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Posts Tagged ‘ Bolton Wanderers ’

O’Brien Looking Forward to Cork Clash

Joey O’Brien is relishing the opportunity to return to his homeland when West Ham United go on pre-season tour to the Republic of Ireland.

The senior Ireland international was born and raised in Dublin before moving to England when he signed for Bolton Wanderers at the age of 16. Continue reading

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The Top Five Football Moments of 2012

twSo December 21st came and went, the earth didn’t fold in on itself and the world didn’t end, though if you are an Aston Villa fan, one could be forgiven for thinking that way. But for the rest of us the planet has stubbornly continued to spin and instead of humanity’s untimely doom we look forward to another year of football – hopefully as full of surprises, ecstatic triumphs and memorable moments as its predecessor. And so, in no particular order –

5. Lionel Messi surpasses Gerard Muller

Messi finishes 2012 with a remarkable haul of 91 goals, in the process breaking the 40-year-old record of Gerd Muller who in 1972 scored 85 goals in the calendar year. What can you say about Messi that hasn’t already been repeated infinitely by thousands of misty eyed fans and pundits? This is yet another boundary smashed by the young Argentinean; one which will surely add another stumbling block to the path of Cristiano Ronaldo as he keeps chasing his Barcelona rival for the as yet elusive title of the best player in the world.

4. Manchester City become noisier neighbours

Despite the fact that they had hundreds of millions sunk into the club since their wealthy Arab owners took over, silverware was still proving somewhat elusive for the blue half of Manchester, particularly the Premier League crown which would, amongst other things, force their rivals at Old Trafford to finally reset their infamous banner, counting the years since City last won a trophy. The 2011 FA Cup triumph was only the beginning and City battled hard to take the throne from United, and due to a combination of resilience, a remarkable collapse from the red half of Manchester and some serious last day drama courtesy of a late winner from Sergio Aguero against QPR, the trophy which had eluded the club since 1968 was finally back in their hands.

3. Fabrice Muamba unites football

Everyone’s heart went out to the former Bolton player when he suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed during the first half of a cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Bolton’s club doctor later revealed the severity of the situation; Muamba’s heart having stopped for 78 minutes. But two weeks later, pictures emerged of the player sitting up in hospital smiling. Though all Muamba wanted to do was get back on the pitch and start playing again, it wasn’t to be and on the 15th of August 2012 he announced he was retiring from the game, based on the advice of his medical staff. What we can all remember, however, is the reaction from fans and players alike all around the world; an immediate and immense outpouring of concern for the player which united football on a truly global scale.

2. Abramovich’s dream comes true

2012 was a year for big wins under somewhat surprising conditions, as Manchester City proved in early May and Chelsea highlighted not too long after. The latter stage of the blues’ journey to the Champions League final was quite impressive; beating Barcelona is no easy feat and Chelsea formed a wall around their goal as solid as concrete. Skip forward to the Allianz Arena on the 19th of May 2012 and their opponents were an impressive Bayern Munich side, on home turf, in the Champions League final. Bayern had control for much of the match and it appeared as if it was going to be just another one of those days for the blues, Muller taking the lead in the 83rd minute. Against the run of play, Didier Drogba scored just five minutes later, taking the game first into extra time, then to penalties, where all of Bayern’s hard work was undone, missing two key penalties and handing the initiative back to Chelsea as Drogba, taking his final touch for Chelsea, sent Manuel Neuer the wrong way to finally seal Roman Abramovich’s dreams of European glory.

1. Glory for the Bhoys

It’s not really surprising that Barcelona feature, in one way or another, three times in this list. But once again (sorry Barcelona) it is to highlight the impressive nature of any team which manages to beat their particular brand of flowing football. Mankind loves nothing better than an underdog. It’s why countless films are full of lesser people rising up and overcoming the odds stacked against them, why on shows like Survivor those who seem unlikely to win often receive a lion’s share of the support. These are people we can relate to, people like us, on our level, and we love them for trying for a share of the spoils. Football is no different. Which is why, when Celtic faced off against Barcelona, so many of us were silently or not so silently willing the Bhoys on. The stage had been set perfectly. Their first meeting with the Catalans in October had ended in a 2-1 defeat; Celtic had played with fire and heart, having taken the lead in the 18th minute through Samaras, though an equaliser on the stroke of half time and a late, late goal from Jordi Alba broke Scottish hearts. And in early November they faced Barcelona once more, a day after celebrating their 125th anniversary, and still hurting from a defeat in which they gave so much and took so little. The result, now, is emblazoned in history. But for a 91st minute Messi goal which briefly threatened another bitter disappointment, Celtic were 1-0 up and looking quite equal to arguably the greatest club team in the world, taking everything which was being thrown at them with verve and aplomb, and looking every bit as threatening each time they took their chance to break. And then, from a Fraser Forster kickout, that next bit of European magic happened, as Xavi missed his attempt at putting the ball back in Celtic’s half, as 18-year-old Tony Watt latched on to the ball and fired his way into the back of Victor Valdes’ net and Celtic’s history books. The stuff of legend.

*As with any football list there will be much arguing over what was and wasn’t included and why in particular this list is so very wrong. Please not this is a list rather than the list. Though 100 per cent correct all the same.

LOI Star Receives Death Threat Over Controversial Muamba Tweet

A top League of Ireland player has come under fire for sending a controversial tweet to an ill fan of his former club.

Sean O’Connor, who has just rejoined Shamrock Rovers from fierce rivals St Patrick’s Athletic became embroiled in a Twitter row with Pats fan John Doyle, who told the player to “go and break a leg up in Tallaght”. The PFAI player of the year nominee replied by tweeting “hahaha ok muamba, careful u don’t drop now!! Dodgy ticker”.

The sick tweet which makes reference to ex Bolton Wanderers star Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed and died before he was brought back to life during a match, ends with a picture of a broken heart.

The tweet was poking fun at Doyle, a well regarded Pats fan who collapsed and almost died on the pitch during a fixture in September last year. Doyle was lucky to survive thanks to the rapid response from the emergency services. He was hospitalised for three weeks and underwent surgery to have a defibrillator inserted. To compound his misery he lost his job during this time.

O’Connor has never been far from trouble. The self confessed Pats fan was involved in an incident with the club’s fans while attending a match during his first spell as a Shamrock Rovers player. He infuriated fans by kissing the Rovers crest and making numerous hand gestures in their direction.His departure from Pats has been acrimonious, as he refused to make contact with the club after they offered him a new contract.

Since his illness John has being campaigning to highlight the issue of Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS), also known as Sudden Adult Death Syndrome throughout the League of Ireland and has admitted that he is shocked by the treatment he has received from players who once supported him and the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland (PFAI), who retweeted much of the conversation. He appreciates the PFAI should support their players where relevant but highlighting a player’s arrogance towards an injured party is extremely unprofessional.

Doyle explained his initial reaction was limited but the more he thought about it the more annoyed he became. “To be honest I tried to laugh it off but the more I taught about it the more I was sickened. For a ‘Professional Footballer’ to say such a thing is disgusting. St Pats are a club who have had their share of heartache from this illness from club legend Charles Livingstone and current player Ger O’Brien (both of whom have been affected from SADS). “

He also highlighted other ex players and fans who were directly affected by SADS.

Other former Pats players such as Brian Shortall and Daryl Kavanagh also chose to attack father of three Doyle. Brian Shortall offered a similar tweet to O’Connor stating  “will you stop arguing giving out all d time you’ll give yourself a heart attack”  while Kavanagh defended his ex teammates by stating those who give abuse should be able to take it in return. Kavanagh, who recently moved to Cork City, has since issued an apology.

O’Connor has since been the subject of some online abuse, including a death threat since posting the tweet about Doyle. The Pats fan had no knowledge of the tweet, which was sent from an English based football fan. Doyle said “For a player to receive a death threat for anything in my eyes is unacceptable but social media opens up the channels for this to happen.

Banter is banter but there is a line that should not be crossed, this goes from taking the mic out of a serious illness to death threats.”

Doyle revealed that he felt an injustice had been lifted by his decision to talk “If it was players on the other end of the abuse there would be uproar but because I’m a fan it’s not as newsworthy.”

O’Connor has apologised for his tweet but Doyle will not be accepting his apology.

 

When Football Meets Tragedy

Football has long been associated with tragedy and unwanted headlines. From the 1985 atrocity at Heysel to the 1989 disaster at Hillsborough the football world became engulfed in shock and horror at such incidents that will never be forgotten.

But since the turn of the noughties a different kind of footballing tragedy as quickly emerged and the game has really brought a lot into perspective this past weekend. On Saturday Tottenham hosted Bolton Wanderers in an FA Cup quarter final. A lively and pulsating affair had to be abandoned shortly before half time after Bolton star Fabrice Muamba collapsed in the centre of the pitch. White Hart Lane fell silent as the severity of what had happened became apparent. Players and fans alike were distressed as the former England under 21 star lay still on the ground.

Shortly after Muamba was rushed to a London hospital details began to emerge as to what had actually happened the Zaire born star. Muamba had suffered a cardiac arrest and remains critically ill. The world of football has united in rallying around the fallen Trotters midfielder and some remain fearful that he may never be able to play again. Of course though football plays second fiddle to life itself and if Muamba can come out of this unaffected then he will have won footballs greatest battle.

Fast forward to Sunday and the footballing world was still in shock yet few could have imagined such harrowing events to bear a reoccurrence just a day later. Kilmarnock had beaten Celtic 1-0 in the Scottish League Cup final to win their first ever League Cup and in doing so denying the Hoops the chance to win the treble. As the players celebrated at the final whistle, Liam Kelly`s joy turned to grief as he was informed that his father had suffered a heart attack in the stands. Kelly rushed down the tunnel to be at his father’s bedside but Jack Kelly passed away at approximately 5pm yesterday afternoon. Kilmarnock players and fans have dedicated the win to Jack but football has really been put into perspective this weekend.

But the combination of football and tragedy is not a new thing yet on field tragedies have become all too regular in the past decade.

Perhaps the earliest and most notable case came in the death of Cameroon international Marc Vivien Foe who perished during a Confederations Cup tie in 2003. His death was viewed as a rare occurrence yet other notable footballers such as Benfica starlet Miklos Feher and  Espanyol captain Dani Jarque suffered a similar fate. Spain and Sevilla star Antonio Puerta also died as a result of cardiac arrest he suffered during a game with Getafe.

Some players have been lucky to survive such instances. Reuben De La Red`s glittering career at Real Madrid was cut short due to a heart problem and Longford Town star Sean Prunty saw his career abruptly ended after a medical showed up a heart defect.  

Then of course there is the case of former Ireland international Clive Clarke. The two times capped star was playing for Leicester City when at half time during a match against Nottingham Forest he went into cardiac arrest. Thankfully he survived but his fledgling career was over at the age of 27.

Who can forget the faith suffered by Portsmouth star Kanu. In 1996 the then Inter Milan star was diagnosed with a serious heart defect following the Olympics. The Nigerian underwent surgery to replace an aortic valve. After successful surgery Kanu resumed his football career and 16 years later he is still playing.  

We live in an era where professionals of any sport are so fit they are almost like machines. But how fit is too fit? As of yet there is no firm reasoning as to why the players mentioned in this article suffered the faith that they did. FIFA and all other sporting bodies need to act and ensure players hearts are checked regularly.

The greatest battle in football lies not on the pitch but instead in the hands of the powerbrokers who must ensure all players are checked regularly so we don’t witness another tragedy that is essentially a life or death situation.

Reid Heads Blackpool Exodus

Exiled Ireland international Andy Reid is among 11 players released by Blackpool as they brace for their return to the second tier of English football.

 The former Sunderland and Spurs star who has not featured for Ireland since a bust up with manger Giovanni Trappattoni in 2007 made only five appearances as Ian Holloway`s men were relegated to the Championship. 

The 28 year old Dubliner had joined the Tangerines in January but found his chances at Bloomfield Road limited.

 Reports coming from the North West have indicated that Wigan Athletic, who narrowly avoided relegation on the final day of the season may be willing to take a punt on the Dubliner.

The Tangerines have also released Richard Kingson, Marlon Harewood, Jason Euell, David Carney, Paul Rachubka, Danny Coid, Malaury Martin, Rob Edwards, Salaheddine Sbai and Ishmel Demontagnac.

“Blackpool Football Club would like to thank all of those players departing for their efforts and wishes them all the very best for the future,” read the club’s website. 

Elsewhere, Bolton Wanderers have released former Irish international Joey O`Brien.

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