Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

About Me

Friday, 26 September 2014

Easy Ryder

When I was a kid my mum said to me the reason she liked tennis over football was because the better player always won.  She didn't like it when the top dog lost.  She thought is was unfair.  Almost like it went against the spirit of the game.  That stuck with me for some reason. 

I've always felt that if the best player always wins then what's the point in watching?  Surely unpredictability is a main draw of sport.  I tire of watching a tennis tournament which invariably ends up with the same two or three players taking part in the end stages.  It's almost like there's no point building up to the semi-finals.

I've also always struggled with individual sports because they rely too much on just that, the individual. Take snooker of instance.  It's one thing to support a unhinged Alex Higgins battle South London's finest Jimmy White but those clashes are far and few between.  Money and professionalism has driven most of the idiosynchratic people out of sport.  My interest has waned to the point that I would struggle to pick out the world's top five snooker players if they were stood in a dole queue.

And anyway why do you want one player to win over another if there isn't a local affinity or character trait to support?  When it comes to golf I've always struggled to care when one identikit millionaire beats another.  The only point of difference the colour of their trousers. Team sports show what is possible when people work together.  They also present the illusion the combatants are representing a region or country.  The individual is fighting for themselves the team for the flag, the shirt, the fan.

For me the beauty of sport is exactly what my mum hated.  The against all odds comeback, the motley crew taking on the world's best and winning.  Every dog should have its day and I want to be there cheering when it does. And these moments happen much more regularly in team sports than individual.  Where collective resolve can sometimes upset individual brilliance.

Which brings us back to the only golf event I care about.  I'm not sure when I first became aware of the Ryder Cup.  I can't remember watching it in the 1980's and can't conjure up a memory pre 1999 when the Americans invaded the green. I guess it was that sense of outrage that fuelled my fire.  Because it is an event I have kept a close eye on ever since.

They might be the same millionaires that make me glaze over for the other 51 weeks of the year but band them together beneath a European flag.  Then pit them against a team from across the Atlantic and suddenly I'm interested.  Come on Europe!

And the home of golf is where I find myself this week.  Gleneagles.  On talkSPORT duty once more.  Back in Scotland a month after a fleeting trip to the Commonwealth Games. For another experience money can buy but only if you're prepared to shell out hundreds of hard earned pounds.

The thousands who have done just that started queuing for optimum vantage points at 5.30am.  I turned up ten minutes before the 1st tee.  Not for the first time in 2014 I consider myself a lucky guy.

Now which team is playing in blue and which team is playing in red?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Super Mario

I couldn't help but smile when Mario Balotelli scored for Liverpool tonight. I half wanted Ludogorets to win. In truth, I actually cheered when they equalised. Now that is the magic of the cup! Though there's something about the sulky one though that I find really endearing.

I was working in Poland throughout Euro 2012 and so in a great position to take a few snaps along the way. My final match of the tournament was the semi-final between Balotelli's Italy and Germany. Balotelli has already scored one goal when he took control of a long pass, steadied himself and then slammed it into the net. I took the photo just as the ball left his boot. It's the best photo I've ever taken. So to mark the occasion of his first goal for Liverpool here it is.