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Sports, sports, sports and more sports!

by Tony Kelly
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Let me start this article with an apology to non-sports fans since  as you would imagine from the title this is all about sports.

I intend to focus on four sporting events that have taken place in recent days. They are the West Indies cricket team, the England cricket team, Australian Open tennis and FA Cup football in that order.

For the West Indies  cricket team to beat Australia on their home turf, the first time since 1997, so over 27  years ago is truly a remarkable achievement considering how the once all-conquering West Indies team who were unbeatable back in their heyday had for the longest while slumped in the world rankings. I recall being in a state of shock reading about Ireland and Scotland neither being countries known for their cricketing prowess beating the West Indies team. 

Cricket is a sport synonymous with the Caribbean and it was a bitter pill to swallow when every country to put it frankly was  thrashing the  West Indies cricket team. Looks like the current team has got its mojo back and will be a force to reckon with. That is a positive step in the right direction to further winning ways and must be applauded wholeheartedly.

The England cricket team also beat India in the first Test match on Indian soil at Hyderabad producing one of the best ever away wins stunning the hosts with a 28-run victory  in a heart-stopping finish. To beat a team that had lost only three of their previous 46 home Tests is remarkable in itself but England did it with a vastly inexperienced attack. Well  done to the team and the future is looking good for them.  It was the late MP and Government minister Norman Tebbitt who once remarked that Black people in Britain should be supporting the England  cricket team  come what may as he  wrongly questioned their loyalty.  Some politicians enjoy being contentious, attention seeking and playing to the gallery and those remarks of his were  a classic example of his ignorance. Freedom of choice  in a democracy is still a biding principle  that is available  in a free country.  I recall  one occasion in the glory days of West Indian cricket dominance the term white-wash was used after beating England in all five Test matches and it was changed then to black-wash in a joking manner.

As an avid  tennis fan who has seen live tennis at the All-England Wimbledon tennis club on many occasions as well as at the US Open, in Flushing Meadows, New York I was glued to the men’s open final from Australia with Daniil Medvedev from Russia and Jannik Sinner of Italy being the finalists. I was rooting for Sinner but after the first two sets which both went the way of the Russian I could no longer watch the match  as had  to go out.  One of my friends in Jamaica who was up at that ungodly hour kept sending me progress reports via WhatsApp of the match as it unfolded.  A well-known Jamaican saying  ‘Man nuh dead, nuh call ‘im duppy’  springs to mind because to my surprise Skinner did not give up and came back from the brink of defeat by winning the next three sets, thus becoming the Australian Open men’s tennis  champion. What a comeback and I am so pleased for him. A lesson there for all of us to learn from in terms of keep trying even when the odds are stacked against one.

The fourth round of the Football Association (FA) Cup took place over the weekend in England and although most matches were played in the spirit of friendship and sportsmanship, the local derby between Wolverhampton Wonderers  lying in 11th place in the premiership  league and West Bromwich Albion in 5th place in the championship division was marred by the most  ugly scenes of mayhem and violence from both sets of supporters who seem to forget that it is only a game and not a matter of life and death. The scenes shown on television screens after Wolves went 2 nil up  were utterly disgraceful   and reminiscent of the football hooligans/thugs who plagued English football back in the nineteen eighties and nineties. Some think  English football had cleaned up its act especially with the Kick Racism Out of football campaigns but clearly there is still long way to go.

For such a high level of violence and a total of only six arrests beggar belief as  the fighting amongst fans, pitch invasion and the referee suspending the game for over 20 minutes whilst security and the police tried to regain law and order and control is serious cause for concern.  There is nothing wrong with friendly rivalry and chanting but what unfolded at that particular football match was incredible with children getting caught up in the melee. No doubt an inquiry will take place to find out what exactly went wrong as apparently some Wolverhampton supporters who were the away fans, ended up  sitting in the sections earmarked for the West Bromwich home fans.  That if proven to be the case was a recipe for disaster.

On a positive note, it was exciting to see George Elokobi the Black manager of Maidstone  United  who compete in the National League South, the sixth level of the English Football league system defeat Ipswich Town who are currently in second place in the championship division in their FA cup tie over 90 places above them. It really is exciting to see minnows of football or underdogs so to speak deliver with such aplomb. Kudos to their manager and may their run continue in the fifth round of the FA cup as they proved themselves to be giant killers.

Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly

London born Tony Kelly of Jamaican parents grew up in Jamaica and returned to live in Birmingham in 1979.
He is a graduate of Mico Teachers’ College and taught in Kingston high schools prior to working for 30+ years as a middle manager in central and local government with an emphasis on equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. He has a masters’ degree in socio-legal studies from the university of Birmingham.
For over a decade Tony has volunteered as a diabetes ambassador firstly for Diabetes UK and now for the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. A multi-award winner doing a yearly average of 150 health and well-being events, locally, nationally and internationally focusing on type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with this medical condition 18 years ago. However with a combination of physical activity and diet he has never taken medication thus proving with the right mindset and discipline it can be achieved.
As a diabetes advocate/activist Tony will continue delivering the message of healthy options to readers of CaribDirect.com .


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