Archived entries for Olympics

Frank Keating: The Highlights

Frank Keating Book Review Sports Writing

A review of a collection of over 50 years of great sports writing from Frank Keating, the Guardian Journalist who died in January 2013.

Compiled and edited by Frank Keating’s former Guardian colleague and sub-editor Matthew Engel, this wide-ranging collection of pieces from the late sports journalist who died in 2013 is a window into both the world of sport in the twentieth century and also Keating’s own art, his writing. There is very rarely a sentence not packed full of punch, sentences which are woven together to make articles that transcend match reports, interviews, profiles, obituaries, previews and reviews into a sum greater than their parts.

Keating’s skill is clear in this highlights package from work that spanned over five decades: he could take a one answer interview and turn it into a polemic, a history lesson or a reportage, while painting several pictures at the same time. Engles notes in his introduction that Keating sometimes took artistic license to the words of his interviewees to add a flourish in-keeping with the flair he himself consistently produced in his work, never misrepresenting them, Engles argues, rather delivering a more genuine portrayal of his subjects that the anodyne responses controlled by a PR spokesman who only allows clichés, platitudes and statements of the bleeding obvious.

The book contains Keating’s filed articles on genuine sporting heroes including Muhammad Ali, Ian Botham, Bill Nicolson, Basil D’Oliveria and Harold Larwood; there are the stories about unsung heroes from loyal servants at Fulham and Port Vale via golfing academies; and there are the brief encounters with the famous from other arenas such as Trevor Howard, Mother Theresa and John Betjeman. Continue reading…

Anniversary Games Diamond League Athletics

Usain Bolt London Anniversary Games Diamond League

Twelve months on from London 2012, the Athletics Diamond League London Grand Prix, with the adopted name ‘Anniversary Games’, had many of the elements of last year’s great Olympics; everyone was nice to each other again, and the crowd was a large mix of people, across all ages, male and female and of both different races and nationalities. Contrary to the pre-Games cynicism from some, it turned out the achievement of bringing the Olympics to London by Tony Blair’s New Labour Government and Seb Coe created not just community spirit, but gave Great Britain the nearest feeling to socialism there has been in generations. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Olympic Park 30 June 2013

Bruce Springsteen by Lilly Allen for The Substantive (portrait)

Fifteen days before a swift return to London, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band played the whole of Darkness on the Edge of Town, the second part in a wonderful three-act performance at Wembley Stadium; it is an album he has described as having the toughest songs he had at the time, uncompromising in the spirit of the emerging punk music of the day and still what he sees as the essence of the band. London and Wembley Stadium were privileged.

With a deserved reputation for being flexible there was little doubt the headline performance at the newly opened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for Hard Rock Calling would bring a few different songs from an amazing back-catalogue than those at Wembley and it turned out to be another album show, this time with the back-to-back tunes of Born in the USA in the middle of the set. Continue reading…

Hard Rock Calling Kasabian Weller The Twang

The Olympic Park opened as music venue on Saturday 29 June 2013 as the new host for the Hard Rock Calling Festival in London, with the first day full of guitar based acts including Kasabian, Paul Weller, The Twang and The View.

For all the written words, radio documentaries and television seasons about ignored and neglected communities there is one tribe who still seem to have been treated as invisible for years: the British indie music fan. With original independent music hijacked as a vehicle for bland, middle-of-the-road music marketed to masses of bed-wetters there has been little both original and sensational in the indie bucket in UK in the last ten years, with the exception of the Arctic Monkeys; so, it is no surprise that when The Stone Roses return they are celebrated like a literal resurrection and that even the Saturday at Hard Rock Calling 2013 is pounced upon like a rubber bone thrown in the direction of a starving dog.

There is no Arctic Monkeys, who headlined Glastonbury the previous night, but instead four stages of decent enough music with a number of acts who all have elements of a passionate following. It was far from a sell-out and there were many tickets given away free by organizers who wanted both a spectacle and a captive audience for their £5 pints but  many were there primarily for the bands.

The day attracts lots of people who want to believe in the music, many of whom, throughout the day, spend much of their time turning away from the stage to intently sing the lyrics to the person they are with; they range in ages, from the young who weren’t around in the early nineties, to those who probably not only bought Style Council records on release, but now have haircuts for which their faces look slightly too old. Continue reading…

Olympics London 2012: One Year On

London 2012 - How was it Front Cover

Editor of the new book London 2012 How Was It For Us? Mark Perryman wonders how much one year on Team GB transformed Great Britain as a nation

Many believe that London’s 2005 bid to host the Olympics bid was given the edge over the favourite, Paris, by Seb Coe’s passionate promotion of London as a multicultural city, a home to the world. As the bid presentation ended in Singapore Seb introduced on stage thirty youngsters “ Each from East London, from the communities who will be touched most directly by our Games.” This was on 6 July 2005. The very next day of course London would be rocked by explosions on the London Underground and bus system, 7/7. The juxtaposition couldn’t have been more dramatic, with many, too many, blaming the atrocities on the very multiculturalism that Seb had been celebrating as London’ virtue via the thirty star-struck youngsters beside him on the Singapore stage: “ Thanks to London’s multicultural mix of 200 nations, they also represent the youth of the world. Their families have come from every continent. They practice every religion and faith.” Continue reading…

Two Wheels Are Better Than One

Victoria Pendleton by Lilly Allen

With the Tour de France starting on 29 June Philosophy Football’s Mark Perryman argues cycling is part of a progressive society. (Picture by the illustrator Lilly Allen, commissioned by The Substantive).

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. – HG Wells Continue reading…

Cycling Books 2012

Accompanied by an exclusive illustration of Victoria Pendleton by the artist Lilly Allen for The Substantive, Mark Perryman declares Cycling ‘Sport of the Year’ and chooses his favourite books from 2012 inspired by life on two wheels. Details of The Substantive t-shirt with a Lilly Allen design at the bottom of this piece.

Never mind the BBC hyped-up hoopla of ‘Sports Personality of the Year’, for most successful British sport of 2012 surely nothing comes close to cycling. An extraordinary first, and second, places for British riders in the Tour de France, a hatful of medals in the Olympic velodrome, more on the road too, and by the autumn a new generation of winners breaking through on the track in the World Cup series too. The achievements, matched by an explosion of popular participation is truly breathtaking. Continue reading…

Wheelchair Basketball – Being There

Having been to Equestrian and the Olympic Park at London 2012, Tom Bodell went to North Greenwich for his first experience of Wheelchair Basketball in the Paralympics, where, for just ten pounds, he saw Team GB compete .

It’s fair to say that my relationship with basketball is minimal, save for the odd lesson at secondary school and the even more infrequent dabble with the NBA video game. That isn’t to say that I don’t like basketball, it’s a sport which interests me but it does happen to fall at the bottom of a long list of other sports.

However, with a spare Friday on my hands & possibly my last chance to frequent an Olympic or Paralympic event in my lifetime, £10 seemed a steal. Continue reading…

The Return

The new football season has entered quietly through the back door just seven weeks after the Final of European Championship, a tournament consuming at the time but now a distant memory in the shadow of an Olympics that brought a festival of sport to London as enjoyable as any in modern times. Every four years the Summer Olympics inspires in some-way, but sport of the highest quality played to capacity crowds in great venues with a captivated public took this summer’s Games to another level.

Following the success of Team GB is an unenviable task for the home nations’ national sides, and earlier in the week International teams played their annual August friendly games with the usual weaker squads, which as always provided little excitement. England’s pattern of play looked better in Berne in Italy than at any time so far under Roy Hodgson, with Michael Carrick, incredulously ignored in the summer, at the heart of a five-man midfield who actually looked comfortable in possession at times. Despite Hodgson’s semantics about both Carrick and tactics in his press conferences, maybe he has learnt from his mistakes.

In the first weekend of the English Premier League there was a quick glimpse of the entertainment sport as a spectacle brings as newly promoted Southampton briefly came from behind to take the lead at the Manchester City, cheering watching neutrals across the country tired of hearing City’s manager Roberto Mancini bemoaning the depth of his richly assembled squad after every game. Continue reading…

Olympics: Schools Legacy

Martin Cloake points out the knee-jerk policies and soundbites coming from the London Mayor and Tory Ministers following the success of the London 2012 Olympics highlight a Government back-tracking on funding decisions while perpetuating myths on competition that undermine technique and do little to encourage initial participation and activity.

Apparently, we’re all sports fans now

The Olympics have caught the public’s imagination so much that promoting school sport and getting kids involved in sport has suddenly become a hot issue. This is a good thing, but let’s get rid of some some of the bluster and codswallop. Setting something up on poor foundations is almost as bad as not setting it up at all.

A week ago I worried that by making the point that there needed to be a reversal of the cuts in facilities and time devoted to sport would be condemned as ‘playing politics’. Playing politics is a term used by politicians to dismiss something they don’t want to acknowledge. But now, this Government is falling over itself to make political capital out of the success of Team GB, and to rewrite history in the process. Continue reading…



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