Schalke, Ballymurphy, and the rest of the week’s best sportswriting

Banners in Schalke’s Veltins Arena.

Source: DPA/PA Images

1. Ahead of their match against Bayer Leverkusen, the stadium was dark and the spotlight was on the miners down on the pitch. The last two coal mines in Germany had closed at Bottrop and Ibbenburen, bringing an end to the German industry, and in the centre circle they stood with Tonnies and other Schalke figures, who would also soon leave. They sang an old mining song: “Gluck Auf, Gluck Auf. Der Steiger kommt. Und er hat sein stilles Licht bei der Nacht schon angezund’t” (“Good luck, Good luck, the pit foreman comes and he has his bright light in the night, already lighted”). Minutes later, the players ran out on the pitch through the tunnel, which in 2014 had been transformed into a mine shaft. But the mining was no more, and soon the old Schalke disappeared too.

ESPN’s Tom Hamilton charts the decline of Schalke 04, once a giant of German football, following their relegation from the Bundesliga.

2. Black jockeys were aboard 13 of the 15 horses that competed in the first ever Derby in 1875. Go back further, and at its nascence, the entire industry was predicated on the labor of enslaved Black people. Many were purchased from West Africa specifically for their equestrian skills to be its riders, trainers and grooms.

In American racing’s earliest days, owners ran the horses they owned with the humans they owned atop them.

In The New York Times, Sarah Maslin Nir tells the story of Cheryl White, America’s first licensed Black female jockey.

3. No such relief is allowed for competitive sportspeople, however. Anti-doping regulation prohibits the presence of these medicines when Aoife takes to the lanes.

“I’d be coming off and have to lie down,” she notes of the toll competing with insufficient painkillers has taken on her. “I’ve won the nationals and passed out in the back seat of my car with the pain.

“Bowling the Triple Crown with Ireland up in Belfast, a five-day event, I had to go out onto the ice-rink afterward and lie down on my stomach to reduce the pain.”

International Irish bowler Aoife Hall tells Off The Ball’s Arthur James O’Dea about her battle with endometriosis.

Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel during their time in the Bundesliga.

Source: Imago/PA Images

4. Reschke had experienced a similar moment with Guardiola a few months earlier when the two of them had travelled to Italy to see Roma play ahead of a Champions League group game against Bayern. “It was crazy. Pep spoke of each team’s strengths and weaknesses before kick-off and the match went exactly the way he had predicted. Later that week, he allowed me to sit in on the team meeting. Many of the moves and situations he had anticipated played out (when Bayern eventually played Roma), as if he had scripted it. It was incredible.” Bayern annihilated Roma 7-1 in the Stadio Olimpico that night, in one of the most accomplished performances of Guardiola’s three-year reign.

Raphael Honigstein gets the details on a famous encounter between Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel in a Munich bar, for The Athletic. (€)

5. “Where I grew up in Clonard there was nothing: no amenities. No parks or playgrounds. And there was one public phone box. So what we’d do is free-phone the police so you could throw stones when they’d come. But that wasn’t done out of hatred. It was for a bit of crack: for a chase.”

To keep them off the streets, Ó Muirigh and his friends were sent to play Gaelic games. His mother’s uncle, Jim Phelan, had hurled for Antrim. His grandfather was pure St Gall’s. He found himself on a mini-bus headed for football training. And through it all, something his grandmother had said lodged in his mind.

Molly Murray had a thing about the law and lawyers. All of those days visiting her son and attending court, of travelling to Long Kesh had made her realise something. These dull court rooms and legal offices was where progress and consequence happened. 

Keith Duggan looks at the story of Ballymurphy and the important role sport can play in Northern Ireland, for The Irish Times. 

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