America, Countries, Sport, UK

Women football ban

In a previous life I scribbled about saaacer but the women football ban never came up then.

Nor years earlier when I dated Bostonian Carol at university in Aberdeen who left the foot in with all the men she tackled.

On the football pitch you mucky devils!

While any adolescent Scot from the early 80s will identify with the rite of passage film Gregory’s Girl.

Although we in our all-boys school could only have dreamt of a keeper like Dorothy.

If we’d been allowed to play football competitively rather than on the playground. 

Michelle and Matthews magic

Prize girl: Michelle Akers

I confess too that I wasn’t as star-struck as I should have been when I met American soccer legend Michelle Akers, also in the Granite City.

Because England great Sir Stanley Matthews was there with her.

All of which reminiscences have been sparked by today’s woman’s FA Cup final.

When they will reflect on the first showpiece, between Southampton and Scots Stewarton Thistle, (more a back pitch) 50 years ago.

Male chauvinists

Team of all talents: The Dick, Kerr Ladies

Still it must have felt like Wembley where Arsenal and Chelsea will compete today for the players in 1971.

The women’s game in the UK quite amazingly and disgracefully had been in abeyance for the previous 50 years.

And not because it wasn’t popular, though that shouldn’t matter either.

Tens of thousands turning out to see the lassies play.

No, because the chauvinistic chiefs of the FA banned women’s football in 1921 stating that it was ‘quite unsuitable for females’.

Despite the legendary Dick, Kerr Ladies and St Helens Ladies playing before 52,000 the previous Boxing Day.

Female pioneers

Equal pay: How the times have changed

The FA were perhaps worried that their women would swap their pinnies for boots.

But the Dick, Kerr Ladies were not to be put off.

And they took on a US tour and played men’s teams over there.

Whether that inspired the grandmothers of Carol Terry or Michelle Akers.

They did start an American revolution in women’s saaacer.

And that has made them the force in the game though the English are now catching up.

Football family

Yanks very much: US superstar Megan Rapinoe

I’ll maybe give Carol some thought if I do return to Beantown next year after 34 years away.

When I hope to revisit Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, and the Celtics, their basketball team.

In the absence of a Boston team, I’ll adopt NWSL champions Washington Spirit from DC out of east coast solidarity.

Out of respect for Carol.

As no self-respecting Bostonian, or friend, would plump for a New York side (in this case Gotham).

So on My Sporting Weekend as I watch the Women’s FA Cup final I will reflect on the women football ban.

And did I say that I have the pinnie on today while The Worker, she’s out in the field?

 

 

Adventure, Countries, Europe, Sport

Tirol-blazing

Ja, it’s the Austrian region that lends itself to trend-setting, or Tirol-blazing if you please.

Little did I know when I waved Auf Wiederseshen to Tirol a couple of years ago that they (and the rest of the world) would be thrown off course.

And that a full, proper ski season would have to wait until 2021. But there it is.

Now we all know that the Austrians love a rule or two and so without further ado over to them to set out the regulations.

Der rules

Like an Alpine skier: In the Austrian Tyrol

*No general restrictions on opening times for bars and restaurants, no general restrictions on ski lift capacity, no general social distancing.

*Ski resorts must apply the 3G Rule (ie all visitors must prove they have been tested, vaccinated or have had and are recovered from Coronavirus.

•Apres-ski locations will be subject to the same rules as nightclubs. From Level 2 these venues will impose the 2G Rule (access only for people who are vaccinated or have had and are recovered from Coronavirus).

*Christmas markets where food and drink are served will be subject to the 3G Rule (does not apply to Christmas markets without food and drink).

*Further measures above and beyond Level 3 will be targeted mainly at unvaccinated people.

*Everyone who gets vaccinated now can be sure of having access to all areas this winter (ski lifts, restaurants, concerts, cinemas, etc).

Now without any more shilly-shallying, some hotels and chalets.

Alpine hand

Exclusive Chalets at St. Anton am Arlberg. © Arlberg Photography, Privat Chalet St. Anton

Golden Marmot and Silver Fox: Exclusive chalets at St. Anton am Arlberg
Two new, exclusive luxury chalets are opening in St. Anton am Arlberg.

The Chalet Golden Marmot – with three apartments for eight to ten guests each and a small spa area – is located just a few metres from the bottom station of the Nasserein cable car and the entrance to the Arlberg ski area.

The sister chalet, Silver Fox, will also open its doors in December:

The three apartments – each with a spacious living and dining area – are perfect for a cosy get-together around the fireplace with your family or group of friends.

You can also relax in the sauna of the in-house spa area.
www.chalet-stanton.com

Solden this too

The Skybar THE VUE in the new Hotel “The Secret Sölden”. © Zuchna Visualisierung

It’s time to reveal some secrets: The Secret Sölden
An opulent golden entrance, copper-coloured metal panels: “The Secret Sölden” attracts all eyes even from the outside.

From December 2021, the exclusive apartment resort with 44 residential units will reveal its secrets.

The Secret Sölden is not a classic hotel but instead it aims to impress with an innovative overall concept.

And an open-house approach. LA‘ LIV – the living room of the house – will be the heart and central meeting point.

Breakfast buffet in LA‘ LIV or undisturbed breakfast in your apartment? You choose!

Guests can also help themselves to a fine selection of snacks as well as drinks throughout the day.

In the evening, LA‘ LIV transforms into a chic restaurant.

But that’s not all.

The absolute highlight during your stay at The Secret Sölden will be the spectacular sky bar THE VUE with a glass ceiling.
www.the-secret-soelden.com

Zillertal have that

Hotel Berghof in Mayrhofen © Ing. Thomas Buchberger

Beautiful new spa area at Hotel Berghof in Mayrhofen
This season, winter sports enthusiasts can also look forward to two further, freshly renovated hotels in the Zillertal valley.

The first one is Hotel Berghof in Mayrhofen:

Since the summer, the new garden SPA has a rooftop sunbathing lawn (adults only and suck it up kids).

And a spacious wellness landscape with an indoor and outdoor pool, children’s pool and family saunas await guests. www.berghof.cc

Kristall clear

Hotel Kristall in Leutasch. © Barbist Architecture

The classic one with a new look: Hotel Kristall in Leutasch
Hotel Kristall is a traditional establishment which has been in this beautiful spot in Leutasch on the Seefeld Plateau since 1973.

And it has been run by the Pfeffel family since 2004.

In 2021, the hotel is being fully renovated with these new features.

The hotel lobby and bar are being redesigned and expanded, the restaurant will shine anew.

And an additional floor with rooms and suites is being created.

“But our highlight is the new Sky-SPA with a heated outdoor pool, panorama sauna, indoor and outdoor lounging areas and panoramic view of the Wetterstein mountains and Hohe Munde,” says hotelier Bernhard Pfeffel.
www.hotel-kristall.at

America, Countries, Sport

Walking in Vegas and Memphis

And WC Handy will still look down on him… Rainy Days and Songdays celebrates Tyson Fury as he goes Walking in Vegas and Memphis.

The Gypsy King has become as big a headliner in Vegas as Celine Dion, Elton John and The Osmonds (yes, really).

The World Heavyweight champion brought the house down when he adapted another American classic in the ring after defeating Deontay Wilder, who really ought to have had the home fans in the palm of his destructive hands.

Memphis history

That’s Handy: In Memphis

Now we’ll forgive Tyson for being disorientated.

And not quite knowing his surroundings after Wilder put him on the seat of his pants during the fight.

Because WC Handy was an Alabaman, who made his name in Memphis, Tennessee, as the Father of the Blues.

A couple of feet: Off of Beale

Tyson would be a thousand miles away though if he had touched down in the land of the Delta Blues.

The Delta being the juncture in the Mississippi.

Although we will give him his Beale (Avenue) in Las Vegas which we stumbled upon in Neon City.

Although the Beale which Marc Cohen was referring to was Beale Street in Memphis.

On the Strip

VIP: With the Rat Trap

Mind you Vegas can recreate anywhere in the world in their own image.

Head down the Strip and you will almost think you have been transported to Paris or ancient Egypt.

And an anecdote here to prove my point.

Jetlagged on my arrival in Vegas I laid down on my triple bed in The Palazzo in the afternoon.

And against my better judgment I fell asleep.

Only to be woken up by a call from our host Tryphavana to say the party was sitting down for dinner at the Venetian.

The Grand Canal

The one in.., Vegas

Wiping my eyes, still in sleepy mode, I passed by gondolas on the Grand Canal.

And walked through to the restaurant and an Italian feast.

Looking up I saw a fresco of the Creation of Adam.

Sure, Vegas can recreate the world in their own image.

So go ahead, me and Tyson Fury love Walking in Vegas and Memphis.

Countries, Deals, Europe, Sport

Portyogal

Lyra did things to me that should never be done to a man (and definitely not before dinner). Welcome to Portyogal.

And while the Algarve conjures up images of Sun, Sea and Sagres to most, Sport is the order of the day at The Campus in Quinta do Lago

Portugal’s popularity for golfers is well established but more and more of us have been discovering its other activities.

Among them tennis, with lessons from Judy Murray, and the Iberian favourite padel, a hybrid of tennis and squash.

Sun, steak and sardines

Hands up for yoga: in Quints

With all that sun, steak and sardines (and I can do sibilant alliteration all day) you’ll be wanting to swim it off.

Yes, and the ancient practices of yoga too. It’s not called Portyogal for nothing!

If you don’t know your Downward Dog from your Cobra, and if you do, then you’ll want to know you’re with experts

And our old friends at Travel Department know their Portugal and know their yoga.

My type of TD

Tranquility: Portugal

TD offers a guided trip where your vinyasa/hatha practice will be varied and themed each day.

Your MOONS yoga teacher will help you focus on slow, mindful movement with stronger holds.

And if you’re very good teacher will allow you out to take in Sagres.

The beer? Yes, but also the region.

With walks along the coast, the sun, surf and siestas.

The TD Algarve Yoga Holiday is from €639pp including three nights’ B&B with all yoga activities.

Depart May 5 and October 13.

Yoga moves

Toning up: In Tobago

And so since you’ve been practicing your yoga over lockdown you’ll be ready to go.

I know I am having limbered up under the tutelage of my old pal and Nidra practitioner SLM who I exercised with in Tobago.

That is when we weren’t clinking beers on the Nylon Pool sandbank in the middle of the Caribbean.

 

 

 

Countries, Europe, Ireland, Sport

Prost to Johnnie Fox and Tirol

It’s apt that the launch of Ireland’s Austrian ski return should be held in Ireland’s highest pub… Prost to Johnnie Fox and Tirol.

Johnnie Fox is one vulpine who only enhances the countryside of the Dublin Mountains.

To call it a pub is to underplay it.. it is a recreation of a bygone Ireland.

Irish family: With English and American

Of snugs as cottage front rooms with dressers, pans, open peat fires, and the ilk.

And enough Irish sayings, wit and wisdom and whimsey to impress your diaspora pals.

As well as Irish dancing, hooleys and the best fish and Guinness.

Old Ireland

See I said Old: With Old Irishwomen

It’s still my favourite Pint of Plain and Chowder anywhere on the island.

You’ll see then why Johnny Fox’s is a magnet to Hibernophiles and returnees.

And as such it was always a pit stop on a tour of Dublin and Wicklow when friends and family came a-passing.

With venues difficult to organise in these Covid days Johnnie Fox’s courtyard and surrounds are ideal.

And so the Great and Good of Irish Travel will assemble next Friday at the fully heated area of the Haggart Outdoor Area.

Slope off to Ski Club

High life: With the Scary One in Soll

There is another very good reason why Johnny Fox’s has been chosen.

The Ski Club of Ireland is housed nearby.

Skiing’s popularity among the Irish is often underestimated, particularly by those who can’t see beyond a hurling stick.

And still talk about Garrison Games.

But I would like to think I championed skiing in my time in Ireland.

And also realised that I was best leaving the writing in the hands of multi award-winning writers Catherine (Murphski) Murphy and Isabel Conway.

Memories of Soll

Have skis will travel: In Austria

I would, of course, go off-piste myself, or when I accidentally skied off course.

Like I did in Soll with the always supportive Topflight.

All the Austrian ski crew will be there…

The vintage VIPs

Tale of the slopes: And the Alps

We can look forward to hooking up with…

Yvonne Rosenstatter of Salzburgerland State Tourist Board, Elena Protopopow, of Tirol Tourist Board, Wilma Himmelfreundpointner, of St. Anton am Alberg Tourist Board)

Together with Ski Instructors from Flachau and Obertauern and the Ski Club of Ireland Team

And the most important person of all, Dagmar McGuinness, of Advantage Austria who are bringing in the Austrian wines.

The Ski Club of Ireland is pushing on to promote this winter for the big bounce back.

It is holding an Alpine Fest on Saturday, September 24 and Sunday, September 25.

I may have to save that pleasure.

Sites for sore eyes

And once you get the knack: Fun on the slopes

In the meantime here’s a brief introduction to my friends..

Salzburgerland – https://www.salzburgerland.com/en/, Obertauern – https://www.obertauern.com/en/, St. Anton – https://www.stantonamarlberg.com/en/

Flachau – https://www.flachau.com/, Tirol – https://www.tyrol.com/, Great Outdoors – https://greatoutdoors.ie/

Ski Club of Ireland – https://skiclub.ie, DLR Tourism – https://www.dlrtourism.ie/, MountainPeople.ie – https://www.mountainpeople.ie/

And Topflight.ie – https://www.topflight.ie/

And finally a big Prost to Johnnie Fox and Tirol.

 

Asia, Countries, Deals, Sport

Umpire seat in the Maldives

Back in the day hotels with tennis courts were exotic… now we expect them, and a tennis pro coach with you in the umpire seat in the Maldives.

Some Maldives islands are, in truth, little bigger than tennis courts.

Best thing in small packages

King of the court: Maldives

On Kandolhu there are 30 villas, four a la carte restaurants, a bar, beach dining experiences as well as in-villa options.

And an oceanbank of coral to gurgle in and gawp at the fishes and the turtles.

At 200m x 150m though understandably they couldn’t quite fit in a tennis court.

Courting popularity

Fun and games: Football and cricket

There are though on neighbouring big sister island Kuramathi, though it’ll be more leisurely club tennis than all-action Rafael Nadal rallies.

As I can vouch for, having raced after the younger, fitter Sri Lankan staff on my Atoll Tale adventure.

Life’s a pitch: And it’s hot, hot, hot

On their football pitches and cricket grounds.

While couples and leisure-seekers amble around Maldives islands in their flip-flops those of a sporty nature are indulged too.

And the good news for those who drown in shallow water is that tennis is an option.

With real-life tennis professionals.

Slamming professionals

Anyone for tennis: And much mote besides

Such as Davis Cup winner Viktor Troicki

Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences welcomes the Serbian champion who won the cup with somebody you might have heard of, Novak Djokovic.

For a two-week residence for mid-term, October 26-November 6.

Viktor follows in the tennis shoe steps of some big-hitters.

Pooling your talents

Newly crowned Olympic champion Alexander Zverev and bro Mischa.

Awesome Aussie Pat Rafter and most recently Russian pro.

And former world No.1 Angelique Kerber.

Judy’s protegé

Keeeeep dancin’: With Judy Murray in Portugal

Now don’t be mistaken into thinking you get things any easier with a female coach think again.

As I know only too well from my fumblings under the tutelage of Judy Murray in Quinta do Lago.

 

Abercrombie & Kent offers seven nights from £4336pps.

Price includes B&B, flights and transfers. Based on travel between October 26-November 6.

And you in the umpire seat in the Maldives.

 

Countries, Europe, Sport

The Marathon Men

We’d all like to turn the clock back and pushed on and become one of The Marathon Men.

But that’s enough about my love life.

The Marathon is the closest Olympic discipline to my own athletic talents.

Having pounded the streets of the UK as a promising road runner in my youth.

Running through my head

Homer run

I could more than relate to how the commentators were calling the race.

And perhaps weigh in with my own contributions based on having covered the original Marathon course in Greece.

And my Olympic efforts.

I’ll keep how much of it to myself.

It is still though to see the signposts for Marathon in Athens.

Or a bunny run

And the stadium for the first Modern Olympics bang centre in the downtown capital.

Which brings me to a gripe about the Games becoming overmodernised.

With the imperious Eliud Kipchoge taking the finishing line on a non-descript street in Tokyo.

Instead of the traditional finish inside the stadium.

Tracking Marathon’s history

And I’m ready to make my move

 

And we can blame the English for that having ditched the 385 yards around the running track in 2012.

For London’s Pall Mall which was followed by the Sambodromo in Rio, the parade area that serves as a spectator mall for Carnival.

True, it means that the public, rather than corporate get to see the runners break the tape.

Greek god: At the Acropolis

 

Although I suspect that the bigwigs have probably nabbed that vantage point too.

But while World Marathon holder Paula Radcliffe regaled us with the importance of history to the Marathon…

Stadium is perfect stage

And where the race should finish

The entry to the stadium is one now denied us.

And today’s runners won’t get to sample the outpouring of emotion, congratulations and scattering of laurels at your feet.

Which the third leg in the winning Scottish Schools Road Relay champions of 1982 in Grangemouth Sports Stadium got to enjoy.

The Marathon Men are coming.

 

Africa, Countries, Ireland, Sport, UK

Lions in Siya Africa

Now I know a thing or two about  Lions in Siya Africa.

The Lions are on the Mount Camdeboo Game Reserve in the Great Karoo in the Eastern Cape.

Which is just around the corner from where the British and Irish Lions are playing their Test series with the South African Springboks.

Well, a rather big corner, the Cape of Good Hope.

Heroes in Capes

OK, it’s a cheetah but the Lions were hiding

Cape Town‘s beauty and its Table Mountain are legendary.

Less well known, at least outside of South Africa, are the charms of the Eastern Cape. 

From where Springboks captain Siya Kolisi, Pride of Port Elizabeth, hails.

You’ll see his influence in the oldest township in South Africa from where he set out on his heroic journey to become Springboks skipper.

South Africa needs leadership

The pack: With SpringJock Iain and pals

And to place that in sense of importance within the Rainbow Nation…

Didn’t the Eastern Cape’s own, Nelson Mandela don a Springboks jersey to greet Francois Pienaar at the 1995 World Cup final against New Zealand?

South Africa could do with Madiba now as it wrestles with social unrest in the wake of Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment, and its Covid crisis.

But in Kolisi it has a champion.

A different Test

Panorama: With South Africanophile Rachel

It is of course a matter of regret that the Lions aren’t touring South Africa.

And an even greater one that Port Elizabeth, where the Lions have a decent record, hasn’t hosted a Test match against the Lions since 1980.

The Eastern Cape is solid rugby territory and a visit to the township reveals that the Boks are now embraced by all its peoples.

A Scot in exile

Rugby fans: Siseko, Nelson Mandela and your Bandanaman

Now mine host Iain is a proud Springboks fan and thinks nothing of taking his Jeep out to travel across country to watch his rugby.

But as his name reveals despite living in solid eastern Southern Africa his roots lie up here in Scottishland.

However the series evolves he will take take great joy from a healthier than usual representation from North Britain.

And we are not immune either from adopting Afrikaners either with Dusan Van der Merwe.

We call them SpringJocks.

It should be a great old journey with the Lions in Siya Africa.

 

 

 

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Sport

The Olympics Pokémon Hunting

The Olympics start today in Tokyo but what event do you wish was included… how about The Olympics Pokémon Hunting?

The playful Pocket Monsters have been with us for 26 years.

Caught in the act

Pokemon races though have not been endorsed by the International Olympic Committee… YET!

It’s a pity really

You see, the perfect venue has just opened, Pokémon Wonder in a 4,500sqm forest within Yomiuriland, a theme park outside Tokyo.

C’mon Pokémon

I reckon too that I would be a natural.

Catch me if you can

As a former Scottish national cross-country champion I have run through more than my share of forests.

And it’s got me thinking that it would have been more fun if the routes were littered with Pokémons along the way.

  • In there somewher

There are 50 species of Pokémon species including favourites such as Oddish, Diglett, and even (and I don’t know either) Rowlett.

And contestants will be given the rundown before the hunt from the research team of Professor Kureso and Pikachu.

Stop the pigeon

You looking at me?

And for those who poo-poo Pokémon as a sport I give you…

How about Horse Long Jump at the 1900 Paris Games or Town Planning at the four Games between 1928 and 1948.

Although as I sit here drowsy after another broken sleep one sport lost to the Games looks very appealing for a comeback.

Pigeon racing which flew during the 1900 Games with more than 300 birds taken out.

You not want to participate… well fly somewhere else, preferably out of my earshot.

Peekaboo Pokemon

In contrast our Pocket Minsters are actually podgy, playful little fellows who are very welcome in our world.

And they will be up until next April 3.

Now as for the row circling around Tokyo over whether it should be held at all with Covid gripping Japan.

Well, I’d always ask that everything possible be done to allow Travel and Sport, my two great loves, to continue.

Let the Games begin

Yes, we love a video game

And I believe precedent is a great example and cite the last time the world was gripped by a pandemic, the Spanish Flu in 1920.

And the Games went ahead in Antwerp, Belgium.

Never mind all those original Olympics held against the backdrop of Greek wars and interfering and vengeful Gods and Godesses.

Now maybe there are more events from the ancients which we should bring back.

I ca see you

But one step at a time… for starters let’s trial The Olympics Pokémon Hunting.

 

 

America, Countries, Europe, Sport

Open again for golf

A lot has happened in the last two years since I sat drenched on the banks of the Royal Portrush greens but now we’re Open again for golf,

It is doubtful whether the demure folk of Royal St George’s in Sandwuch, Kent on the English south coast will holler their man home.

The way the Northern Irish did County Offaly’s Shane Lowry on that deluge of a day in County Antrim.

Champion Golfer

Open for glory in Belfast

Shane has been a unique Champion Golfer of the Year in that his reign has spanned two years.

After last year’s tournament was cancelled because of Covid.

A bit like your Travel Editor of the Year who was honoured by Irish Travel as their Travel Editor of the Year in 2019 before the world shut down.

And is yet to truly open again.

Ben Sayers outside my house in North Berwick

Golfers have, of course, been waiting excitedly to get their clubs packed again for foreign trips.

Shane knows he has little to worry from this direction as I usually stick to the driving range.

But here’s a mixed bag of my golfing misadventures abroad. Fore!

Quatre en France

Captain’s choice?

The Old Course, Cannes, France: And continental Europe’s oldest course is where to play with Cannes’ Fast Set.

You’ll even have la joie of traversing a small stream between holes on a boat.

But be sure to remember the international language of golf when slicing your shot.

As I was reminded by the match behind to shout Fore. Needless to say it wasn’t Bryson DeChambeau!

My Ryder

Are you watching Pádraig Harrington?

Quinta do Lago, Portugal: Word had obviously reached Paul McGinley and his Golf Academy in the Algarve.

That I was open for golf again.

My driving was better than my riding with me going off road on our cycle and almost ending up with the spoonbill birds.

Another round in Vegas

Hotshot: In Vegas

Topgolf, Las Vegas: And in Vegas the pitchers are the jugs of booze.

They come to your golf range table with chicken wings and dips. And it helps with your golf driving.

As I also found on a Liverpool course as a guest of Irish Ferries and Jameson Whiskey where a drinks trolley would come round every few holes.

What a Player

My pal Gary Player

Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, Wirral: The north-west of England rivals Scotland as Golfland and where I wrote a golf column.

And where I got the tip that a Japanese TV station were filming a round with Gary Player and would I like to join them.

While I channeled my inner Gary at the Press round before an Open and putted back off the clubhouse wall as Gary did in ‘74.

Turk that

Swing time in the TA lounge

Turkish Airlines Lounge, Istanbul Airport: And the dream of golf nuts who will find every opportunity to play…

An airport lounge driving range on the way back from Istanbul.

Just go easy on the cornucopia of food and drink at the TA lounge or you’ll follow through.

And fill up with Turkish treats

So we’re Open for golf again and there’s an Open invitation to you all to come and see us in North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland.

Although my cousin Greg is still avoiding me after he stood too close to me on the tee box at North Berwick Golf Club

When we were kids and I clunked him on the head. Fore!