Several A/K/A Random's 'sporting blues'
Heh-heh-heh. It's WAY past Post deadline and I don't have any brains. Good tennis last weekend, heading into the Wimbledon strawberries and cream (add vodka as needed) after the red clay of Roland Garros. The teenaged Spaniard Rafael Nadal won the men's and Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne the women's in emotional matches.
Nothing much happened in AmSports, except the set-up to the pro basketball finals, which will this weekend feature the solid (but capable of fast-breaking) San Antonio (Texas) Spurs against the defending champion Detroit (Michigan) Pistons, who play more of a defense, don't make no mistakes-type game.
The ladies' pro golf championships are also this weekend, at a new location in Maryland. Defending champion Annika Sorenstam goes for her second of the ladies' Grans Slam victories, and I don't understand why there are 28 South Korean women in the field. Too many Lee's and Kim's and I get more confused trying to figue out which is which.
In baseball, the season is roughly one-third over, and it's time of the rumours of trades before the 31 July deadline, as teams have sorta settled in to the six-month baseball odyssey of baseball, airplanes and hotels, and management is deciding who they wanna keep paying, and who they can pay for those they don't. This 'guaranteed contract' status is annoying.
So that's it, blessed be The Post and our Esteemed Editor for this weekly Place to write our Stuph, may The Force be with The Infinite Impossibility Drive... and hand me another Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, please... ah, thank yew, thank yew ver' much.
This may possibly be several, a/k/a random, over and out.
Elsewhere, in a Small Place Called Europe
EURO 2005, the UEFA Women's European Football Championship, began last weekend in the North-West of England. Five venues across the region are being used for the tournament - the City of Manchester Stadium hosted the opening match, Bloomfield Road in Blackpool and Blackburn's Ewood Park have three games each, while the Halliwell-Jones Stadium in Warrington and Deepdale in Preston have four.
The tournament features eight teams split into two groups of four- Group A based in Manchester, Blackburn and Blackpool and featuring England, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, while Group B, based in Warrington and Preston, being the location of France, Germany, Norway and Italy. The top two from each group qualify for the Semi-Finals.
So, let's look at the results of the opening round of matches:
Sunday 5th June 2005:
Sweden 1-1 Denmark (Blackpool)
England 3-2 Finland (Manchester)
An exciting start for the host nation as England take a 2-0 lead by half-time, centre-forward Amanda Barr causing trouble, forcing an own-goal and then being credited with a goal as the Finnish goalkeeper was adjudged to have failed to clear the ball before it crossed the line.
The Finns made a comeback after the break, scoring on the hour and then equalising in the 90th minute, seemingly denying Hope Powell's England team. However, 17-year-old forward Karen Carney popped up in stoppage time for England, creating a chance for fellow A-Level student Eni Aluko, and then poking in the rebound when Aluko's shot was blocked. The game was watched by a crowd of 29,029 spectators, a record for European Women's football.
In the other Group A opener, Sweden - one of the favourites - struggled, drawing 1-1 with Denmark.
Based on these opening games, England look to have a battle on their hands to make the semi-finals, but I think they'll just pip Denmark to finish second to Sweden.
Monday 6th June 2005:
Germany 1-0 Norway (Warrington)
France 3-1 Italy (Preston)
The first match I attended in the tournament was the game in Warrington, a battle between the top two ranked sides in the world, and I was very impressed with No. 2 ranked Norway, who created a lot more than Germany and were unlucky that the German goalkeeper Silke Rossenberg was on such good form. The Germans, other than Rossenberg, were less impressive. In the absence of star player Birgit Prinz they were of little threat to Bente Nordby's goal. The attack looked toothless and it took midfielder Conny Pohlers to create something from out of the blue to give them the goal that separated the sides.
What did surprise me inside the Halliwell-Jones Stadium was the presence, in the East Stand where I was based, of the entire Swedish squad, plus the non-playing staff. They were apparently doing some research on their possible semi-final opponents.
Elsewhere, France dominated Italy in Preston, storming into a three goal lead before being pegged back slightly. The French did look potent, but I still think it'll be Norway who join Germany in the semis despite their early setback.
This article was written before the conclusion of Wednesday's fixtures (It's currently 6.15pm and England are drawing 0-0 with Denmark1), but here are the remaining fixtures of the tournament:
Wednesday 8 June, Group A: England v Denmark (Blackburn), Finland v Sweden (Blackpool)
Thursday 9 June, Group B: Germany v Italy (Preston), Norway v France (Warrington)
Saturday 11 June, Group A: England v Sweden (Blackburn), Finland v Denmark (Blackpool)
Sunday 12 June, Group B: Italy v Norway (Preston), France v Germany (Warrington)
Wednesday 15 June: First Semi-Final- Winner Group B v Runner-Up Group A (Preston)
Thursday 16 June: Second Semi-Final- Winner Group A v Runner-Up Group B (Warrington)
Sunday 19 June: THE FINAL, Ewood Park, Blackburn.