“If we played in pyjamas it wouldn’t bother me”

IAN COLE rounds up a week of sport and journalism in which the English football authorities tried to lock national newspapers and agencies out of the people’s game, and failed

“In reporting football, as in the reporting of politics or foreign news, the time comes when you have no option but to stand up for yourselves or face restrictions that make proper reporting an impossible job. The key asset the leagues hold is press access to stadiums, and that is significant” Sam Wallace‘s trenchant comment piece in The Independent on the dispute between the News Media Coalition and the football bodies.

“There’s Buckingham Palace, familiar to everybody now after the incredible scenes on April 29” Matt Chilton, BBC’s triathlon commentator in tour guide mode on Sunday, apparently unaware that some of his audience may have been familiar with the Queen’s London residence before 2011.

Community spirit: Mario Balotelli, unhappy to be substituted by his manager Roberto Mancini

“Today was a footballing lesson. Great win for the champions. We’re the team to beat. We want to prove that” Wayne Rooney, on Twitter, after Manchester United’s 3-2 Community Shield victory over Manchester City.

“Just because you are told to jump doesn’t necessarily mean you have to. I may choose to stand perfectly still. It’s my right” Joey Barton rejects Newcastle’s decision to give him a free transfer.

“The problem I have with Twitter is that people are Twittering in an emotional state. Sportsmen are emotive people. They get in an emotional state, then put out something instantly on Twitter. It’s very damaging” Alan Pardew, Newcastle manager, caught in the middle of a spat with Barton.

“Every time Mario does something people read things into it. I think he could do his job better. He can play better. It’s important he works for the team like the other players” Roberto Mancini, Manchester City manager, after problem boy Mario Balotelli stalks off down the Wembley tunnel on being substituted.

“You would not believe the chasm that’s left when the Premier League goes away. The excitement, the tension, even just looking forward to the games. That’s not there any more” Ian Holloway, manager of relegated Blackpool, kicks off with a 1-0 win in the Championship at Hull.

Unstoppable: Manu Tuilagi on his way to scoring a try on his England debut at Twickenham

“I’ve seen a lot of different players coming through with a lot of different abilities. Manu has an aura – a Jason Robinson-esque uniqueness – to impact on a game. He’s got the power, the speed. He’s a hell of a talent” Jonny Wilkinson on Manu Tuilagi, who scored on debut in the 23-19 victory over Wales.

“I consider myself fully English as a rugby player, but you never lose that Samoan side to just come out of the line and smash people” Manu Tuilagi.

“Once we get to the World Cup there will be bigger things to worry about. They said they were going to be black and I was happy with that” Martin Johnson, England manager, on England’s all-black change strip.

“Doesn’t bother us at all. If we played in pyjamas it wouldn’t bother me” Chris Ashton, England wing.

Champion, a wonder horse: Zara Phillips on her horse of a lifetime, Toytown

“It’s like the end of an era. He was the horse of a lifetime for me. We grew up together,” Zara Phillips competes for the last time on the retiring Toytown, on whom she won the world eventing championship.

“The Serpentine…  In 1814 it was the centre of celebrations after the Battle of Trafalgar” Matt Chilton, again offering tour tips of London rather than commentating on the triathlon. We know news travelled slower in the early 19th century, but Matt might like to note that the Battle of Trafalgar was in 1805.

“I hope not. I hope I’m going to be better next year” Alistair Brownlee, winner of London’s world championship triathlon race, when asked if he thought it was his best performance.

“The greatest scoop ever landed by a football club’s media was MUTV’s jaw-dropping interview with Roy Keane in which he lambasted his team-mates and convinced Ferguson to chuck him out. It was a property that any journalist would be delighted with. To my knowledge, almost six years on, MUTV has still to broadcast it” Sam Wallace continues to make the case for newspaper coverage of football clubs, rather than handing over the field exclusively to pliant PR departments.

“It has been an incredible part of my life. To have been on that field so many times and to have experienced so many highs and lows has been amazing. The thought of not having it any more is not one I wish to consider” Jonny Wilkinson reflects on RFU ruling that could prevent his selection for England because he plays club rugby in France.

“If we go all the way in the World Cup, in theory I’ll be off to Japan two days after the final. If we win it I’ll have to learn the Japanese for ‘I’m sorry but I’m slightly the worse for wear’” James Haskell, England back row, has signed to play for Japanese club Ricoh Black Rams.

“We don’t go around talking about Gavin Henson at every moment. If he gets a chance, he gets a chance. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t get selected, like anybody else. He might get a chance next week. Maybe the following week. Maybe not” Warren Gatland, Wales coach.

“I do not want to speak about the transfer because I have done that for three years now in every press conference so I don’t think there is any need to add something” Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager, like most of us, is tired of the Cesc Fabregas transfer saga.

“Arsene is focused and determined. I see him regularly, I see a man who still has as much fire in his belly as when he started. He wants to win. People have got to remember what he has achieved. It’s easy in life to get rid of people. Then what?” David Dein, former Arsenal vice-chairman, on FiveLive’s Sportsweek, as the fans’ pre-season unrest grows.

“Nobody’s more miserable than me. I won’t be sleeping tonight and I’ll probably watch the game again when I get home. But we all have to forget about it, me more than anybody. Everybody will think it’s a hangover. We have to eradicate that – that’s my job” Sam Allardyce, manager of Championship favourites West Ham, who lost their first game at home to Cardiff.

“I’m not happy in Manchester. I don’t like the city. With the boss and the rest of the team I’m okay, but the city is not up to my taste. I’m looking at this experience as part of my growing up on a personal level” Mario Balotelli.

“It’s physics, pure and simple. The hurdles are 3ft 6in. My hips are slightly under the hurdles’ height; the other competitors are just above. They don’t have to jump but can step over them, so they come down more directly” Andy Turner, European and Commonwealth 110m hurdles champion.

“Dwain is an ambassador for a charity advocating people getting a second chance. He is not being given one” Siza Agha, manager of Dwain Chambers, as UK Athletics refuse to let the convicted drug cheat run in the London Grand Prix.

“My boys are inconsolable. We had that many high shots on us that didn’t get penalised and he gives that one against us when it was on the shoulder. To have your dream taken away like that is just not good enough. We deserve to be at Wembley and we’re not” Terry Matterson, Castleford coach, after losing their Challenge Cup semi-final against Leeds with an extra-time penalty.


  • Thu Aug 18: Lunch with Sir Clive Woodward, performance director of the BOA, on plans for the 2012 Olympics with just one year until the London Games. For booking details click here.
  • Mon Sep 12: SJA Autumn Golf Day, Muswell Hill GC. Click here for more details and to book yourself in for the day.
  • Wed Dec 7: SJA 2011 British Sports Awards – Booking now open. For more details, click here.

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