it’s fake there. However, setting this up as the boxing fight of the century does just not match with my understanding of sports and with my ideals. This staged feud is nothing else but theatre.

We might as well start a crowdfunding and purchase two Oscar physiques for the lads. I mean, it would be well deserved. This whole rivalry is fooling the public at its finest.

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Cheers Lads, here it is! Picture: Pixarbay

Still, it’s not even them who are to blame for it. Mayweather and McGregor the like are two of the greatest athletes and iridescent personalities, the fighting-scene has ever seen. Fair play to them, if they manage to turn this popularity into huge piles of dollar notes just by making people soak in every phrase of their pre-fight-showdown and believing it’s true.

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Picture: Pixarbay

Who’s to blame is you. And me. And everyone else reading the articles about this fight. Including this one. Damn it, they got me. How do we get out of this hamster wheel?!

The good thing is, I won’t even have to spend money to watch this so-called fight of the century. I’ll just log into Facebook the next day and scroll through my news feed. There will be an article about every breathe they took inside the ring. Nothing but smoke and mirrors.

Up until then I’ll spend my time caring about actual sports. Or maybe I’ll start taking acting lessons – it seems to pay out.

 

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As real as football gets: Bohemians Dublin vs. United of Manchester

So last week I’ve been to Dublin. Actually just for visiting the city and enjoying some chilled pints of Guinness. On Saturday, those plans changed spontaneously. And I couldn’t be happier about that. Because what I got to enjoy that day was pure football in all its realness. No commerce, just people enjoying the beautiful game in the middle of the town.

The game I visited was a friendly between Bohemians Dublin, currently ranked 7th in the Irish premier division, and United of Manchester, an English non-league team. Wtf? You’re abroad and waste your time watching a bloody friendly between two teams half of Europe has never heard about? Exactly.

The reason for visiting this game was quite obvious. Both of the clubs are 100% fan-owned, which makes them a special part of the European football map. Nowadays seeing a team play where it’s not only about broadcasting deals, shirt sales and overpriced tickets to finance exorbitant wages and huge transfer fees for average players (no offense, Premier League) is something unique.

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So I voluntarily spent 10$ for a ticket and got on my way. Just a short walk through Dublin’s residential areas and all of a sudden you can spot the lovely Dalymount Park. Just as the old Arsenal stadium in London this stadium is located in the heart of the city and lets you soak up the whole vibe of this working-class region where football is lived as a religion and the local club is the entire pride. I really missed that.

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As I arrived too early, I had quite some time to explore the stadium. After passing a tiny entrance that probably half of the American-Football-Fans wouldn’t even fit through, I entered the most authentic football experience, I’ve ever had.

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After visiting the two bars inside the stadium (I’m not talking about business lounges or that kind of crap, I mean proper pubs) I strolled around the stands. Dalymount Park has 4 stands, only one of which was opened that day. Two others weren’t even accessible.

Grass growing on the stands, plastic seats that were bleached by the weather and stone stairs slowly crumbling apart were a sign that the stadium was in a stand of disrepair but still I couldn’t agree more with what could be read above the opposing stand: DALYMOUNT PARK – THE HOME OF IRISH FOOTBALL.

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The experience was rounded up by the visitor site, the non-league team United of Manchester. Bringing a couple of hundred supporters with them, the Englishmen were the perfect opponent for that day. Travelling to another country to support your local, semi-professional club in a friendly rather than staying at home and watch the two greats of Manchester, United and City, play on the TV shows the dedication and the love these fans have got in their football-hearts.

 

They, and this also holds for the home fans, take humble football over glamour and international stars. Why? Because they love this sport.

Seeing these teams play each other made me proud of being a football fan and grateful to see that there still is an opposing world within world football that still is a people’s sport.

Oh yeah, by the way: the game ended 1:2. Quite embarrassing for Bohemians to be honest. But who cares? That game clearly was a statement and not about results whatsoever. Except you had twenty bucks on Bohemians, like me. I’ll never learn it.

 

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The Confed Cup taught us that the whole video assistant referee thing (as it is now) is garbage

Football. The Confed Cup is a final rehearsal for the World Cup. This year we can be lucky enough to have had it: The generally great idea of a video assistant referee (VAR) proved to be nowhere near where it should be in order to properly assist referees during a World Cup.

“How long have we been waiting for this? Finally someone making an end to post-match discussions, controversial decisions and disputes in football!” Said no one ever. At least not during this tournament.

Of course, technological help in football can be of value and is not to be damned altogether. Personally, I’m a big fan of the goal line technology. However, the video assistant referee feature, proved to be… let’s say unsatisfactory. Having to wait an odd minute after every close goal to see whether some guy in a distant room in front of a TV-screen actually allows it, is disgusting.

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Seeing fans celebrating an absolute screamer of a goal and then just within seconds seeing their emotions fade and eventually turning to utter disappointment is just not what football is about. The game is what it is exactly because of its speed of action and its sometimes unfair, but always human-made, decisions. Come on FIFA, you can’t seriously be that sadistic with us?

I’d much rather take the emotions – the immediate great ones when my team scores and the long lasting devastation when they concede a goal that I later see shouldn’t have scored – than some germ-free but always correct gentleman’s sport.

Having the possibility to review a critical situation would definitely add something to the beautiful game. But just forcing it into every millimetre decision over an alleged offside is certainly not, why people have been asking for it. As it is now, the video assistant referee feature rather is an emotion-killer than a justice-bringer. What one should be aiming for is a more precise domain of appliance.

Just like in tennis or American football. A set number of challenges per team or referee that can be taken and only for a clearly identified range of problems (e.g. if the ball was touched with the hand or not). But this is what rehearsals are for.

So it is now up to the football associations to show that they learned something from this Confed Cup and turn the great idea of a video referee into something actually useful for the beautiful game. Over a year until the World Cup should be plenty of time to do so.

 

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Germany wins the Confed Cup – so what? Why we enjoyed watching a pointless tournament anyway

Football. The world champions from Germany crown themselves Confed Cup winners in St. Petersburg. It marks the end of a tournament many people, fans and experts alike, called pointless or even a makeweight in the football calendar. Here’s some reasons, why the tournament was worth a watch nonetheless.

The Confed Cup prevented us from suffering a summer without football

Every even year is generally fine for sports fans. You either get the Euros or the World Cup plus the Olympics either in summer or winter. No worries. However, every second year there’s a gaping break in summer when the national leagues are over.

And we football fans are certainly not made for that. We need our evenings in front of the TV with a cold beer, some banter with the lads, and obviously some proper football on. We simply can’t be denied that by the global sports schedule.

The Confed Cup comes as our saviour here. Because without it we’d have to watch the Finnish or the Korean League in order to get our football-dose. And for that, even I am not addicted enough.

It allowed us to do some football safari

Who needs to go on a holiday during summer? The Confed Cup offers – at least thanks to the Oceanian Champion – some proper exotic birds that make the tournament worth watching. I mean, have you ever heard of Clayton Lewis or Stefan Marinovic? No? Me neither.

But the Kiwis definitely made a fine addition to the field of big football nations competing in Russia. And cheering for the underdogs is always great fun too – I almost smashed my TV when Wood netted that 1:0 against Mexico. Not quite like Tahiti four years ago but still: Cheers, All Whites. It has been a pleasure!

It provided some good laughs

What would football be without us fans getting a chance to trash-talk after a game? Despite the fact, that most of the players in the tournament earn our yearly wages per week and would humiliate us all in a five-a-side game, seeing them miss an empty netter or produce an own goal makes us smile. As long as they’re not playing for our team at least. This year’s Confed Cup didn’t disappoint when it comes to that point either.

Whether it’s imagining Pep Guardiolas face when he saw Claudio Bravo save three consecutive penalties against Portugal or Cristiano Ronaldo getting angry, because he couldn’t take his penalty as his team already lost after only three rounds in the shootout. Legend says, he’s still standing on that pitch in Kazan and waiting to take his penalty and could therefore not participate in yesterday’s small final against Mexico.

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Picture: Daily Mail

Also seeing the ref in the Germany-Cameroon game send off the wrong player (after video review!) or Jogi Löw scratching himself in delicate ares (again!) will not be forgotten too soon.

It showed how great the future of German football actually is

Leaving his best players at home and starting with a team consisting of unexperienced, young players, Jogi Löw has caused quite a bit of controversy in his home country. Still, the team won every game in the tournament except for a 1:1-draw against Chile, the only opponent whom they didn’t score at least three times against. Meaning: Germany rocked this tournament and is the well-deserved winner. Keeping in mind, that their under 21s won the Euros just a week ago, “Die Mannschaft” could be having some golden years ahead.

However, they apparently can’t win the following World Cup. No Confed Cup winner managed to do that so far. Another thing that tournament’s like this are good for: useless stats people like me can use to act smart. Yay.

 

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