Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Walking Dead Follow The Script

By Shane Thomas

There is a sporting aphorism favoured by football journalists, pundits, commentators and bloggers in moments of incredulity. "You couldn't script this!" I remember the filmmaker, Spike Lee expressing similar sentiments before the final game of the epic series of matches between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees back in 2004 (for which I highly recommend you watch the 30 for 30 documentary, "Four Days in October").

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

La Decima: Real's Obsession. Mourinho's Salvation

By Shane Thomas

When Real Madrid president Florentino Perez moved to get Jose Mourinho as the head coach of Los Blancos, it seemed something of a no-brainer. Mourinho had just delivered an unprecedented treble for Inter Milan, with the coup de grace being a 3rd European Cup/Champions League title. This was all the more significant as it was Inter's first since 1965 - despite their worldwide renown, Inter had been perennial underachievers in Europe's top tier competition.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Diary Of A Pessimistic Arsenal Fan - Arteta Gets The Clock Ticking Again

By Shane Thomas


You could feel it from Arsenal station all the way up to the Emirates Stadium. As the throngs of fans took their seats, the primary emotion was one of anxiety. Last weekend's miserable display against Swansea was a harsh slap to the face for the club. Had we turned up to see a painful repeat?

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Diary Of A Pessimistic Arsenal Fan - Where Has Our Arsenal Gone? Oh, There They Are. And They're Not Very Good.

By Shane Thomas


On a matchday that began with a march from the Black Scarf enclave of discontented Arsenal fans ended with the entire Emirates Stadium in a state of disgust by the limp performance that led to a 2-0 defeat to Swansea; a result which was fully merited by Michael Laudrup's side. After the march, came the rancour.

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Diary Of A Pessmistic Arsenal Fan - Arsenal Extinguished By Villa's Fire Blanket

By Shane Thomas


Arsenal gave a performance that mirrored the miserable weather in Birmingham yesterday, as the match against Aston Villa ended in a drab goalless draw that by no means flattered the home side.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Tennis' Big Four in 2012

By Shane Thomas

As 2012 is drawing to a close, it's been another sensational year in the world of men's tennis. And once again, the sport's "big four" of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have led the way. Here's a look at how the calendar year has been for all four men:

Friday, 9 November 2012

Football Fan, Are You? Think Again.

By Shane Thomas

I'd wager that if there were a question on the next national census, "Do you consider yourself a fan of sport?If so, which is your favourite", the most popular answer would be football. By popular consensus, football is the national sport, a constant talking point in the media, and a regular source of conversation in workplaces and pubs. So why do so many people seem to know so little about the game?

Friday, 26 October 2012

The Diary Of A Pessimistic Arsenal Fan - Arsenal's Listlessness Continues

By Shane Thomas


Arsenal moved from a state of slight concern into discernible worry after their second moribund display in five days, which resulted in a deserved loss to the Germans, Schalke. To paraphrase the sporting aphorism, Arsenal lost 2-0, and were lucky to get nil.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

This Sporting Ego

By Shane Thomas

As William Shakespeare wrote, "All the world's a stage". And many of sport's most fascinating stories are from the athletes who view their profession as exactly that; a stage for them to display their talents.

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Olympic Diaries of a Yorkshireman: Part Two

By Jonathan Wilkinson

As relevant as always, and over two months after the event, here is part two of my Olympic Diary

Day Two: Freebies, underdogs and table tennis

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Why Lionel Messi Was The Best Thing To Happen To Cristiano Ronaldo

By Shane Thomas

Sunday night continued the vintage era of clasicos between Real Madrid and Barcelona, with the game ending in a breathless 2-2 draw. But the latest chapter in this magnum opus may go on to be one of the most indelible in the memory, simply because it showcased both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in all their splendour. And while history is likely to judge Messi as the finest of his - and possibly any - era, a lot of credit must go to Ronaldo for this.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Diary Of A Pessimistic Arsenal Fan - Lethargic Arsenal Narrowly Avoid Greek Tragedy

By Shane Thomas


Arsenal secured their second successive win in this season's group stage of the Champions League, and once again, it was a hard fought victory, with many nervous moments for the home support.

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Diary Of A Pessimistic Arsenal Fan - Arsenal's Pride Matches The Champions

By Shane Thomas


Arsenal continued their recent good record against the English champions by earning a hard-fought 1-1 against Manchester City. Despite going a goal behind, the Gunners unbeaten run to the season persists, as they keep the Premier League pacesetters in their sights.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Hillsborough: The True Failings

By Shane Thomas

The Hillsborough independent panel's verdict was said to send shockwaves throughout the English game. People were reputedly stunned by the revelations that the accountability for the tragic deaths of 96 Liverpool fans should no longer be aimed towards the supporters, but towards the ostensibly esteemed organisations of the South Yorkshire Police, The FA, sections of the English newspapers and the British government.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Diary Of A Pessimistic Arsenal Fan - The Worth Of Arsenal

By Shane Thomas

After last Sunday's victory over Liverpool, things are a touch rosier in the Arsenal garden. However, that was in marked contrast to the mood amongst many fans a few days previous. Press reports swiftly emanated that Theo Walcott had decided against signing an extension to his contract with the club, which will expire at the end of the current season.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Olympic Diary of a Yorkshireman - Day One

By Jonathan Wilkinson

The athletes have gone home, the rules of handball have been forgotten, and football is dominating the sports pages again, but for two glorious weeks our lives were dominated by the greatest sporting event in the world.
As one of those lucky enough to get tickets, here are my thoughts on my time in London:

Monday, 27 August 2012

The Diary Of A Pessimistic Arsenal Fan - Arsenal Profligate But Show New Found Maturity

By Shane Thomas


Expect many people to state that the spectre of the departed Robin Van Persie will continue to loom over Arsenal, as they failed to score for the second successive game. The 0-0 draw against Stoke may frustrate Gooners, but there was enough from the game to suggest that this latest squad possesses a quality not seen at the club for a good few seasons.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Why The Olympics Matter

By Shane Thomas

After the wondrous Olympic Games in London, I expect I'm already preaching to the congregation with this piece. However, what happened in Britain over the past few weeks bears repeating. And yet, for so long, the thought of the greatest show on Earth reaching these shores was met with indifference.

The pessimism and apathy had begun to dissipate as the Opening Ceremony drew closer, and then a political gaffe from Mitt Romney only expedited this, failing to realise that like one's family members, you can listen to the complaints, but under no circumstances join in - it almost makes me want to see him become America's President just to see how his visit to Downing Street would pan out.

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Diary Of A Pessimistic Arsenal Fan - The New Signings

By Shane Thomas

So, 2011/12 ended as a season in which Arsenal got away with it, and scraped into the Champions League for the 13th successive campaign. Their star man, Robin Van Persie has departed, and Alex Song is likely to join him. However, the club approach the 2012/13 season with a degree of understated optimism.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Bolt's Riposte To The Mortals

By Shane Thomas

As Usain Bolt crossed the line first in the 200 metres, cementing himself as the greatest sprinter of all time, the doubts and whispers about him disappeared into the London ether. But Bolt never forgot.

Pendleton vs Meares: The Eternal Question

By Shane Thomas

We've seen some extraordinary things at these Olympics, but in the lead-up, there were few events that I wanted to see more than the culmination of one of the most enthralling sporting rivalries for a generation; Victoria Pendleton versus Anna Meares.

While Pendleton could claim first blood, after taking gold in the keirin, the focus would rightly be on the women's sprint, which took place on the final day of action in the Velodrome.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Britain's Golden Child

By Shane Thomas

Jessica Ennis. The face of London 2012. Such a nice girl, isn't she? Wouldn't it be lovely if more people were like her?

Let's stop this one-sided view of Britain's latest sporting icon. Behind the courteous persona and schoolgirl demeanour lies a soul-deep core of competitive steel. The nation's sweetheart? I doubt her opponents in the heptathlon think so.

The Greatest Day

By Shane Thomas

Caught your breath yet? Good, then I'll begin. Saturday, 4th August 2012. If there's been a better day in the history of British sport, then those that were there to see it were seriously lucky.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Ruta Meilutyte: The Olympics Anna Paquin

By Shane Thomas

Have you ever seen the actor Anna Paquin's speech when she won an Oscar for her performance in the film, The Piano? Before Paquin was better known for starring in the X-Men films and True Blood, and spent far too much of her career getting her ti... sorry, I'll save my True Blood rant for another day.

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Rivalries To Light Up London 2012

By Shane Thomas

While the Olympics is often the setting for breathtaking dominance; Jesse Owens in '36, Mark Spitz in '74, Carl Lewis in '84, Usain Bolt/Michael Phelps in 2008, there's nothing like a great sporting rivalry. Watching one great athlete in action is a treat, but watching them have to compete against an equal makes for compelling sport. Excellence is a special thing. Excellence + Drama = must-see television. For example, Bolt in full-flow is a sight to behold, but knowing that there's a realistic chance he won't win gold adds a delicious frisson to the 100 metres. 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Come In London: The World Is Watching

By Shane Thomas

It's so easy to forget these days, but when the concept of organised sport was incepted, it was done so for the sheer thrill of competition. An elemental concept, tapping into the human desire to see how much we can achieve. It's this phenomenon that elucidates just why the Olympic Games continue to hold such relevance.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Olympics Stars #9 - David Rudisha

By Shane Thomas

Can you name the most dominant track & field athlete of the past few years? Usain Bolt? Sally Pearson? Yelena Isinbayeva? Look again. If you want to hang a gold medal around someone's neck before the Olympics begin, your best bet is David Rudisha.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Olympic Stars #8 - Victoria Pendleton

By Shane Thomas

Britain have three gilded queens who are going to the Olympics. Jessica Ennis on the track, Rebecca Adlington in the pool, and Victoria Pendleton in the Velodrome. But unlike Ennis and Adlington, Pendleton brings a magnitude of emotional baggage to go with her crown.

A superb recent BBC documentary exposed what was common knowledge to many sporting observers. Pendleton is one of the most compelling and fascinating athletes of her era - in any sport.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

England's Final Test

By Shane Thomas

England have been a significant power at the top end of world cricket for long enough now to prove that it's no fluke. Fans can rub their eyes and realise they're not dreaming. After a generation of enduring mediocrity, and sometime worse, the phrase "English cricket" is no longer a national punchline.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Olympics Stars #7 - Ryan Lochte

By Shane Thomas

Four years ago, there was only one name in the pool worth speaking about; Michael Phelps. The Baltimore Bullet set Beijing alight, winning a record eight gold medals, and writing his name into the annals of sporting history for time immemorial. It was an astonishing achievement, arguably the greatest in the history of sport.

However, London's Aquatic Centre may be the setting for swimming's next superstar. Phelps countryman, Ryan Lochte will arrive as not just an equal to Phelps, but maybe his superior. After playing a significant role in helping Phelps to his eight golds (being part of America's 4/200 metre freestyle relay team), Lochte may end up denying Phelps his place on top of the podium this time around.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Olympics Stars #6 - Laura Trott

By Shane Thomas

In the lead-up to London 2012, it's oft forgotten that the Olympic Games are a sporting event that tends to be a launching pad for the next generation of sporting superstars. Unlike the World Cup, Wimbledon or the Superbowl, the Olympics lends to an explosion of stardust for previously unknown names, rather than underscore the skills of the marquee athletes whom we already know. It's what the Spanish call llegada.

Olympics Stars #5 - Sally Pearson

By Shane Thomas

While Australia often show up to the Olympics with hopes of finishing high in the medal table, it's not often that they look to the track for their successes. But in Sally Pearson, the 100 metre hurdler, they have arguably the most likely gold medal that we'll see in the Olympic Stadium.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The History Men

By Shane Thomas

In the build-up to last night's Euro 2012 final, one pundit sounded a word of warning to Italy. He stated that while Spain had reached the crescendo of the competition, they had done so without performing to their best. Rather than use this as a positive omen, he thought it was more of a portent, as Spain were due a top-class performance.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Olympics Stars #4 - Rebecca Adlington

By Shane Thomas

Rebecca Adlington arrives at the Olympics as one of Britain's marquee names. But it's easily forgotten how rapidly her star ascended during the Beijing Games four years ago.

She went to China as little more than an up-and-coming 19 year old, one of those talented kids who's only going to the Olympics for the experience, and on a good day, could maybe, just maybe, nick a medal.

That optimistic forecast came to pass, but it wasn't a bronze Adlington went home with, but two golds.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Getting Bored With Spain? Here's Why.

By Shane Thomas

One of Euro 2012's subplots has been the fates of Spain. The reigning champions advanced to the semi-finals after beating an insipid France 2-0. But why have their displays been met with such indifference, and even annoyance at times?

Friday, 22 June 2012

England vs Italy: Hodgson's Twin Problems

By Shane Thomas

As previously stated on these pages, England have shown up to Euro 2012 a humbled, docile team. And it's worked pretty well so far. But there's a potential problem. The consensus of the punditocracy oscillates wildly where England are concerned; they're either world-beaters or hapless dolts. While good fortune has smiled on England in Poland and Ukraine, they deserve credit in reaching the quarter-finals, topping their group no less.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

England Without The Bounce

By Shane Thomas

Going into an international tournament as an England fan, we all knew the drill; get the beers in, get the flags out, and get down to your local bookies to put £10 on England to win the competition. In conjunction with the television, radio & print media, the nation would be whipped into a chimeric fugue-state, our boundless optimism not in keeping with past experience or rational footballing analysis. The hysteria England would inspire at a World Cup or European Championship was so potent that even those who normally avoided the sport would venture opinions on players, formations and strategy (all ill-informed of course).

Friday, 8 June 2012

Trading Places

By Shane Thomas

There has been a very evident aspect to this past football season. European football's major powers, the teams that you would expect to win their respective league titles, the ones who you would regard as bankers for your betting accumulators, had by their standards, a fallow season.

Euro 2012 Preview

By Shane Thomas



The co-hosts are the lowest FIFA ranked team in the tournament, but there's a history of hosts (or co-hosts) overachieving at the Euros; Sweden in '92 and England in '96 being strong examples.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Meet The Progenitors

By Shane Thomas

For almost  a generation, it was said that a team needed one crucial element to able to function effectively. I only need to use one name to illustrate this point; Claude Makelele.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The 2011/12 Premier League Club Review

By Shane Thomas

One of the most common misnomers in sport is the word "great". Greatness is often ascribed to a sporting event or occasion when what one means to say is "eventful" or "dramatic".

There's no doubt that this past Premier League season was chock-full of excitement and drama, but great is was not. Greatness comes from a high standard of excellence. So while this season wasn't the greatest (that probably goes to either the 1998/99 or 2007/08 season), the past nine months were arguably the most dramatic seen on these shores. In the order of where each club finished in the league table, let's go through the clubs:

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Big Names To Miss Euro 2012

By Shane Thomas

While football fans can expect to see some of the European game's most coruscating talents at Euro 2012, every major tournament sadly comes around with certain stellar names being left at home. So with that in mind, here are ten players who - for reasons of injury or non-selection - will not be performing in Poland and The Ukraine this summer:

Open letter to Olympic NIMBYs : Relax, smile and enjoy the summer

By Jonathan Wilkinson

Sometimes I think that Britain doesn't deserve to host top sporting events the amount of moaning I have witnessed from people in the run up to the Olympics. We have heard it all, from it costing way too much money in such economically troubling times to the worries about London's transport system struggling to cope with such an influx of people, and then the complaints about the amount of coverage that the torch relay is getting. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

2011/12 Premier League Team Of The Season

By Shane Thomas

Do we really need a lengthy introductory paragraph here? The Premier League season's over. Here were its best players - with special mentions for a few others:

* - denotes my player of the season


Joe Hart (Manchester City)

Friday, 25 May 2012

All Hail The (Nearly) Invincibles

By Shane Thomas

2006 is forever remembered as a golden time for Italian football, with the national side winning that year's World Cup. But Italy's international glory was sullied by a story much closer to home. It can be summed up in one word: calciopoli.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Champions League Final Special

By Shane Thomas

It's not easy to sum up Saturday's astonishing night in Munich in a blog post. So I won't waste time trying. The links below are my best attempt to appraise one of the most extraordinary nights of what was been a pretty extraordinary season of football:

How Chelsea's extraordinary campaign could only have been scripted beforehand:

Ratings for both starting XI's in the Champions League Final:

How rolling the dice finally paid off for Roman Abramovich:

Arjen Robben falls short yet again in a major final:

"The Greatest Events in Sporting History" is available to download from, e-mail us at and you can follow us on Twitter @TGEISH

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Gambler Who Could Afford To Keep Rolling The Dice

By Shane Thomas

It's seldom that a person succeeds in any walk of life without having something of a gambler's instinct. Playing it safe only gets you so far, and in football, Roman Abramovich is a man who's rolled the dice ad nauseum.

Chelsea vs Bayern Munich - Match Ratings

By Shane Thomas


Petr Cech (8)

Has atoned for some sub-par performances earlier in the season, with some stellar displays at the back-end of the campaign, and he was brilliant again in Munich. A major part of the rearguard that kept Bayern at bay for 83 minutes, and his two saves in the penalty shoot-out played a crucial role in Chelsea's victory.

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Keys To Beat Bayern Munich

By Shane Thomas

In a few hours time, Chelsea take to the Allianz Arena to contest the Champions League final against Bayern Munich. Chelsea have endured a turbulent season, and have reached Saturday's final in spite of the lack of stability at the club. After a 6th place finish in the Premier League - their worst league position since 2002 - they are left needing to win in Munich to compete in the tournament next season. Bayern - with home advantage - go into the match as favourites, but not overwhelmingly so. Here's four key areas that could expedite the West Londonders upsetting the form book yet again:

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Running The Rule Over The England 23

By Shane Thomas

With the domestic season reaching its finale, attention begins to turn to this summer's European Championship in Poland and the Ukraine. Yesterday, new England manager Roy Hodgson selected his squad of 23 for the tournament, which as always with England squads, has provoked debate and consternation in some quarters. So let's go through the squad, and see where Hodgson got it right, and wrong: