I, Tonya

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Mainly unpleasant people, in an extraordinary story,  yet most striking is the domestic violence, and dysfunctional family life – almost melted away in the moment when Tonya first approaches a trainer at the age of 3 on the ice to be coached.
The movie
essentially says Tonya Harding was wronged throughout her young life and career, and at the end re-emphasises how Tonya was a skating great, but does not take much opportunity to show that Nancy Kerrigan was a victim.
But it is a very good movie. Go see.

Written from the viewpoint of many “I”s, the themes are much richer than “the incident” that made Tonya Harding notorious.  A “red neck” – notice how we don’t talk about “chavs” any more – whose athleticism broke barriers in figure ice skating, but struggled more on the artistic / grace side of the sport (contended by the movie to be in part class and social prejudice).
Some of the other “I”s decide to send the same death threats Tonya has received to rival Nancy Kerrigan / break her knee with a baton.
In negating Tonya’s responsibility, you can almost miss Tonya’s condemnation of Nancy being unhappy with only winning silver, when no doubt an interruption to the preparation for the Olympics could indeed have cost her the gold.


Well done PyeongChang

Closing as a dull Football League Cup final was to be played out, kinda worth reflecting on how intriguing the Winter Olympics have been, given the sports included get no coverage in-between times.
Step up the snowboard competitions, which have grown in variety and extent.  Great to watch, and in this instance helped by youthful and open BBC commentators.
Most amazing story also included a snowboarder, a Czech, who entered a traditional super G slalom skiing race almost out of annoyance and actually won.
The racing competitions were entertaining too.
Less impressive, the BBC presentations.
Most awfully hamming up the 500m short speed skater based in Nottingham, who was in tears when being forced out by an opponent.  Hours after crying on TV and being counselled on air by a BBC commentator, the skater was to acknowledge the nature of the sport and to regret her outburst.   Too late for the extensive bewailing led by Clare Balding.
Dreadful too was the commentary on the sled runs.  40 seconds of sports psycho-babble of mistakes being unaffordable, followed by assurance that a mistake made had not been that bad after all.
Also guilty of the over-use of the word “perfection” was Steve Cram and his colleagues on the curling.  The British curlers did not deserve to win medals, but at times they looked like they might.  It was gripping.  Then that astonishing loss of 5 shots by the men’s team against the hammer playing Switzerland.  And the loss of a bronze in the women’s competition with a shot that was apparently makeable more often than not.
Then, to cap it all, big boasts about Britain’s biggest ever haul of medals.  My hunch is that medals won as a share of medals available is not a record.  But the need to propagandiet is hard-wired.  Yes, a true success in skeleton; curling and bobsleigh – not so much.

Finally, another mention for the co-operation between the parts of Korea. Yep, it might come to nothing, but it was good to see.
That, and the reminder of the joy of watching people compete.
Guardian write-up here.

Last ticket

WP_20180210_20_11_13_Pro ab0751h arena Panthers Steelers
Mis-read the GMB Nottingham Panthers web-site and presumed I could turn-up at 1 minute to the hour and get a ticket, even though it was the derby against Sheffield Steelers.  Well, I did, but the last ticket available.  Really.
Lucky, eh?  Kinda, but it did finish 4-0 to the Steelers.  Panthers never looked like scoring and they made more and mistakes as the game went on.  The third from a defensive clanger by the last man. The fourth with 3 minutes to go when Panthers withdrew the net-minder hoping 6 out players might get one back – it took all of 20 seconds for that theory to fall apart.

Nottingham Post report.

Spirit of the Olympics

Opening ceremony of Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea
The ancient Olympics Games saw wars suspended so that all could take part.
In the modern games, boycotts began when African countries saw athletes from South Africa stopped by their own country for taking part for political / racist reasons.
The United States were wrong to boycott the 1980 Moscow games.
Ditto, the USSR boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles games.  Sadly, the UK let a South African athlete run  in our colours as the international community put pressure on the Apartheid regime.
I see North and South Korea competing as one, as a free hit.
Some are calling it a sign of weakness.
Too cynical.  It’s the Olympics.  Let some of the ancient spirit live.  It was great to see.

Salop fly high

Screenshot (812) ac0852h Salop at West Ham

OK, a bit of a tease about the ground.  Cos there was only just under 40,000 at the game and the Boleyn Ground could not have taken that at the end.
Salop have developed a highly competitive style, based on 3 excellent centre-backs, high pressing and robbing the ball from opponents.
Twist is, with only one forward, they struggle to create chances and are low-scoring.
Not “parking the bus”, but when they finally conceded after 201 minutes against West Ham, they were exhausted and there was no chance of an equalizer.
Joe Hart captained both games and came out with credit.  Salop wasted the 2 opportunities for a direct shot on goal.

Two engrossing games, but not for the outsider.

Cyrille Regis in a Shrewsbury shirt

So many spectacular goals by Cyrille Regis but not many will remember the one he scored wearing a Shrewsbury Town shirt.

Meeting an inswinger from the wing, getting ahead of the last line of defenders and powering in a header from 12 yards.  (“Good morning, ball”.)
Yes, 1981 and West Bromwich Albion wore either the classic navy & white stripes or the iconic green & yellow stripes – both deemed to clash with Salop’s blue & amber.  So when they drew Salop in the League Cup in an era before third strips (and universal TV coverage), the Albion had to wear our all red away kit.

It was a phenomenal match when the second tier side beat the top tier side 3-all at home.  By which I mean, the Albion were 3-0 up at half-time, thanks in part to Cyrille’s header, but we brought the game back to 3-all at full time (a last minute goalmouth dribble by Steve Biggins).

Regis’s death is so emotional for many reasons – the phenomenal footballer he was; Cunningham & Batson; that West Brom team; how he broke barriers for black players; the content of his character; that 59 seems no age for such a former athlete – and cos I witnessed it: vs Salop, vs Man U at The Hawthorns (1979) and the “match of the decade” (that wasn’t) at Anfield (also 1979).

It brings back memories of the racism – especially that gorilla chants were OK and good cos they put black players off (which I felt often was not the case – e.g. Wimbledon at home, Laurie Cunningham scoring at Old Trafford in the 5-3 victory).
You wanted to be on the Three Degrees’ side, cos of the victimization, cos it was right, and yes, because they were the heroes.

See Guardian tribute; and a cartoon tribute.  Look out also for the Youtube videos.

Welcome home

Confident of a scoreless draw, but hopeful of an occasion, it’s taken watching the full match coverage on tv to realise that it wasn’t much of an occasion except for the Salop fans who were there. We were engrossed for the first three-quarters.

Highlights from watching the game –
– pleased as punch to welcome Joe Hart back;
– delighted too that Dean Henderson was allowed to play by Manchester United;
– Salop were strongest in the second quarter and the pressing was excellent;
– our centre-halves Toto and Sadler were brilliant;
– When Sadler went off for five minutes, we actually kept the ball in their half.
WP_20180107_14_11_55_Pro (2) Salop shoot against West Ham
Didn’t appreciate until seeing the tv coverage –
– West Ham had played their strongest available team,
– West Ham only had 4 touches in our box;
– we’d booed a West Ham player who’d had a front tooth kicked out
(our scepticism kinda kicked off with Hernandez kneeling at kick-off and then hamming up a knock).