Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Nadal wins epic Wimbledon final

What a fantastic match the final of this year's Wimbledon produced. And who would have expected it to last as long as it did, going the full five sets?

The opening stages showed Rafael Nadal dominate Roger Federer and, like the recent Euro 2008, it seemed as though there would be a convincing Spanish victory as he took the first two sets 6-4, 6-4, but it wasn't as straight-forward as that.

After play resumed from a break that couldn't come soon enough for five-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, the crowd began to see exactly why Federer has been such a dominant champion in recent years, as he pegged back to level the sets winning 6-7 (3-7), and 6-7 (8-10).
The two tie break wins exemplify how closely matched the World number one and number two were.

And just when it seemed it couldn't get any closer, the final set took the match to a record length as both players seemed unbreakable in service. As the privileged Wimbledon crowd watched on, many would have had to change their day's plans to allow for the length of this truly epic duel, but few would have complained in this edge-of-the-seat match.

Something had to give. And finally, after four hours and 48 minutes of play, it did. Nadal took the final set 9-7, by surely the finest of margins that a tennis game can be won. Both Nadal and Federer showed real mettle in this 'tennisthon' of a match, but, after five years of Federer dominance, this was Nadal's day.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

My Euro predictions

Less than an hour until the big kick-off of this Summer's football feast, it is time for some last-minute predictions for Euro 2008.

Group A: Czech Republic, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey.

This is one of the more interesting groups. I fully expect Portugal to top this group. Usually, the natural second-placed side would be the Czechs, but the Swiss are the hosts and it's a while since a host nation failed to reach the later stages of this competition. Switzerland will certainly be putting up a fight and play Portugal in their last game, which could be a crucial factor if the Portuguese have already made it through by that point. With respect, this group will be too strong for the Turks.

Group B: Austria, Croatia, Germany, Poland.

Here's another group that has the 'host nation factor' in it. The Austrians will not be as strong as the Swiss, so this time I expect the strongest teams, Germany and Croatia to battle it out for top spot and for quarter-final qualification to be quite straight-forward. I cannot see Poland getting a win out of this group. My tip for the tournament, Germany, should win this group, though Slaven Billic's Croatia looked impressive against England during qualifying.

Group C: France, Italy, Netherlands, Romania.

What an intriguing group this is. Of all the groups, it is undoubtedly the 'group of death'. It won't be easy to play in and it's no easier to predict either. France and Italy will do battle again in the final round of group matches. It's n0t straightforward. Both nations have been prone to shocks in the past (Remember France v Senegal and Italy v South Korea) and if either has slipped up against a Romania side, who qualified impressively with a run of 10 successive wins, one of the sides could be put out in the final game if the Dutch or Romanians take their chance. And I am putting my neck on the line and predicting a shock! I think France or Italy will slip up and Romania, who took four points off of the Dutch in qualifying, will come roaring through. Marco Van Basten's Orange army to face disaster then in his first tournament as coach and Romania to join the Italians in the quarter-finals.

Group D: Greece, Russia, Spain, Sweden.

This could be a close group. The Russians were sturdy performers in qualifying, and, Spain aside, this is a group of gritty sides who grind out results. I'm not expecting too much excitement on the goals front. Spain should win this one, and should be joined by Russia. The holders, Greece, face a tough final game against Spain, and though they may already be through at that stage, I do not forecast the Greeks winning that game.


Portugal v Croatia
Germany v Czech Republic
Italy v Russia
Spain v Romania

I think all four group winners will progress to the semi-finals.


Portugal v Germany
Italy v Spain

The first game could ultimately decide which player will get the golden boot in this year's tournament, with Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal and Miroslav Klose of Germany both hot favourites to win it. Whichever one's nation progresses, they will get one more game to put goals in the net. Germany are usually pretty resilient and I put my money on them to make the final, to face Italy. There is too much hype about Spain and this is where I think Spain's and another golden boot favourite Fernando Torres's European journey will end.


Germany v Italy

If this is the final, it will be a tightly-contested affair, as with most top level football finals recently. I fancy the Germans to win it, but not by much.

There are my predictions. Now all that's left is to see how the tournament unfolds. The first game is in 10 minutes, as Switzerland face the Czech Republic at 5pm.

For more exciting predictions, check out Starting Eleven's take on how proceedings will go.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Back to blog again

After a while of not posting to allow for the marking of this blog as part of my Digital Newsroom module on my journalism course at UCLan, I have decided to continue to use this blog to blog about sports news and issues.

It will no longer have the odds and ends on it that were related to general Preston news as that is no longer a requirement. Instead, I will soon be setting up another blog that will cover entertainment as well, and may even expand further to set up blogs on health and politics, categories that were covered by my blogging colleagues during the course of my digital modules.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

58 Lancashire post offices set to close

A TOTAL of 58 post offices are set to close throughout Lancashire, the Royal Mail has announced.

The cuts involve 11 in the Preston area, including those in Acregate Lane, Longridge Road, Manchester Road, Pope Lane and Deepdale Road.

Closures have been decided by the government because the post offices are losing £4million a week.

The Government defended the decision, assessing the postal service as unsustainable in its current form, while post chiefs have said that 99.6% of people will either see no change to their existing branch or will remain within one mile by road of an alternative branch.

Head of communications at Preston City Council Stephen Parkinson admitted that 11 is "too many".

He said: "First we are very realistic and accept post offices could be rationalised or merged.
11 is too many. They provide a community service for elderly and vulnerable people who use them on a regular basis."

Mr Parkinson also pointed out that access to post offices would be difficult for people living in rural areas.

"We recognise the post offices need saving and that people do things differently now online. There is a change in how people shop and post offices have to move with the changes, but they are an important part of the community.

"If there are innovative changes then that’s what we’re looking for. Other closures happened four years ago so this is not new."

He confirmed that some of post offices’ duties will be passed into the hands of either village halls or churches, a measure that will happen in Preston’s Chipping and Calder Vale. He also suggested that pubs may have a part to play in postal duties.

Deputy leader of the Lancashire County Council Doreen Pollitt also expressed her opposition to the closures that have caused concern for Preston residents.

She said on the council website: "Post offices are an important part of our local communities and we are therefore very disappointed that the decision has been taken to go ahead with these closures."

Cllr Pollitt suggested that the fight to save Preston post offices will not be over in the near future.

"We will now look at services provided by these post offices to consider possible alternatives. This is too important an issue to rush."

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Ribbleton residents hit out at closures

AS POST OFFICES continue to close in Preston, how are the residents who depend on them reacting? JONATHAN SAUNDERS went to Ribbleton to get the local reaction to the closing of Acregate Lane Post Office.

ACREGATE Lane Post Office should not be shut, according to Ribbleton’s residents.

The post office, which is where Acregate Lane meets Ribbleton Avenue, is one of 11 to close in total in the Preston area as 58 are closing across Lancashire.

Residents have spoken out against the decision that would see Acregate Post Office close on April 30.

Mr Goodwin of Braefield Crescent, Ribbleton, who uses a mobility scooter, said: "I think it’s scandalous. The nearest one to us now is Newell Lane. There are still two there. If I didn’t have my chair, I’d have to get someone to help me."

Mrs Fox, of Tennyson Road, added: "It’s not safe going elsewhere. Everybody knows what you’re queuing for. The one we have is ideal. It’s stupid having none near Acregate Lane.

"It’s going to take me three-quarters of an hour to go there now, instead of my usual 10 minutes."

Adrian Southworth, 74, of Longworth Street, Ribbleton said: "I’ve lived here for 74 years and I can never remember it without a post office. It’s part of the social life and society."

Ibrahim Choham, 68, a Ribbleton resident for 40 years said: "It’s very bad. We use it every week. It’s been here a long time so we are very sad."

Martin Elson, 28, a civil servant from Thornton Cleveleys, condemned the regional closures: "I don’t think any should be shut. It’s a local service. The government provides services and that’s why we pay taxes. Labour have squandered our money."

The government has kept some postal duties in Lancashire by handing them to village halls and churches in Chipping and the Calder Vale near Preston, Glasson Dock near Lancaster and Quernmore in Lancaster.

The closures are set to finish on May 12 with the closure of Bolton Road Post Office, Chorley and Churchtown Post Office, The Green, Churchtown.

The decision to close adjust the post office system has come after government figures show the service to be losing £4million a week.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Digital newsroom presentation

This blog is for the assessed presentation that all of this blogging has been leading up to and answers the question of how the digital newsroom is reported, and defined.

Despite so much comment, it could also be argued that the digital news room is more objective than the traditional mediums. In traditional news mediums, to achieve complete objectivity, it is almost impossible because it would require more than just one reporter’s version of a story, as Lee Sigelman says in News: A Reader (1999:86).

The digital newsroom, however, allows for this to happen and blogging acts as a platform for every side of a story to be projected equally, especially with almost unlimited space and the opportunity to link to other people’s blogs

In my blog titled ‘Is the era of the seven-goal thriller over?’ , I linked to a blog by Starting Eleven, a blogger and ex-sports writer in America, to give his point of view and use it to support a couple of my own points. Likewise, he has linked back to my blog on his own blog.

This makes the digital newsroom a democratic tool, in which everyone is free to give their own view on a subject, and again this promotes the "everyone’s a journalist" culture.

The way that data can be gathered by the use of polls in the most random fashion and displayed so much more quickly than on other mediums is another way that the digital newsroom is more democratic than other mediums and pushes the information out more quickly.

My blog demonstrates how the virtuous circle works with one person sending out information, which is then used by another, who then uses the information again at a more developed stage.

This is further exemplified, and it is shown that the digital newsroom is unique, in that a blogger can let others gather their information for them, instead of going out onto the street and doing it manually. For example, in a blog about Dwain Chambers, I was able to link to a piece of multimedia that LBC radio's James O'Brien had done without having to take time to create that multimedia myself. Information comes to the blogger in polls as well, as used a couple of times on my blog.

One very regular blogger is The Guardian's Barney Ronay, whose football blog receives lots of comment and sparks debate. His blog also receives praise and criticism, sometimes people questioning his facts or view of the game. In this way, the readership contributes to the editing process so that Barney knows what positive aspects of his blog to maintain and what to change or improve upon.

As a result of instantaneous comment and almost infinite space and the opportunity for everyone to contribute, the digital newsroom is the fastest, most objective and most democratic of the news mediums, allowing for healthier debate of interests and issues.

Football or rugby?

James O'Brien has brought up an interesting debate on his TV debate channel. What is more entertaining: Football or Rugby? He found it a tough decision, and I'm not surprised. He is a life-long Nottingham Forest and Kidderminster Harriers fan and as an avid Wycombe Wanderers fan, I would find it extremely tough to say that rugby is more entertaining than football.

He suggests that football could be losing the war of entertainment value to rugby because there are more entertaining features of rugby than just scoring points and it is more of a spectacle, with the excitement of whether Johnny Wilkinson will get a chance to drop-goal and to see the backs make runs all the way up the field. He also questions whether rugby is more entertaining for the neutral referring to that many games in international football competitions are often mundane instead of a great spectacle.

But I have to disagree with him. I must admit that I do not watch a lot of rugby, but is there really more of a guarantee that there is going to be more of a spectacle in rugby than in football, or any other sport? Perhaps it is that England are better at rugby than football at the moment. Watching England at football has been quite painful recently, so it would be a surprise to me if England playing rugby wasn't more entertaining at the moment. But rugby more entertaining as an international sport? No.

Not every game may have been guaranteed entertainment during the last World Cup, but matches still remain entertaining in my memory like the opening game of Germany beating Costa Rica 4-2; Argentina's 6-0 drubbing of Serbia and Montenegro, before their exit to Germany; Japan taking a shock lead against Brazil before losing 4-1; and the final match of the tournament, contested between France and Italy, an intense affair which said a surprisingly abrupt end to Zinedine Zidane's career after his sending off, and the hard-fought penalty shootout at the end for the most prestigious prize in international football.

Obviously there are plenty of arguments for and against either sport's entertainment value and which is more so, though the most important factor that I think impacts the entertainment value is the scoring systems. When I do have a moment watching rugby, I find it less entertaining because the players score so frequently and the points are valued higher than in football. Strange, isn't it? But I find that because goals in football are rarer, and I argue that it is more difficult to score a goal in football, it is more special and more of an achievement when it happens. That's why football edges it for me.