Thoughts from Blog-ingham

Goodbye Sir Bobby – Where is Sport without people like you?

Posted in Current Affairs, Football, People, sport, Uncategorized by adamellis1985 on September 22, 2009

Yesterday, friends, family and colleagues gathered at Durham Cathedral to pay their last respects to a sporting legend. Sir Bobby Robson died 31st July, aged 76 after losing his fifth battle against cancer. It was fitting that it took place in Durham, the heartland of Robson’s beloved North East where he grew up and close to Newcastle United where he enjoyed a successful managerial spell around 10 years ago. Sir Bobby was a football icon, playing for England in a successful playing career before managing some of the biggest clubs in the world including Barcelona and nurturing the talent of household names, such as Romario, Ronaldo and Alan Shearer. Robson was not only a footballer’s man but he was also a gentleman and a fair man.

Sir Bobby Robson (1933-2009)

Sir Bobby Robson (1933-2009)

Robson’s achievements in football included winning European trophies with Ipswich Town and taking England to the semi finals of Italia 90 and a posts width away from a place in the World Cup Final. He also won numerous competitions with Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven and Porto. He was an early mentor to one Jose Mourinho at Barcelona as well. But his efforts stretched beyond sport where he used his high profile status in his great efforts in raising money for cancer and the Cancer Trials Research Centre he helped set up at Newcastle’s Freeman hospital. Once he had to give up football coaching he set himself another stretching target, which was target of raising £1.5m for the new unit, and reached that sum in eight weeks. We need more Robson’s in the world.

In the summer when a great sporting man died, sport has been dragged through the mud yet again with scandal after scandal. The early summer saw 1980’s football hooliganism return in the shape of rioting Millwall and West Ham fans in a Carling Cup match at Upton Park. The pitch was invaded four times and outside the ground was a scene reminiscent of an evening out in downtown Baghdad. A great image for our bid to host the 2018 world cup and for onlookers seeing how we are preparing for the 2012 Olympics. Then just in the last week, Manchester City have been embroiled by disciplinary issues. Firstly Emmanuel Adebayor playing aginst his old club Arsenal put the boot in, quite literally.

Adebayor stamped on Robin Van Persie’s face and could have blinded him. I suspect Robson would have had a thing or two to say to Adebayor in the dressing room, which would have been a little firmer than Mark Hughes’ pathetic defense. Hughes said I looked him in the eyes and asked him if the did it on purpose? He said he didn’t and I believe him. Come on now Mark, is he really going to tell you he was trying to re arrange his face because he hated his ex-teamate?! Robson would most likely have apologised to the fans and put Adebayor on the transfer list. You only have to cast your mind back to what he thought of Craig Bellamy and Kieron Dyer fighting each other on the pitch when they were teammates. Robson’s eventual efforts to get Dyer out of the club led to a fans backlach against him, however, it was the right thing to do. Hughes and Adebyaor have let themselves and the fans down. Then in the Manchester derby just this weekend, a Manchesater United fan ran onto the pitch to celebrate a goal with the players (which he must have thought was allowed or have been blind drunk or both) and Carig Bellamy (him again) slapped the fan in the face.

But these issues of bad sporting etiquette extend beyond Robson’s realm of football. I wonder what Robson would have thought of Falvio Briatore’s diretive to Nelson Piquet to deliberately crash his Formula 1 multi million pound car into a wall so his teammate could win the race? Don’t forget that Briatore is also asscoiated with football in his capacity as a director at Queens Park Rangers. Not for long I suspect.

What Reanult did wasn’t just playing hard and doing everything you can to win. This is plain cheating. There is no two ways about it. And how do the FIA try to uphold sporting and fair play standards? By giving Renault a suspended two year ban. Yeah that’s a real deterrent. Great job.

And then there is the gentlemen’s game and a real man’s game that is Rugby Union. But what would Robson have made of Dean Richards instructions to wing Tom Williams during the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster in April to fake a blood injury while he was in charge at Harelquins? Richards asked one of his players to bite down on a blood capsule so that he could leave the field and they could make a subsitution that would have otherwise not been allowed to get a kicker on in the final minutes of the game? Can’t imagine Robson would have thought much of that. Real blood injuries…fine…man up and get on with it if you can. I’m not sure Robson could have even fathomed what a calculated, deliberate fake blood injury could even be.

The point is that we need influential people like Robson at the top of the sporting game and with the ability to influence and uphold the standards to keep sport moving in the right direction. We need less Adebayors and Briatores and more Robsons. Sport shames itself week in week out across Football, Rugby, Formula 1 and even Tennis. But it is how people are punished and how sport learns from its mistakes as a community that we will move on from these issues. Overturning Eduardo’s ban for blatent diving because FIFA are scared of Arsenal’s mite in world football does not send the right messages to the grass roots of the game and it’s not the way to go. Sporting associations need to take more of a stand against violence, corruption and cheating in sport. It would be easy to stamp out (no Adebayor pun intended) all the issues mentioned above. Fine Renault £1 million and ban them from competing for a few races. Then see if one of their drivers ever miraculously drives into a wall again. Ban Adebayor and arrest him for assault and fine Manchester City an exhorbitant amount of money (they can afford it). Otherwise in fifty years time there will be no more memorial services to celebrate the lives of sporting legends and people like Sir Bobby Robson.

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