Dyed beards and lucky stones: Crazy Gang lives on at AFC Wimbledon | Barry Glendenning

The successors to the 1988 FA Cup-winning side have revealed the unusual practices they hope will help them beat MillwallWhile his teammate Scott Wagstaff sits in the home dressing room at Kingsmeadow getting his bushy ginger beard dyed bright blue and yellow, the AFC Wimbledon midfielder Anthony Wordsworth is in the President’s Lounge telling reporters about his lucky stones. The original FA Cup-winning Crazy Gang may have been uprooted and moved to Milton Keynes many moons ago, but at the fan-owned phoenix club which replaced it there is still an apparent undercurrent of madness.Quiet and unassuming, Wordsworth is anything but deranged, although at one point he teetered on the brink. As a Southend player, he suffered the trauma of losing his beloved older brother, Steven, to a heart attack, a bereavement that led to a slump in form and eventually left him without a club. Picked up by Wimbledon, he is looking forward to an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Millwall on Saturday following his side’s demolition of West Ham. Continue reading...

16-02-2019

'Humble and generous, but a private enigma' - who was Leicester City's owner?

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is revered in Leicester as the man who presided over one of sport's great triumphs - but who was the billionaire Thai businessman?

16-02-2019

Olivier Giroud’s backheel helps Chelsea see out first-leg win in Malmö

European competition has offered Maurizio Sarri some respite. Chelsea may not have dazzled in southern Sweden, and the Italian was infuriated by the late concession that has left the tie more delicately balanced than he would have hoped. But, in the context of the wounds inflicted recently on his team at Arsenal, Bournemouth and Manchester City, any victory away from home, however workmanlike, is to be cherished.Malmö’s late reward, taken neatly on the gallop by Anders Christiansen as he burst away from Mateo Kovacic and on to Markus Rosenberg’s pass, will pep Swedish belief in next week’s return leg. Sarri was still cursing that collective sloppiness when, in stoppage time, Ross Barkley was caught in possession and the home fans briefly, tantalisingly, even sensed they might pull level. That opportunity was snuffed out by a mess of yellow-shirted bodies, though the head coach, a man on edge, made his exasperation very clear. Continue reading...

16-02-2019

FA Cup: Flynn, Arteta & Henry, the unlikeliest WhatsApp group

The WhatsApp group featuring Newport County's Michael Flynn and Mikel Arteta - not to mention Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg - was a little busier than usual last Sunday evening.

16-02-2019

World sport: 10 photos we liked this week - 22-28 October

A selection of the most striking sports photographs from around the world this week.

16-02-2019

Matti Nykänen, the Flying Finn who fell so far, so fast | Andy Bull

The ski-jumper, who won five Olympic medals, had an otherworldly talent but not the sense, or support, he needed to cope with the fame it won himMatti Nykänen used to fly so far, so fast that it felt as if he would never come down. When the Finn broke the world ski jump record for the fifth, and final, time at Planica in 1985 he was moving so quickly that the cameraman struggled to track him through the air.Watching the footage you wonder if he might disappear into the yonder off the far side of the screen. In those days, the mid-1980s, Nykänen was the best ski jumper in the world and almost unbeatable. The records were the least of it. He won five world titles, five Olympic medals, including three golds in one Games, and four World Cups. Continue reading...

16-02-2019

Super League v NRL: is the northern hemisphere bridging the gap? | Aaron Bower

As Wigan take on the Roosters in the World Club Challenge, Super League needs to demonstrate the English game’s healthIt is said that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and never has that mantra been more applicable to a sporting event than in rugby league’s World Club Challenge. Of the 26 previous versions of the event to determine the best club side in the sport – dating back to the inaugural unofficial clash between Sydney and St Helens in 1976 – there have been more tweaks and changes than most league fans would care to remember.From the ill-fated, expanded 1997 edition, in which British clubs performed disastrously amid millions of dollars’ worth of losses, to the short-lived World Club Series of recent seasons, the format has never discovered its panacea. The purported disparity between the sport’s two elite competitions, Super League and the NRL, has long been cited as the reason why the competition has never properly taken off but, as Wigan prepare to host the Roosters on Sunday in the latest instalment, just how big is the gap between the two? Continue reading...

16-02-2019

Is Tottenham's run of 30 league games without a draw a record? | The Knowledge

Plus: Old Trafford’s mysterious semi-final snub, back-to-back penalty misses and unused subs. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU“Tottenham have currently played 30 consecutive Premier League games without drawing one,” notes Wouter van Dael. “What is the longest ever such league run?”The short answer is that Spurs are Premier League record-breakers, Wouter, but only just. “Bolton previously held this title with a run of 28 games between March and December 2011,” writes James Clarke. “But in the wider context of English league history, Spurs have a long way to go yet. Twenty-nine clubs have had longer streaks without a draw at some point – and seven have gone more than 40 consecutive league games without a stalemate: Birmingham (43 games), Walsall (44), Leicester (44), Bradford Park Avenue (44), Stoke (46), Sunderland (46) and Aston Villa (51). Although it is probably worth noting that Sunderland’s is the most recent of these, coming comparatively recently in 1908-09. The slightly interesting quirk here is that five of these seven draw-less clubs are midlands teams.Season 2017-1830 Apr Spurs 2-0 Watford5 May West Brom 1-0 Spurs9 May Spurs 1-0 Newcastle13 May Spurs 5-4 Leicester Continue reading...

16-02-2019

FA People's Cup: Romance FC - the female five-a-side football collective

Meet Romance FC - the collective of creative women from East London who are playing in this year's FA People's Cup.

16-02-2019

Reece Prescod tones down social life in quest for world championship gold

Sprinter has stopped going out at nights and replaced house music with reading to prepare for the worlds in SeptemberReece Prescod is as disarmingly honest as he is dizzingly fast. So when the 22-year-old is asked whether he ever feels a devil on his shoulder trying to distract him from becoming the world’s best sprinter, he smiles, says “Yeah, yeah, 100%” and then adds bluntly: “To me there is no point in going on a night out if you are going to be half-hearted. If I am going out, I go full sesh.”Full sesh, it turns out, is a few drinks at a meal, followed by a few more afterwards and staying out until the small hours – which is hardly ideal when one’s intention is to win Olympic 100m gold in Tokyo. But Prescod says in recent months he has changed; these days he is scanning the bigger picture, not chasing short-term pleasures. Continue reading...

16-02-2019

Ben Morgan’s late try gives Gloucester space to see off Exeter Chiefs

• Gloucester 24-17 Exeter• Bristol 22-29 WaspsGloucester beat the league leaders, Exeter, at Kingsholm thanks to a Ben Morgan try three minutes from time on Friday night.Jason Woodward and Willi Heinz scored Gloucester’s other tries while Billy Twelvetrees converted all three and kicked a penalty. Exeter’s tries came from Nic White and Tom O’Flaherty. Joe Simmonds kicked a penalty and conversion with Gareth Steenson also adding a conversion. Continue reading...

16-02-2019

Wigan’s Tom Davies: ‘I came to terms with the fact I wasn’t going to make it’

The winger talks about his arduous road from working in the pavilion at Leigh to lining up in the World Club ChallengeWhen the superstars of Sydney Roosters take to the field at the DW Stadium on Sunday evening in the 2019 World Club Challenge, the Wigan winger Tom Davies may be forgiven if he takes a moment to look around and pinch himself. He is already a Super League winner at the age of 22 but only a few years ago Davies would have been thought more likely to be watching his hometown club from the stands than being on the pitch as the Warriors aim to be crowned the best club side in the game.“I came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to make it,” says Davies. The journey for most talented young players in Wigan is often fairly simple: they are snapped up by the club’s junior development system at a young age and eventually progress to the first team. Davies’s story could not be more different. Continue reading...

16-02-2019

Chris Smalling says Manchester United are once again a team to be feared

• Defender says team playing their best since Alex Ferguson era• United away to Chelsea in FA Cup on MondayChris Smalling can draw on his own challenging childhood when talking to the pupils of Salford City Academy. He is there as the new patron of Football Beyond Borders, a charity that hopes to provide stability and hope for disadvantaged youngsters. Smalling’s glittering career shows how difficult beginnings can be overcome. The 29-year-old lost his father as a child and was raised on a council estate, the family requiring social security. Related: Kylian Mbappé’s teleportation device leaves Manchester United floundering | Barney Ronay Continue reading...

16-02-2019

Sebastian Vettel backs Ferrari’s ‘extreme’ design in bid for F1 title

• Four-times F1 champion ‘really excited’ by Ferrari’s new car• Mattia Binotto says team ‘tried to be as extreme as we could’Sebastian Vettel is confident Ferrari have the car to mount a strong fight for the Formula One title . The team unveiled the SF90 at Marenello on Friday as they attempt to end more than a decade without winning F1, with the team principal, Mattia Binotto, describing the design as an “evolution” pushed to be “extreme”.The car is named to recognise the 90 years since Enzo Ferrari established the Scuderia at Modena in 1929. Since then they have competed in every F1 championship and are the most successful team in the sport. However they have not won the drivers’ championship since Kimi Raikkonen’s victory in 2007 and the constructors’ since 2008. Last season their challenge fell away as Vettel made mistakes and the team failed to match the development of Mercedes. Continue reading...

16-02-2019