Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bolton's French Connection

French striker Nicholas Anelka met the press as a Bolton Wanderers player for the first time - and was supported by a second dangerous hitman, fellow countryman and WBA light-welterweight title challenger Souleymane "The Sensation" M'baye.

M'baye joined his fellow Parisian at the Reebok Stadium as he took time off from preparations for his clash against Raul Balbi at the Bolton Arena on Saturday night.

And record £8million signing Anelka will return the favour when he cheers M'baye on from ringside, where he will be joined by boxing fan and Wanderers manager "Big" Sam Allardyce.

"It's great to see Nicholas back in England and flying the flag for France," said M'baye. "I know he'll be a hit at Bolton - but I plan to make an impact first.

" As a nation we had a disappointing summer because of the World Cup, but I'll cheer up everyone back home by beating Balbi and winning the WBA title."

M'baye knows victory against Argentine hardman and former WBA lightweight title holder Balbi could pave the way to a string of lucrative fights.

And should he win, promoter Frank Warren is keen to match the 31-year-old against former WBA 140-pound champion Ricky Hatton.

"I know Ricky is making noises about dropping back down to fight at light-welterweight, so why not fight the winner of M'baye-Balbi and try and get his old title back," added Warren.

M'baye-Balbi is one of a number of mouth-watering fights on Frank Warren's For A Few Dollars More card at the Bolton Arena, headlined by Clinton Woods' IBF light-heavyweight title challenge against Glen Johnson. In a special six round attraction, Amir Khan fights Ryan Barrett.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sam's the Man

Sam Torrance ultimately imposed himself over his main challengers with crushing authority to retain the PGA Seniors championship title at the Stoke By Nayland Golf Club, carding an outstanding final round of six under 66 to win by three clear strokes. The resounding victory was the Scotsman’s 39th professional title, and ensured he regained the Number One Spot on the 2006 Seniors Tour Order of Merit.
The former Ryder Cup captain stared the day in a tie for second place with Argentine’s Luis Carbonetti, three shots adrift of the Italian Giuseppe Cali.
But Torrance gradually wore the Italian down to win the €48,936 first prize, and reclaim the top spot in the Order of Merit from Argentina’s Eduardo Romero with six events remaining on the 2006 Schedule.
His victory came after a long day at The Stoke By Nayland Golf Club after two suspensions due to lightning storms. Torrance was unaffected by the interruptions, as well the very fresh memory of his poor back nine of 40 less than 24 hours earlier, and leapt into the lead at the ninth, where he holed a 15 foot birdie putt.
He then made the tenth, statistically the toughest hole of the week, look easy, following up his excellent drive with a magnificent seven iron across the lake to 12 feet, before sinking the ball below ground with a single putt.
Further gains at the 12th and 16th ensured that any semblance of a fightback from either of his closest opponents was snuffed out.
"After yesterday’s disappointing back nine, I played really well today," said Torrance who posted a four round aggregate of 20 under par 268.
“Given the conditions, that was the best round of the four. I’m now looking forward to going back to Dalmahoy this week for the Scottish Seniors. I’ve happy memories there – I think I won by 15 shots the last time I won the Scottish PGA Championship about 15 years ago.”

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Rooney Considering Sponsor Strike

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has threatened to withdraw all co-operation with the English Football Association's (FA) commercial programmes in response to the three-match ban he was handed last week. United claimed it was informed Rooney would escape punishment following his red card against FC Porto in the recent Amsterdam pre-season tournament.

An independent three-man disciplinary panel backed up the view of referee Ruud Bossen that Rooney deserved to be dismissed for his aerial challenge on Porto defender Pepe, even though the TV replays showed the striker kept his eye on the ball as he jumped. The verdict drew an angry response from United, with captain Gary Neville describing it as "shocking", while new England coach Steve McClaren has declared it "unhelpful" as he tries to foster relations with the Premiership's major clubs.

Now, having taken legal advice, Rooney has hit back. And, in a letter to FA chief executive Brian Barwick, issued by his advisor Paul Stretford, copied to United counterpart David Gill, the 20-year-old is threatening not to allow his image to be used as part of any promotional campaign, or get involved in commercial events with FA partners. "Strong representation has been made to the FA regarding the imposition of this three-match ban, which Wayne Rooney feels strongly is entirely unjustified," said a spokesman for Rooney. In the letter, Stretford expresses "Wayne's complete dismay" at the decision, adding that Rooney feels "extremely let down".

The letter added: "While he will continue, if selected, to play for his country with pride and commitment, he is considering withdrawing his support for the FA's commercial programme: In other words, he will not allow his image to be used or exploited, or participate in personal appearances for and on behalf of the FA's commercial partners unless he is satisfied with how the FA conducts its affairs in regard to player matters." Rooney is now awaiting a reply to the letter before deciding on his next course of action.

Khan's Warning for Barrett

Amir Khan has welcomed Ryan Barrett's threats of causing an upset at the Bolton Arena on September 2 but has warned the Thamesmead tough nut: "There's only going to be one winner - me!"

Boxing wonderboy Khan has his first fight in his hometown in over a year since making his professional debut with a blistering one-round blow-out of David Bailey and Barrett is intent on spoiling proceedings.

The Olympic Silver Medallist, now unbeaten in eight fights with six knockouts, is chilled-out ahead of his big night and is not worried by Barrett's threats.

"Barrett can say what he likes now but he will have to back up his words a week on Saturday when we meet," said Khan.

"All the opponents that face me know that if they beat me then they've hit the jackpot, so I'm not surprised that Barrett is saying what he's saying"

"It doesn't put any extra pressure on me to perform, I'm just as cool as I always am and taking everything in my stride. I believe in my skill and ability and I'm improving all the time in the gym. Not only that but I'm maturing and getting physically stronger so Barrett is the one who is going to be in for a shock on the night,"

So what does Khan know about Barrett?

He continued, "I know that he's a tall, rangy, southpaw and has never been stopped in the 15 fights that he's had. He was in a tough scrap against Martin Watson which was an eliminator for the British title and he's ranked above me in the domestic ratings,"

"I respect all my opponents and I know that he's a fighter that I've got to beat to keep progressing in my career and move closer to that first title shot,"

He added, "I'm really looking forward to this fight, it's the first fight in my hometown for over a year and the Bolton public are desperate to see me back in action again so there's no way I'm going to let them down against Barrett,"

"I was at the Reebok Stadium last Saturday for Bolton Wanderers first home game of the season against Spurs and the atmosphere at the match was incredible and I know that it will be the same on the night I fight."

Monday, August 21, 2006

Blues Back in Business

Chelsea started the defence of their Premiership title in convincing fashion on Sunday, with a 3-0 home victory over Manchester City. The Blues opened the scoring in the eleventh minute when Arjen Robben’s free kick was won in the air by Chelsea’s club captain, John Terry, whose downward header left City’s goalkeeper, Nicky Weaver, stranded on the line, as the ball flew into the left side of the goal. Chelsea increased their lead in the twenty sixth minute, as Robben passed the ball to Michael Essien, whose delicate touch found Frank Lampard unmarked, who turned and fired a low long range drive, which took a deflection off Richard Dunne, before finding the back of the net. With City reduced to ten men in the sixty third minute, when Bernardo Corradi was sent off by referee, Steve Bennett, following a second offence for a challenge on Essien, the inevitable was to follow, as Chelsea grabbed their third goal in the seventy ninth minute, as link up play between Robben and Wayne Bridge, produced a carefully measured cross, that was met by a flying header from Didier Drogba, that sailed into the right hand corner, leaving Weaver helpless as City were left to count the costs of being outplayed by the reigning champions.

“We played very well, defensively perfect, the intensity of our game was very high, the quality of our passing game was very good, we scored three goals, we could have scored four or five easily, I think that we had the chances to do it, and we beat a good team, for me Man City is a good team, but we played very well,” commented Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho.

Referring to the fact that Chelsea’s next two away games are against teams that they had lost to last season, with trips to Middlesbrough and Blackburn, Mourinho felt that winning the opening fixture will give confidence to the team, as he continued:

“Not winning this game at home, would put some more pressure for us to play away and have responsibility to win, so I think this is good. My doubt now is are we fit enough to play three matches in a row, have we enough players in condition to play, three matches in one week, that’s my doubt. But the attitude was great, the quality was very good and I think every supporter goes home happy with the points but also with the way the team performed.”

Manchester City manager, Stuart Pearce, was left to pick up the pieces, and defend a dismal display by his team, as he commented:

“Whichever way you look at it, our season probably won’t be dictated by how well or badly we do at places like Stamford Bridge, it will be more dictated to how we do against the teams that are going be around us. But I thought we scrapped away very well, you go down to ten men at places like this, and you’ve got a big problem on your hands, they keep possession of the ball very well, your at full stretch at places like Chelsea, there’s no doubt about that, I found that out over the years, playing wise and certainly managerial wise, so I was pleased with the endeavour the players put in, we need to be sharp and focused again on Wednesday, and obviously we wish Chelsea the best.”

Khan Backs Bolton

Bolton Wanderers fan, Amir Khan gave the Trotters a lift during Saturday's opening clash of their 2006/2007 Premiership campaign against Tottenham at the Reebok Stadium.

The Olympic Silver Medallist featured in half-time activities to publicise his first fight of the new boxing season on Sports Network's mega-show at the Bolton Arena on Saturday 2nd September.

And Khan was delighted that manager Sam Allardyce and his players began the season with a 2-0 win over Spurs.

"I'm looking forward to the new season and going to as many Bolton games as I can depending on where and when I fight," said the 19-year-old star.

Khan was even close to predicting the pre-match score against Spurs, but missed out by a goal, as Bolton kept a clean sheet, with a solid defensive performance.

"I'm particularly looking forward to the game against Spurs and it looks like a tough one but with the return of Nicky Hunt, Kelvin Davies and new lad Quinton Fortune I reckon we will come away with a 2-1 win,"

"Big Sam's the main man at the club and he comes to most of my fights and I reckon with the quality of the team that he has now, this could be the year that he takes us to win the title,"

Unbeaten in eight fights with six knockouts, Khan is looking to put on a dazzling display for his home fans in his first fight in Bolton since making his professional debut there last year.

He added, "Just like the team have put in plenty of pre-season training, me and my trainer Oliver Harrison have been working away in the gym on plenty of new things and improving on the basics to begin my campaign for the new season that will see me challenge for my first championship title."

Clinton Woods v Glen Johnson III, for the IBF World Light-Heavyweight Championship, headlines a superb show that also features the Vacant WBA World Light-Welterweight title between Souleymane M'Baye and Raul Balbi plus Takaloo v Michael Jennings for the WBU World Welterweight title.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Venables set to return to England team

Terry Venables has been tipped to take a leading role in the English coaching team as Steve McClaren prepares to name his backroom team on Friday. Venables who was coach from 1993 to 1996 is predicted to be McCalren's full time assistant. The role of part-time coach is presumed to go to McClaren's assistant at Middlesborough, Steve Round succeeding Sammy Lee who resigned on Tuesday 8th August. Round will continue his work at Boro where he is a key figure in the backroom team of new coach Gareth Southgate. Ray Clemence, goalkeeping coach has already has his position confirmed.

The squad and team captain for the friendly against Greece on 16th August will also be announced on Friday. McClaren believes he has a strong, full team in himself, Venables, Round and Clemence ans is unlikely to appoint more members. However, Bill Beswick, sports psychologist may take a non-coaching role in the team.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Toro turfs K Club for the Ryder Cup

The 2006 Ryder Cup will be heading to Ireland this September
with the eyes of the golfing world focusing on The K Club's
Palmer Course, one of Europe's finest courses, equipped with
Toro's irrigation and turf management technologies. It will be
the culmination of a six year partnership during which The Toro
Company has been assisting The K Club in preparation for the
biggest sporting event ever witnessed in Ireland.

Toro is the Official Provider of Irrigation and Turf
Maintenance Equipment for The K Club, and has partnerships
formed with future European Ryder Cup courses over the next
decade. Toro's support for The Ryder Cup includes providing
irrigation system performance checks, ongoing involvement
with superintendents and grounds crews, on site technicians
to assist during the event, and additional turf equipment
including mowers, bunker rakes, utility vehicles and more.

"We're very proud and excited to be in partnership with both
The K Club and The Ryder Cup," said Mike Hoffman, president,
CEO and Chairman of The Toro Company. "Through this major golf
event, Toro's commitment topowerful innovations that help
increase playability and profitability can truly shine."

Since 1998, The K Club's Palmer Course has undergone incredible
changesin preparation for this September's Ryder Cup. Gerry
Byrne, course superintendent at The K Club, and his team have
added new greens, tees, and bunkers, introduced swale areas,
planted mature trees, reduced six fairway widths, and built a new
maintenance facility.

Ireland's cool, maritime climate poses certain challenges to
The K Club's course. Achieving a light footprint is important,
so Byrne relies on Toro to provide him with lightweight mowers
to easily and efficiently cut the fairways before and during

"In addition to Toro's equipment, we have wall-to-wall
Toro irrigation products installed on our golf courses and
we're very proud of it," said Byrne. "Toro has really been
there for me whenever I needed them."

Toro enjoys a long standing relationship with The Ryder Cup.
In 1997, The Ryder Cup took place in Spain's Club de Golf
Valderrama - a golf course that has used Toro irrigation
and equipment since 1986. In fact, Toro-equipped courses
have already been chosen to host all European Ryder Cup
matches through 2014.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Jennings goes to the Dogs

WBU World Welterweight title challenger Michael "The Lurcher" Jennings is a regular with his hunting dogs on the Lancashire Moors - and now he wants to get his teeth into champion Takaloo.

The 28-year-old fights for the WBU crown on Frank Warren's mega card at the Bolton Arena on September 2, but there will be no splashing out on a fancy holiday or a sports car if he wins.

Instead he'll take his three lurcher dogs - Tat, Tag and Zak - out rabbiting near his Chorley home, where he works with the permission of local farmers.

" There's nothing I love more than getting away from it all with my dogs, it helps me switch off from boxing," said Jennings. "I'll be celebrating my win by getting back to nature.

" The lurching season doesn't start until September, so the dogs are raring to go at the moment - a bit like me.

" I'll have been training for nine weeks come fight night, and trust me, Takaloo's going to be like a rabbit caught in the headlights when I pounce on him and rip him to shreds.

" Once the dogs taste blood there's no stopping them, and once I get into a fight, nothing stands between me and victory."

Former British welterweight king Jennings is certainly a man for the countryside - as well as lurching he goes Fell Running to keep in shape between fights.

" If I go on a long run it will be nine or 10 miles, and I go out most days come rain or shine," he added. "It's hammering it down at the moment but that won't stop getting out on the moors.

" I even do my sprints on the local hills. I've been asked to run competively, but I've just not got the time with all the boxing."

Jennings' busy life outside the ring also includes appearances as a drummer for punk band The Shoks, who play regularly in pubs on the north west circuit.

And he will be entering the Bolton Arena to one of the band's songs ahead of what he hopes will be his 29th professional victory.

Jennings-Takaloo is one of three world title fights on the Bolton Arena card, with Raul Balbi and Souleymane M'Baye duking it out for the WBA light-welterweight crown, and Clinton Woods defending his IBF light-heavyweight title against Glen Johnson.

UEFA Cup 2006-2007: First Qualifying Round, second leg

All teams in bold have qualified

SK Tirana 2 – 0 NK Varteks (aggregate: 3-1)
CSKA Sofia 4 – 1 Dinamo Tirana (aggregate: 5-1)
Litex Lovech 5 – 0 FC Koper (aggregate: 6-0)
FC Rànger's 0 – 2 FK Sarajevo (aggregate: 0-5)
NK Domžale 5 – 0 HNK Orašje (aggregate: 7-0)
Dinamo Bucharest 5 – 1 Hibernians (aggregate: 9-1)
Murata 0 – 4 APOEL FC (aggregate: 1-7)
Omonia 2 – 1 Rijeka (aggregate: 4-3)
Makedonija Gorce Petrov 1 – 1 Lokomotiv Sofia (aggregate: 1-3)
K.S.V. Roeselare 5 – 1 FK Vardar (aggregate: 7-2)
Sliema Wanderers 0 – 1 Rapid Bucharest (aggregate: 0-6)
FC Vaduz 0 – 1 Újpest FC (aggregate: 4-1)
Karabakh 1 – 2 Zimbru Chişinău (aggregate 2-3 a.e.t.)
BSC Young Boys 1 – 0 FC MIKA (aggregate: 4-1)
Kairat Almaty 2 – 1 Videoton (aggregate: 2-2)
Dinamo Minsk 0 – 0 Zagłębie Lubin (aggregate: 1-1)
Spartak Trnava 0 – 1 Karvan (aggregate: 0-2)
FC Banants 1 – 2 Ameri Tbilisi (aggregate: 2-2)
Nistru Otaci 0 – 1 FC BATE (aggregate: 0-3)
FC Tobol 0 – 0 FC Basel (aggregate: 1-3)
WIT Georgia 2 – 1 Artmedia Bratislava (aggregate: 2-3)
Drogheda United 3 – 1 HJK Helsinki (aggregate: 4-2, a.e.t.)
Valur 0 – 0 Brøndby (aggregate: 1-3)
Llanelli 0 – 0 Gefle IF (aggregate: 2-1)
Skonto 3 – 0 Jeunesse Esch (aggregate: 5-0)
Etzella Ettelbruck 0 – 3 Åtvidabergs FF (aggregate: 0-7)
GÍ Gøta 0 – 2 Ventspils (aggregate: 1-4)
S.K. Brann 1 – 0 Glentoran (aggregate: 2-0)
ÍA Akranes 2 – 1 Randers FC (aggregate: 2-2)
Kaunas 1 – 0 Portadown (aggregate: 4-1)
Sūduva 2 – 1 Rhyl (aggregate: 2-1)
FC Haka 1 – 0 Levadia Tallinn (aggregate: 1-2)
I.K. Start 3 – 0 Skála ÍF (aggregate: 4-0)
Flora Tallinn 0 – 0 Lyn Oslo (aggregate: 1-1)
Derry City 1 – 0 IFK Göteborg (aggregate: 2-0)