Editors Blogs

March Madness

March Madness

Harry became Sports Editor in September 2016.

What a month we just had, and no, I’m not on about the snow. I’m talking about all the exciting things that happened in British Sport, there was a record medal haul for Team GB at the Winter Olympics, England Cricket won their 6th consecutive ODI series in New Zealand and Ireland wrapped up the 6 Nations Rugby Championship with a week to go.

Fulham’s charge to the premier league continues but with only 8 games to go and a 7 point deficit from Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City is it too little too late from The Cottagers? They’ve only dropped 2 points in 5 games but the trouble is, that the Bluebirds haven’t dropped a single point in their last six, they do however have a ‘6 pointer’ against Wolves in April which could be pivotal in the race to the top flight. See Henners’s article below for more of an insight. Brentford were also making a late surge to the Play-Offs but after a couple of defeats recently, they are surely just too far off the pace to challenge for a lottery ticket to the big time.

Chelsea are now facing an upward struggle after their recent stutters and awful showing against City where we thought Conte might be relieved of his duties but he’s still clinging on in there, time will only tell if he’s here at the start of next season, I highly doubt it. They were very unfortunate to not progress against the Catalonians but such is a life when going to the Nou Camp, decisions go against you and the rarely does the ball go in off the woodwork, they fought valiantly but truth be told, Messi’s equaliser at the Bridge made it more or less game over in my eyes. Chelsea simply have to win the big game against Spurs on Easter Sunday if they are to have any chance of sneaking into the top 4 at 5pm on the 13th May; should they lose, I would put my girlfriend’s car on him being gone before the end of the Bank Holiday.

AFC Wimbledon’s huge win at home against Oxford United gave them a 3 point cushion above the bottom 3 but that is now down to two again and the Wombles still probably need 3 wins from their last 8 games if they are to survive the drop to league 2, what with the division being as tight as it is. Check Tom’s article for a more in depth look at thei

Sutton United’s quest for the Football League continues to look strong just 3 points behind top spot and automatic promotion but Macclesfield Town are in the driving seat and they must drop points in order for the Yellow’s to have a chance at moving up the league ladder.

Hampton and Richmond are in with a sniff of promotion from the National League South as they sit 2 points off the top going into the last 8 games, however, I do fear that they will yet again not quite be able to do enough and will end up in the play off’s where it’s anyone’s for a place in the National League. The 0-0 draw against Havant last weekend sealed the deal for me. Touch wood, that I’m wrong but I just can’t see it.

In the Isthmian League, Dulwich Hamlet played their first game at Imperial Fields last week after being locked out of their own home ground Champion Hill due to on going issues with their landlords, Meadow Residential. They are still in a great position with 9 games to go after beating league favourites Billericay Town last Tuesday, but it is still completely in the hands of the Essex side what with their 5 games in hand. Tooting and Mitcham are 6 points clear of bottom spot but will still want a couple of wins to ensure safety.

Onto Cricket, and England’s enormously successful ODI side continued their streak with a tight 3-2 series win over the Black Caps in New Zealand. Ben Stokes has pleaded not guilty to affray, make of that what you will. It will be very interesting to see how he responds upon his return to the test setup following his absence from the Ashes side. On the flip side, it will interesting to see how many players react after the disappointing tour of Australia, and the awful first innings total of 58 against New Zealand, England need to start showing some character, and fast, or heads will start to roll, that I am sure of. Their only hope is that this one is a washout and they fight for their test careers in the second test. The decision to drop Mark Wood and James Vince is a baffling one for me though. Who knows what they were thinking there because the showing after 2 days in Auckland certainly hasn’t backed their bold choices, although in Overton’s defence, his top score of 33 not out was not a bad showing at all and without it, England would have been all out for 20.

In Tennis, Andy Murray remains out injured and Kyle Edmund is the new British No.1 after his fantastic display at the Aussie Open. The World No. 26 will hopefully enjoy seeding at the Grand Slam’s for the foreseeable however he has struggled to recreate the same form since January after being knocked out in the first round of Indian Wells to World No 92, Dudi Sela, in straight sets. Edmund will be looking to find some form coming into the summer months as he sets his sights on the Top 10.

The Six Nations Championship is over and England were left found wanting, massively so. After winning the title 2 years in a row, the boys in White were brought down to earth with a shudder, finishing 5th in the final standings. England have lost there ‘mojo’. There’s no other way of putting it. The free flowing, aggressive, pacy, dominant, confident rugby which struck fear into every nation across the globe, is nowhere to be seen. Obviously injuries have taken their toll but that’s no excuse. England would have despatched of Scotland and France a year ago. I personally would like to see a few more curveballs in the selection. We’ve become predictable, slow and didn’t try enough in attack. I’d also like to see more Exeter, Wasps and Newcastle players in the squad, seeing as they make up 3 of the top 4 and had only a couple of representatives in the squad. Why Danny Cipriani, hasn’t ever been given a chance under Jones is a mystery to me. The lad can create moments of genius that no other Englishman can but I digress. England have a tour of SA to look forward to in the Summer and they’re very fortunate that they Springboks are lacking form and confidence to a similar degree as themselves; expect a gritty war of attrition.

Kell Brook came back to Boxing in devastating fashion, knocking out Siarhei Rabchanka in just two rounds as he moved up to Super Welterweight following two defeats on the bounce, losing his world title to Errol Spence Junior on the last outing. Local lad, Joe Joyce, knocked out the previously unstopped Donnie Palmer in just 35 seconds last weekend and his credentials look something similar to that of a certain Olympian who took to the professional ranks around 4 and a bit years ago. This weekend brings a 2018 return for Dillian Whyte as he continues his charge to a World Title Fight. Standing in his way is the unbeaten bruiser Lucas Browne. Browne is likely to be The Body Snatcher’s most formidable opponent since AJ and is not to be overlooked although I do think that the Brixton Man will win this one on points, it won’t be a convincing victory, but with tests like The Big Daddy, a win is a win and an important one at that.

The one we’re all really looking out for though is on the Easter Weekend, it’s the big one, Anthony Joshua vs Joseph Parker for the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship of the World. This is probably Joshua’s biggest all round test to date, what with the New Zealander being a somewhat unknown entity and tough as old boots, not to mention Deontay Wilder chucking his sixpence in every 5 minutes in order to build hype around his charge towards a unification bout, one that still doesn’t seem to convince me. I think this one might just go the distance but AJ will be pretty comfortable, the New Zealander is tough but doesn’t seem to work enough around the ring to cause Joshua as many problems as Klitschko or Whyte did previously.

Oh and F1 is back! Lewis is pole for the Aussie GP tomorrow, let’s see if he can start where he left off… and on that note, I bring you the good stuff from the rest of the chaps:

Henners became Deputy Editor in January.

Fulham and Ryan Sessegnon’s Spectacular 2018 so far…

by Henry Thomas-Aldridge aka Henners

This season has been a tale of two halves for Fulham. Sorry for using that common footballing cliché but in the words of the famous James May, ‘a cliché is a cliché because it’s good’. Fulham finished 2017 in 12th place in the Championship however since then, Slaviša Jokanović’s men have found a new lease of life. A 17 year-old by the name of Ryan Sessegnon has taken the league by storm since the turn of the new year scoring 9 in 2018. Compare that to the 5 he scored by the start of the year and it is evident that England U-19 international is a key component for Fulham’s promotion push.

The loan signing of Aleksandar Mitrovic from Newcastle has also been a bright spark for Jokanović since arriving at Craven cottage with 7 goals in 9 appearances. However, it has been Ryan Sessegnon that has been soaking up the praise from the pundits and is even being tipped for an England call up for the World Cup this Summer.

Whilst an international debut might be slightly premature he has scored more league goals than any other Englishman in 2018 and is certainly going to have a say in whether Fulham can achieve promotion. In his last 5 games, he has scored a goal against 3 teams inside the current top 5 and Fulham only have to play two clubs currently sitting inside the top 10 (Preston in 8th & Brentford in 10th, at the time of writing). Fulham are comfortably sitting in the play-offs and will be massively encouraged by their current form going into a relatively easy final 10 fixtures with there still a chance of automatic promotion.

As Fulham are a local club to Wandsworth Radio, it would be fantastic to see Fulham in the Premier League once again next season. One thing is for sure though, we will definitely see Ryan Sessegnon strutting his stuff in the Premier League in the near future. He’s a highly sought after kid!

Tom joined The Sports Team in Summer 2017.

Survival of the Fittest

By Tom Davies

With just nine games remaining in their League 1 season, AFC Wimbledon are still in the thick of a relegation battle. Do they have enough to get over the line and secure a third consecutive season in the third tier? Here, we’ll take a look at them, along with the other riders and runners in the relegation mix.

AFC Wimbledon have had a peculiar sort of season. With one of the smallest budgets in the league, the Dons were justifiably expected to struggle, and while they’ve scrabbled around the lower reaches of the table for much of the season, they’ve largely managed to keep their heads clear of the bottom four, picking up useful points whenever the gap to the drop seems to be narrowing. The Dons don’t score many, averaging precisely one goal a game –with only one player other than top scorer Lyle Taylor (with an admittedly impressive haul of fifteen) managing to get more than five goals. Crucially however, they keep a tight ship at the back, with only one team in the bottom ten having conceded fewer.

That defensive solidity could prove to be key in their remaining games. Saturday sees a trip to Shrewsbury, defying all pre-season predictions of a battle to survive with an impressive push for promotion. Their impressive form is being matched by promotion rivals Blackburn and Wigan, meaning there is likely to be little respite for Wimbledon. However, despite their lofty position, Shrewsbury don’t score floods of goals, and with key players missing there may be a chance for the Dons to secure a surprise point.

But while anything more than a defeat on Saturday will be an unexpected bonus, it’s the Good Friday visit of Fleetwood that is likely to be of far more concern to Wimbledon. An appalling run of form in 2018 saw the end of Cod Army manager Uwe Rosler, and they currently sit level on points with the Dons. A win for either team would take them within touching distance of the fifty points likely to be enough to secure survival, and leave the defeated looking nervously over their shoulder.

And what of the teams below them? The good news for the Dons is that one of the slots is surely already taken. Bury’s woeful season began with scattergun spending and an atrocious run of form, and while they’ve picked up in recent months, it won’t be enough. Rochdale look in similar levels of trouble, though do have two games in hand as a result of their FA Cup exploits and well-publicised difficulties with the Spotland pitch. With games coming thick and fast at this stage of the season it’s points on the board rather than games in hand teams are after though, and the Dons’ resilient 1-1 away draw there last week should be enough to keep them at arm’s length. Franchise FC looked doomed a couple of weeks ago, but two wins from their last two has put them back within reach of safety. A team that shouldn’t ever been down there, it’s to be hoped that their mini-resurgence remains that. Northampton Town started the season poorly, but after an initial upsurge under the stewardship of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, have regressed in recent weeks, with no win in five. With four of those five being draws, the key will be whether they can start converting them into wins. The suspension of maverick striker John-Joe O’Toole, who saw red after throwing a punch at Shrewsbury captain Abu Ogogo on Tuesday, will not help in that respect.

One thing’s for sure, it’s tight down there, and the Dons will need a few more points yet to see themselves through. Will they have enough in the tank? Stay tuned to the Wandsworth Radio sport show and the blog to find out!

Andy joined The Sports Team in September 2017.

With the best will in the world…

by Andrew Murray

I decided to become a more active non-league football watcher. I wanted to feel more a part of the local footballing community that we discuss on the air every Saturday, and feel a more informed and valid participant when we do. I used to go and watch Bury Town FC – my childhood local team – but eventually Sky Sports forcefully shoved the “Greatest League in the World” into my eyeballs wherever I looked.

And that’s kind of the problem. Premier League football is so easy to consume these days that of course you’re going to watch more of it. It’s not just because its better quality, it’s because it’s far easier to actually watch, so non-league attendances suffer.

So I made a plan, two months in advance. Me and 3 friends resolved to go and watch Tooting & Mitcham -vs- Wingate & Finchley at Imperial Fields in the Isthmian League Premier Division for an old-fashioned Saturday 3 o clock kick off. It was a proper plan to watch proper football. I did a Whatsapp group & everything.

But we had a Leeds fan with us, and they were on telly in the early game and he wanted to watch that first. No problem, except there was a Premier League game at the same time and only a handful of pubs were showing both. Another guy was a Man City fan, and they were playing at 5:30pm so we also needed to figure out how to get back in time afterwards for that one.

Imperial Fields is not an easy ground to get to, a real geographical oddity no matter how we tried to play it: seemingly 45 minutes from every pub and tube line in London. The guys I was with were losing interest. They’d never been as committed as me to the Grand Plan, with its tight timescales & detailed travel schedule required to see all three matches.

I was determined to rally the troops, but I was up against it. 10 minutes from full time in the Leeds game, Paul orders another pint and I’m angry. We’ll definitely not make kick off now. I insist that he downs his pint so we can leave. He says he’ll only down it if I pay his share of the taxi to Tooting.

Luke’s thinking about ordering some food. Colin might join him.

It was warm in our pub, and it was February outside.

Then it started to rain. I ordered another pint myself and sat back down.

Following non-league football is hard.

Lee joined The Sports Team in September 2017

The Combat Zone comes to Clapham

by Lee Allen

From Spice Girls brunch parties to bingo raves, The Grand on Clapham’s St John’s Hill sees its fair share of interesting evenings. But a professional wrestling show scheduled for mid-May might just be one of the building’s most intriguing events.

It won’t be John Cena and his WWE colleagues who will be walking through the curtain to do battle in front of an audience in Clapham on May 13, but competitors representing US hardcore wrestling promotion Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW).

Unlike the glitzy, glamorous, publicly-listed WWE organisation, CZW sums up its ethos to presenting a wrestling show in the word ‘ultraviolent’.

In short, CZW’s presentation resembles a violent, bloody circus show, taking place inside of some dingy warehouse or in a field in front of a hundred fans.

The group’s shows feature an eye-popping number of props – used as weapons – ranging from the wrestling standard plywood tables, metal ladders and steel chairs all the way to staplers, drawing pins and barbed wire.

How many of these items will be gracing the interior of the Clapham Grand remains to be seen, but CZW is sure to provide an alternative breed of wrestling to what London fans are accustomed to.

Two of the company’s most popular tag teams are two tattooed, bearded chaps named “Storm of Entrails”, while one of the company’s talents goes by the name of Drew Blood – geddit?

But despite its high-risk, sometimes questionable content, this year is CZW’s twentieth in business.

With its show in Clapham rated 14+ and not the higher risk 18+, it is likely that the content will not be gruesome as some of its shows in the United States.

That is probably smart given the British audience’s disdain for gratuitous gore.

If CZW can get the balance right between an edgy wrestling show and not too much violence as to alienate the British fan, this misfit company from Philadelphia might become a fixture of Clapham’s weird and wonderful nightlife.

March 24th, 2018

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