only two months

Its the end of the football season and while rugby has had my attention in the past few weeks, in particular the last hurdle of Lady Rugga I have enlisted Samantha Robinson to sum up the 2010/2011 season for in(TRACK)suit.

As the 2010/2011 football seasons comes to an end I get the same feeling I had on the 13th of July 2010 when the World Cup ended. The only reason I haven’t cried is because it is only two months (two months of boring weekends may I add) and then it is back. I guess this is a good time to reflect on the season that was – the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly!

I could think of no better way to do this than involve those who make my football weekends that much more interesting – my friends on Twitter who are never too busy for a good old banter or chat. Thanks for all your comments and I look forward to next season where we can start afresh.
Let’s see what everyone had to say:

I guess it is only fair to start with the English Champions Manchester United – by far my least favourite team in the EPL although I cannot dispute that they had an amazing season. The biggest Man United supporters I know are @sangxa and 17 year old Sri-Lankan known as @236meli.

After the game on Saturday when his team lost to Barcelona @sangxa sent me this: “Losing to Barcelona was hard to take, but as a football fan I know that on the night we were beaten by the better team. Overall I am happy with the season, an FA Cup Semi-Final and winning our 19th League title is what makes me a proud supporter.

I was pleasantly surprised when, out for a work dinner, I discovered one of the girls at a fellow agency is also a HUGE football fan and equally surprised when I heard what a big United Supporter she is. @marislee I look forward to going through a whole season with you and having something more to talk about than nappies and tissues.

the 19th title

Next up is my team – the Blues, Chelsea! Well what a season we had – we started off with a bang and it looked like no one could stop us but then it started going downhill. The biggest news of the season was the move of Fernado Torres from LFC to Chelsea. I won’t lie I was over the moon – I thought he would be brilliant for us. I thought that the change would lift his spirits and his game and at the same time help Chelsea get back on track. But I was wrong. I watched one game after the next where he just could not score and I moved beyond feeling sorry for him to actually not liking him (nearly hating him).

the let down

Finally he scored, after 14 games and 734 minutes, against West Ham United. But that is where it ended and he was not able to get another one in the back of the net for the rest of the season. Although we finished second for the season – there is a lot that just didn’t happen.

I must agree with @tyronlSA that the highlights and low lights for any Chelsea fan were our games against Manchester United. A big highlight was the 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge. That was the game of the season for me – I have not seen such a display of football for a long time. But they also broke our hearts in what was called the title decider where they beat us 2 -1 at Old Trafford. When Hernadez scored his goal in the first minute I knew it was over. With Ancelotti fired and rumours of Pep Guardialo and Kaka joining the Blues, I wait in anticipation for the 2011/2012 season to kick off.

Although Liverpool has been breaking their supporter’s hearts of late (and we know how passionate the LFC supporters are – ask my good friends @derekm11, @KateNokwe and @kojobaffoe ) they can be happy with the way their season ended. Although next season will the first time in 11 years that they are not Europe I believe they ended off their season better than they started. @derekm11 says that at the beginning of this season his mindset changed from expecting the team to qualify for Champions League to hoping they would stay in the EPL.

the turnaround

@kojobaffoe said that at a stage watching games felt like going to the doctor’s offices – necessary but painful. Although they lost their last two games, the fact that LFC can still beat United 3 -1 and win with scores like 5 – 0 against Birmingham, 3 – 0 against Newcastle and 5 – 2 against Fulham show what King Kenny is capable of with his team. Of course the big news for the club was selling Torres to Chelsea. Although at the time the fans were angry about it (and most of them still have bitter feelings about what Torres had to say) they are over it and enjoy what the two new comers – Andy Carrol and Luis Suarez have brought to the LFC game. I believe that LFC is a team to watch next season – they don’t have to worry about Europe and concentrate on the other important titles and improving their game. Do you think it can be 19 – 19? I think it will be close.

Who do you think had the worst season? I definitely think Arsenal. My memory of watching the Arsenal games this season were that of watching my husband and Granddad cringe with embarrassment as well as Arsene Wenger throwing water bottles around. The season was one of ups and downs and who knows this better than @Tyronbarnard who tells us of his highlights and low lights: Arsenal was within one point of MFC at the end of February and looked like they would be worthy competitors for the EPL trophy but they finished 4th for the season. Beating Barcelona, at home, in the Champions league only to lose 4-3 on aggregate and being knocked out of the cup. Getting to the final of the Carling Cup against Birmingham City but losing in the 89th minute. And who can forget the 4-4 draw with Newcastle after having a 4 – 0 lead. It will be a summer of change for the Gunners, but what happens next year is anyone’s guess.

what wasn’t

Normally teams like Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspurs would not feature in a blog like this. But they have proven to be worthy competitors to what use to be known as the “Top 4”. Unfortunately I don’t know any Spurs supporters so no comment here but hopefully we can get to know a few in the next season. But I do know one very happy Man City supporter – @lil_vale ! The highlight for him is first knocking Man United out of the FA Cup and then going on to win the FA Cup at Wembley. And for the first time Man City will take part in the Champions League. But as any good supporter @lil_vale can see his team’s faults – “hopefully Carlos Tevez sorts himself out or just goes home and I still think we don’t finish off the smaller team enough and if we did we could have been more than just FA Cup winners this year. “

The one form of this wonderful sport that I have not really followed is the South African version. Since the World Cup I have been extremely proud of our country including our football players but I must admit that I still have not followed the PSL or the other cups and tournaments that happen right in our backyard. I do know that the game must be good if the winner of the PSL is decided in the last game of the season and is between four teams though. Well done to Orlando Pirates on winning the treble – the first team to do this in SA!! I have now recruited a new friend @khencie to teach me the ins and outs of the SA version of the game. I have already received a rundown of who is who in the PSL so I will go into the next season with my background knowledge on the up. Best believe @khencie I will be asking you loads of questions as we go along. Plus I am also relying on @kyleorton4 to organise me some tickets to watch the game. (By the way follow him because he will be one of the hot players at Bidvest Wits in the next year or two and I could be featuring his game in a blog).

So that is the season in a, very long, nutshell! I am sure we will be chatting as we watch to see who is going where with transfers. And I will check you all again on the 7th of August to watch Manchester United take on Manchester City in the FA Community Shield – the start of yet another exciting football season.

Samantha Robinson is an Public Relations Account Director at Sabio Communications.
Follow her on Twitter : @samrobinson25

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women + sport = rivalry

From the day I started this page (late last year) I had an ally, one that (not only) faithfully read my post (but) saw them before anybody else – my editor.

You’ve often read posts mentioning my ‘sporting loving boss’. Actually she was not my boss in the very core sense of the word(because she didn’t pay my salary and she’s only two years older than me).

To this day I often wonder how Samantha Robinson and I got along. I guess it is true what they say – sport can unite even people destined for rivalry. (Okay that’s a bit extreme, read her post and you’ll understand). I have finally convinced Sam to be my first guest blogger.

Take it away Sam:

I am a woman and I love sport. I think this has something to do with the fact that I have a grandfather, father and two brothers who are sport mad. I have always been able to give good commentary on most sports (except rugby) and I always find myself gravitating towards the group of men talking about the sporting highlights of the weekend and away from the ladies talking about the shopping highlights of the weekend.

I thought I was alone and that I would always be one of the very few ladies engaged in conversions around EPL standings, the starting line-up for the Proteas and the F1 teams and drivers. And then I met Kate! When she started as my intern we were in separate offices so we didn’t chat much and then I walked into the office one Football Friday in my Chelsea jersey and life at Sabio Communications was never the same again

I must admit we don’t agree on most things sport. I am Chelsea and she is Liverpool (shame poor girl), she supports the Blue Bulls and I support the Cheetahs, she likes the Proteas and well – I don’t! So most of the time, especially Mondays, we are giving each other a good go. The only time we have been on the same sporting page, well sort of anyway, was during the World Cup. We both supported Bafana, we both had a big crush on Diego Forlan and we both admittedly supported Uruguay. We followed each game, whether on TV at home, radio and our computers at the office (before we convinced our boss to get a TV with DSTV) or Twitter. We were at the office together watching the 16h00 games not wanting to go home until we knew the result and we often found ourselves in our boss’ husband office having an in-depth conversation about the games, goals, results and players. It was safe to say we probably knew more than he did. And at the end of the World Cup – on Monday 13 July 2010 we sat at our desks and cried. Seriously. Two girls cried over the fact that the Soccer World Cup was finished. The rest of the office knew not to bring up the subject for at least a week.

Now we have the next big sporting event starting in a few days – the Cricket World Cup. Although Kate is no longer with us (how I miss you!) we will no doubt battle over Twitter, Facebook and BBM. Unlike the Soccer World Cup cricket brings out the worst in both of us. We become fiercely competitive. As mentioned – she is a loyal Proteas supporter (I swear the girl should be made president of the Graeme Smith Fan Club while I could make millions ensuring Kevin Pietersen’s legacy lives on) And I find it a bit difficult to support our boys. I have tried, trust me I have tried but I struggle. Throughout the series against India I found myself gravitating towards the Indian team. But in the final ODI against India where the series was tied I woke up thinking I will support the Proteas, I will dig deep inside of me and support them until the very end. I thought that this will be a good attitude change leading up to the World Cup. But as with the other games after a few a few over’s I could already feel myself siding with India. And this was when I admitted to myself that I had a soft spot for this Indian team (or any other team name that plays against SA) especially MS Dhoni (or any hot captain’s/player that plays against SA). Being a non-SA supporter I get a lot of flack, as you can imagine, especially from Kate and our friend on Twitter, Mel. Even Sias du Plessis from 5fm has commented on my ability to “stir”. I doubt this will cool down over the next month or so. My team for the World Cup will be England and seeing that they are not too far from being completely South African it is not such a bad thing hey? I have also decided that my other two teams will be India and believe it or not – South Africa (if they don’t play against England or India or my next soft spot team).

So as the World Cup nears, whether you support SA, England, India and dare we say Australia, enjoy it and remember there is nothing wrong with some healthy competition. (Go England whip those South Africans on 06 March)



Author: Samantha Robinson – Account Director at Sabio Communications

legendary feet. legendary heart.

They say a legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do; that his accolades best describe him and gives his audience a reason to remember him. For years, and to no end, the Real Steven Pienaar will enter the book of class greats.

The past weekend was one of legends (at least what can be classified as legendary moments), and a few step-up to the scale.

These includes Kurtley Beal – a Wallabie that tore at the hearts of many Boks. The Lions roared louder than any bad Storm causing the biggest upset in 2010 Currie Cup (since Pumas embarrassed the over-confident Bulls), by thrashing Western Province.

Frankly, I wasn’t upset all, neither was The Star Newspaper’s Chief Sport writer – Kevin McCallum – who probably opened more beer cans than he had in his life. Cindy Poluta of Eyewitness News Sport kicked up her heels for her beloved Lions.  But the man of the weekend has to be Schillo.

Bafana Bafana has evolved under the guidance of Carlos, and seems to be souring with Pitso in the driving seat. The 2010 World Cup has left an impressionable legacy. My white boss actually won a ‘Name a Bafana’ contest against her brother and husband.

Yeah this inheritance is serving the white household, and on the pitch it was evident on the Blackstars / Niger clashes. The endless missed opportunities (especially against Niger) are an extensive concern though, and while Pitso may be a patient man, the Boks have shown the SA Fan Club is anything but.

Pienaar flaunted his escalating ball skills, hushing his critics and fueling the ever burning fire of his fan base by collecting the MOM award. The Everton man proved once again why he is SA’s greatest export to the English League and an avid midfielder.

While most players wouldn’t part with the ball in the ’18 area’, Schillo displayed his unselfish heart by sending one of those legendary passes to a man who, even though lacks composure (at times), deserves to be playing in the English soil – Katlego ‘Killer’ Mphela. Bernard Parker’s goal and the other five that should have been are a reflection of this Capetonian’s God given structure.

If I had illusions of making pro-soccer Pienaar’s jersey would probably be on my wall.

Ah Legendary Heart. Legendary Feat.

absolutey. utterly. gutted.

It was destiny. That the greatest captain in green and gold would reach a milestone that only few in the world could ever boast about. These legends, of course, include SA’s incomparable full-back, none other than the retired Percy Montgomery.

I can vividly recall the week the world joined us, as we made a fuss about Monty’s acquisition.It was a first for SA, and we stood proud, in unity, celebrating the greatest of greats.

No one was as pleased as my pastor, Rev Dave Gernertzky. Monty’s boot became a feature in Sundays sermons for an entire season, his love for Monty knew no bounds.

This was it for Smity, this was the moment we will tell our grandkids about. John Smit. Jake White’s protege, the 2007 Rugby World Cup winning captain; would receive the standing ovation from over 94 000 fans as he reaches one of the greatest accolades in rugby history; his 100th cap.

Only God could have orchestrated this meeting, that Smit would earn his glory on home turf. And more fitting was that this would take place in Soweto, with more history than I dare remember.

That FNB Stadium, worldly know as Soccer City – the stadium that hosted the battle between Spain and Netherlands for the ever contested Soccer World Cup Trophy – would host this phenomenon. It was just meant to be.

I can only imagine the atmosphere at the Smit household the morning of this event. One can only envision what was going through the man of the moment’s head during the captain’s run.

Was he calm? Was anxiety the main factor? Or just plain excitement and pure pride? Did the opposition matter at all or only just the reason why all the attention is on him?

Having gone past old City only two hours before kickoff, the atmosphere was electrifying, only I wasn’t to experience it to its core, Dros Pub it had to be. Dressed in my ‘Body Classique Personalised Bok’ jersey I joined the predominant male species.

As he (Smit) walked in ahead of his mates, I’ve never been prouder. I’ve never seen a nation more proud. This is our boy. This is not only his day, but OUR day too.

As we stood, I swear the balding man across our table’s stained-with-tears-face reflected Smity’s. We raised our beer glasses (ok mine had something else), lumps in throats, there really were no words.

By the end of the first half, it seemed the Boks would (prematurely) hold the Kiwis from claiming 2010 Tri-Nations (Not today Haka boys, Schalla and (Juan) Smith’s play demonstrated such).

Title lost to the Boks, pride was on the way and Smity would get his day with absolutely no hindrance, for it is meant to be.

And then, *sigh* then two minutes remaining, it all went sour, particularly for Smit as he missed an all important tackle that simply crushed an entire nation.

Blackstars’ humiliation at the hands of Suarez surely was not this excruciating. Bafana’s crushed dreams by Uruguay was somehow expected. But this? It couldn’t be! Surely Nigel Owens blew his Welsh whistle a tad bit early.

Someone tell him his watch is wrong! Tell him Smity has paid his dues and he has a legitimate claim! Play on! Somebody! Anybody…?

It was all over. Smity wasn’t to reign (Not today Ole Ole boys, Richie McCaw’s grin seemed to say), like Monty’s 19-0 defeat, they will be no victory.

What was suppose to be the greatest day of his life turned into an ‘I will be disappointment for a long time’ (Smit, at a presser’) Maybe Sharks victory was for their captain, but man, if ever there was an irony…

Pierre Spiers summed up the day with this tweet:

“Not nice but that’s sport…we leave it all on the field. Proud of our boys and well done to the All Blacks. Well done John Smit you legend!”