Category: women

The All-Male SPOTY 2011 nominees

By , 7th December 2011 00:02

BBC Sport opened a hornets nest when it managed to produce an all-male shortlist for its 2011 Sports Personality of the Year Award. Chrissie Wellington, who secured her fourth Ironman triathlon world title in October 2011, provided one of the most thoughtful critiques of the nomination process, the underlying gender-bias of Britain’s sporting media and its domination by football and a handful of other sports.

The Sports Journalists’ Association has highlighted that its members have a rich selection of female British world champions to choose between when casting their votes for its own Sportswoman of the Year Award. The favourites for their Sportsman of the Year Award closely resembles the SPOTY shortlist.


View SPOTY 2011 – the nominees in a larger map

In its annual effort to discern possible voting patterns, Sporting Landmarks has once again mapped the home towns of SPOTY nominees. All four home countries are represented in this year’s SPOTY shortlist and cycling’s road race world champion Mark Cavendish represents the Isle of Man for the third year running.

Once again Northern Ireland has two nominees who will be seeking to keep the trophy in the Province after AP McCoy’s victory last year. However not only will the loyalties of Northern Ireland voters be split two ways between Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke, Hemel Hempstead’s Luke Donald will also be competing for votes from golf.

Both ‘Londoners’ were actually born in Africa. Mo Farah, atheltics’ 5000m World Champion was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, although he moved to the East End as a boy. He is still affiliated with Newham & Essex Beagles according to UK Athletics although his training base is currently in Portland Oregon in the USA. Andrew Strauss arrived in England aged six having been born in Johannesburg, South Africa: Lords has been taken as the spiritual home for the Middlesex and England cricketer on the map.

Dai Greene from Llanelli will have to compete with Farah for the athletics vote but should have the first call on votes from Wales. Andrew Stauss will need to see-off Gloucester’s Alastair Cook for the support of cricketers.

Andy Murray looks to have a clear run at both Scottish and tennis votes while Amir Khan is the only boxer and the only finalist from Northern England.

The 2010 results also suggest that non of last year’s contenders – or their supporters – managed to fully exploit twitter to mobilise support even though nine of the ten finalists were tweeters. Graeme Swann had more than 116,000 followers in December 2010 but only came 9th with 13,767 votes. The winner, AP McCoy, secured 293,152 votes – nearly 42 percent of the total poll – but had only 971 twitter followers – the second lowest. Will social media be any more influential in 2011?

Royal visitor for Irish sporting landmark?

By , 7th April 2011 16:01

Speculation that the first state visit by a British monarch to the Republic of Ireland will take in Croke Park prompted this thoughtful piece in the Irish Times on the position of sport in the often turbulent relationship between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain.

Croke Park is the spiritual home and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The GAA was established as the ‘Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of National Pastimes’ on 1 November 1884 partly in response to the growing popularity of sports such as soccer and rugby that had been codified in Victorian England. The Football Association had been established in 1863 before rugby formally broke away as a separate sport in 1871. By the time the seven founders of the GAA met at the Hayes Hotel, Thurles, Ireland had already made its international debut in rugby – against England at the Oval in February 1875 – and soccer, under the auspices of the Belfast-based Irish FA, at the Knock Ground, Bloomfield in February 1882.

Today, the GAA embraces and promotes gaelic football for both men and women, hurling, camogie, handball and rounders.

Since its founding, the GAA has demonstrated a dogged determination to fulfill its remit to preserve Irish sporting culture. Until as recently as the 1970s, a GAA member caught playing soccer, rugby or cricket could be stripped of their GAA membership. Rule 42 of the Association’s constitution prohibited the use of GAA property for games deemed to be in conflict with the GAA’s interests – most commonly interpreted to include association football, rugby and cricket. The suspension of this rule in 2005 paved the way for Croke Park to host major rugby and soccer matches during the redevelopment of Dublin’s Landsdowne Road between 2007 and 2010.

An indication of the Association’s success is the fact that with a capacity of 82,300, Croke Park is the third largest stadium in Europe – after the Barcelona’s Camp Nou and Wembley.


View Sporting Landmarks in a larger map

The stadium is invariably packed for the annual All-Ireland finals in Gaelic football, hurling and camogie, . The 82,208 people who attended rugby’s Heineken Cup semi-final between Munster and Leinster on 2 May 2009 set a world record for attendance at a club/provincial rugby match.

Even in a proud republic, the stadium which is the mecca for Gaelic sport enthusiasts is a sporting landmark fit for a queen.

Enniskillen – birthplace of women’s rugby

By , 11th January 2010 23:43

Hot on the heels of my post on the origins of sevens rugby, Simon Barnes wrote about a landmark for women’s rugby in a footnote to his column in today’s Times.

According to Barnes, the earliest recorded instance a woman playing rugby relates to a match at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen in Northern Ireland in 1885.

The school, founded in 1608 and sometimes referred to as the “Eton of Ireland”, endured difficult times in the 1880s.  The brief history on the school’s website suggests that this might have been due, in part, to the reaction of the then headmaster to the tragic death of his son in a boating accident.

For the match in question in 1885, a depleted school roll meant  the school was short of players so fielded a team that included the daughter of the acting headmaster.  The woman was believed to have been one Miss E. F. Valentine, who together with her three brothers, were instrumental in establishing rugby at the school in 1884.

Apparently Miss Valentine went on to become Mrs Galway and later emigrated to South Africa but her christian name is unknown.

Portora’s contribution to women’s rugby isn’t currently noted on the rugby page of its website.  Is it recorded in Portora: The School on the Hill, published to celebrate the quatercentenary of the school in 2008?

Women’s rugby has come a long way since Miss Valentine first took her place as a three-quarter.  The sixth Womens Rugby World Cup will be staged in England between August 20 and September 5, 2010.  Matches will be played at the Stoop, Twickenham and Surrey Sports Park, Guildford.

The first and second Womens Rugby World Cups were also staged in Britain.  The first WRWC was hosted in Cardiff in 1991.

The USA beat England 19-6 in the final in Cardiff on 14 April 1991.  England and the USA met again in the second final in Edinburghin in 1994.  This time, the tables were turned with England running out 38-23 winners.  New Zealand has reigned supreme in the next three tournaments: Amsterdam (1998), Barcelona (2002) and Edmonton (2006).  A review of past tournaments can be found on the RWRC website.

Britain’s sporting museums, galleries and collections

By , 21st November 2009 22:39

The map below shows the locations of sporting museums, galleries and collections in Britain.  It includes institutions involved in Our Sporting Life as well as other museums and collections mentioned in the June 2006 Sports Heritage Network Mapping Survey by Annie Hood.

Many are dedicated to a particular sport. Others are museums with a more general remit which include significant collections with a sporting connection.

There are currently 56 collections featured on this map. It’s probably no surprise that 11 of the museums – the biggest group – are dedicated to football. As one of the longest established organised sports, cricket accounts for seven establishments. Follow the link at the foot of the map to see a listing of the museums alongside a larger map.

Museums related to hunting have been included on the grounds that national hunt racing, equestrianism, and shooting sports have the pastime in their ancestries. Its also worth remembering that before Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, in Britain the word “sport” was most often associated with hunting and angling.

It’s interesting to see that sporting museums can be found the length and breadth of Britain. Let me know if you know of any I’ve missed.

PS: its a shame Google maps doesn’t offer icons for archery, motor sport, cricket, shinty, fencing, shooting, badminton, rugby or tennis!

View Britain’s sporting museums and galleries in a larger map

‘Wembley for women’ aspires to rival Goodison Park

By , 24th September 2009 16:26

GoodisonParkIn September 2009, the Guardian reported on Nottingham Forrest’s plans for a new stadium and its vision to offer their proposed new home as a venue for future finals of the Womens FA Cup and England’s womens internationals.

The article applauded the promotion of the womens game by both Forest  and Nottingham City Council and their contribution to attracting a record attendance of 24,582 to the 2008 womens cup final held at the City Ground.

Notwithstanding the England womens team’s achievements at Euro2009, there is still some way to go before womens football regains the heights it enjoyed before it was banned by the Football Association in 1921.   The record crowd for a womens football match in England is 53,000.  The match took place at Everton’s Goodison Park on 26 December 1920 when the remarkable Dick, Kerr’s Ladies works team beat St Helens Ladies 4-0.

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