Sir Alex Ferguson, a famous cycling family, and the week’s best sportswriting

September 9, 2021 0 By HearthstoneYarns

Timmy Hammersley in action for Tipperary in 2013.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

1. Listening to Timmy Hammersley’s story and message, it echoes the opening page of a new book for young people from his friend Tony Griffin: I HAVE A VOICE GOD DAMMIT!

And a bit like John Farnham urged in the same year Hammersley was born and Richard Stakelum declared Tipp’s Munster famine as over, he maintains that with your voice you should make a noise and make it clear. Not sit in silence, not live with fear, as he sometimes did when he was younger.

Former Tipperary hurler Timmy Hammersley was the subject of Kieran Shannon’s Big Interview in the Irish Examiner last weekend.

2. The documentary builds to a climax with United winning the treble in 1999 when they scored two goals in the last three minutes to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the Champions League final. Did he really believe late in the game that they could still win? “No chance! I was thinking what I’d say to the players: ‘You had a great season.’ But then we won it.”

Ferguson made his famous “Football? Bloody hell!” comment in the immediate aftermath and hailed his team’s extraordinary spirit. They would “never give in”. That phrase gives the documentary its title. Ferguson nods when I say the most moving part of the film for me is when he reads the letter he wrote in hospital to Cathy, his wife of 55 years. It’s a letter full of gratitude for her and a little regret that he was consumed by work.

“It was a thank you, really,” he says, “because at the stage I was still not sure which way it was going [if he would live or die].”

Sir Alex Ferguson.

Source: PA

Sir Alex Ferguson and his son, Jason, speak to the Guardian’s Donald McRae on the film they’ve just made, and much, much more.

3. It was while wearing the Ireland shirt that McLoughlin scored the goal for which he’s best remembered: a superbly-taken left-foot volley that cut through a sea of limbs (most of them seemingly attached to Niall Quinn) to secure qualification for USA ’94 on a poisonous night at Windsor Park.

Jack Charlton joked that the goal had justified McLoughlin’s existence for the last three years, but it was a strike years in the making, dating back to his days as an apprentice at Manchester United, where he’d spend hours honing his technique against a training ground wall.

The Guardian’s cartoonist David Squires pays tribute to the late Alan McLoughlin, his first football hero.

4. Kevin Kimmage still has the bike.

The Giant Cadex has been collecting cobwebs in his shed for a while now, but it’s too special to ever part with.

Thirty years ago, Kimmage rode the bike to victory in the 1991 Rás, a win that put him firmly on the road to the Barcelona Olympics.

It was also hugely significant for his famous cycling family.

His father Christy had been national champion in 1962 and between Kevin and his three brothers — Paul, Raphael and Christopher — they had won nearly every race on the domestic scene.

“But the one race the family had never won was the Rás,” says Kimmage.

“It was nice I won it, but it really didn’t matter to me that it was me. It was just right that a Kimmage name was on the winners list.”

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Kevin Kimmage reflects on winning the Rás with David Coughlan for the Star.

Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates with Robert Firmino after Liverpool’s second goal against United on Thursday night.

Source: PA

5. Few players have embodied Liverpool’s travails this season as faithfully as Alexander-Arnold. One minute you’re a virtual unknown; the next you’re one of the hottest footballing properties on the planet and the taker of perhaps the most famous corner in history; the next you’ve lost your England place and everyone has basically agreed that you can’t defend. This is a familiar cycle of boom-and-bust, one that has claimed many a talented 22-year-old in the past. But somehow over the last few weeks, something seems to have stirred in him: a fortitude and resilience that we perhaps expected to see, but not necessarily this soon.

‘Alexander-Arnold reminds us why we love football amid outside drama,’ writes Jonathan Liew, also of the Guardian.

6. All this talk of Covid and the Olympics, but did you see the white flag go up? Do you realise the dopers have won? Do you know the war on drugs is over? It has been lost. The good guys have been beaten. The bad guys are calling the shots.

It was heading that way for a long time but a few things have happened. Actually, the Giro this week was one, a big cycling classic with all the bells and whistles. It wasn’t so much the race itself as that long ribbon of colour snaking across Italy, a reminder of the big surrender that has taken place. And nobody seems to mind that much.

Johnny Watterson shares his thoughts on doping in a column for The Irish Times.

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