Monday, February 2, 2009

BBC - 606 - - A46842348 - Six Nations, one passion

BBC - 606 - - A46842348 - Six Nations, one passion

Barry John up for Auction!

Barry John puts rugby memorabilia up for sale

Feb 2 2009 By Darren Devine and Steffan Rhys

WELSH rugby legend Barry John last night explained his decision to sell off the most prized items of memorabilia from his glittering career by revealing: “Nostalgia means nothing to me.”
The fly-half, considered one of the greatest players of all time, said that while he regarded being picked for Wales as the most treasured honour in his career, the collection of mementoes amassed during his playing days held no great importance to him.
Just days before the start of this year’s Six Nations, John, known simply as “The King” to generations of Welsh rugby fans, is preparing to auction off items including his first Welsh cap, the jersey worn in his final appearance for his country, and a Lions shirt worn in the team’s only series win in New Zealand.
The items will be auctioned in Bonham’s, Chester, on February 25, and are expected to spark a bidding war among rugby fanatics that could send the total price spiralling towards £50,000.
Speaking to the Western Mail, John who was born in Cefneithin, Carmarthenshire said he had consulted his family over the decision, and explained that he hoped the mementoes would be acquired by someone who would truly value them.

He said: “I saw that former footballers including Geoff Hurst had put their memorabilia up for auction and I saw one or two rugby players doing it,” said John, 64, who lives in Cardiff Bay.

“I spoke to Jan [his former wife] and my four children about it. I asked Jan if she knew where my Welsh cap was and she said: ‘It’s in a drawer upstairs – somewhere’.
“I talked to two great friends of mine – I won’t say who but one is a former Lion – and asked what they would think if I did it. I thought there might be something wrong with doing it.
“But they said, ‘Do it’.

“I spoke to my children and thought about what I could leave to them. I’ve got four children and nine grandchildren but I only played 25 times for Wales so I haven’t got enough to go round.
“In an ideal world I would like to see all of them go to a museum. It’s far better than being in a ‘drawer upstairs’.

“I hope they go to a good place.”

He added: “Friends have asked about nostalgia and, amazingly, there isn’t any.
“Playing for Wales is the greatest thing to happen to any sportsman but I don’t feel that much nostalgia.
“When I handed them over, I just didn’t get that gut feeling. I felt it was the right thing. Why take them to your grave?
“But perhaps my mother, if she was alive, would have said no.
“Maybe 30 years ago I would have but the game has changed so much. Since 1996, when rugby turned professional, all of us look at the world in a more professional manner. The amateur ethos has gone.”
John said he did not know how much the items would fetch, but said financial necessity was not behind the move, adding that he was not selling his “This Is Your Life” book because of its importance to the family.
“Not at all,” he said. “Why have something languishing at the bottom of a drawer if it can be shared with other people?”
The items being sold, which are all expected to attract prices of between £5,000 and £10,000, include:
- The shirt worn by John in his final match for Wales against France in 1972, after which he retired, citing the pressures of fame;
- The Welsh cap awarded to John after making his debut against Australia in December 1966;
- The Lions shirt worn in the fourth and final test in the historic series against New Zealand in 1971;
- A portrait photograph of John, originally taken in black and white and tinted into colour;
- A blue Cardiff Rugby cap awarded for making more than 20 appearances in the 1967-68 season;
- John’s official blazer from the 1971 Lions tour.
Rugby historian Howard Evans, author of A History of Welsh International Rugby: 1881-2000, said John came from a fine tradition of supremely talented Welsh fly-halves.
He said: “Barry looked as if he was slow. He scored one of the great tries in ’67 at Cardiff against England where he beat about four or five Englishmen.
“He could change pace and he made it look as if he was hardly moving. He had an art of making it look like other people were running slowly – he glided.”
Jeffery Muse, regional director of Bonhams, said: “These sort of things are always very appealing to collectors. It’s difficult to know where to place [in terms of price] unique items in the market. There is reason to believe that they will raise several thousand pounds when you think of someone of Barry John’s stature.
“I would expect there would be some wealthy people from Wales and particularly Cardiff that would have a desire to own much of this material.
“Barry John is a larger than life character known to many people and his fame extends way beyond the borders of Wales.”
The sale will also feature a pair of golden football boots cast from Welsh legend John Charles’ originals which are expected to fetch between £3,500 and £5,000.
When I handed them over, I didn’t get that gut feeling. I felt it was the right thing. Why take them to your grave?

Wales’ Number 10 debate strikes up - WalesOnline

Wales’ Number 10 debate strikes up - WalesOnline

Shane vows mind games won’t hurt Wales title bid - WalesOnline

Shane vows mind games won’t hurt Wales title bid - WalesOnline

King Nadal in Melbourne......

On Tennis: Nadal's finale in Melbourne brings Federer to tears

Three years ago Roger Federer wept in the arms of Rod Laver as he accepted the winner's trophy at the Australian Open. There were more tears this week Down Under, with the Swiss not too happy this time.

How could he be, after dropping yet another five-set thriller to nemesis Rafael Nadal? Federer must have thought he had Nadal right where he wanted him, given the bullish Spaniard spent more than five hours on court in his captivating semifinal against another Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, two days earlier.
Nadal's 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 win in 4 1/2 hours denied Federer the historic 14th Grand Slam and has to be an even bigger blow to the world No. 2 than last July's Wimbledon defeat that ended 9-7 in the fifth. Federer sobbed during the trophy presentation, Laver nearby, receiving consolation from none other than Nadal, who acted like a big brother.
"In the first moment you're disappointed, you're shocked, you're sad, then all of a sudden it overwhelms you," Federer said. "The problem is, you can't go in the locker room and take it easy and take a cold shower. You can't. It's the worst feeling."
The stars seemed aligned for Federer. He landed on the gentler side of the draw, avoided defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semifinals and had an extra day of rest between the semi and final.
But Nadal, not picked by many to win the title because of ongoing knee problems and Andy Murray's emergence, is a different specimen. He rallied from 4-2 down in the first set and thwarted all six break points in the third. Indeed, winning the third was the turning point. (Curiously, Federer actually won more points altogether, 174-173.)
Federer's serve always seems to malfunction against the scurrying Mallorcan, and it happened again: The first serve percentage stood at 51.
Federer felt he played a "terrible" fifth set -- Nadal didn't. Like at Wimbledon, Nadal protected his serve gamely in the decider, conceding a miserly three points.
It's now six Grand Slams for Nadal at the tender age of 22. He's a U.S. Open away from completing his Grand Slam collection.
He's the undisputed No. 1 and will be for a while.
SIZZLING SERENA: How dominant was Serena Williams in the women's final? Here are some stats that prove the point: Her unfortunate victim, the affable Dinara Safina, won only eight points the first set, and in the entire match, Safina triumphed on six points behind her own second serve.
The 6-0, 6-3 rout was so inevitable that journalists began wondering what the shortest finals in Grand Slam history were. Safina lasted 59 minutes, by the way, not close to any records.
The tennis gods were on Williams' side throughout the fortnight, too. Trailing rising star Victoria Azarenka by a set in the fourth round, the Belorussian quit in the middle of the second, succumbing to a virus. In the quarterfinals, the always-jittery Svetlana Kuznetsova couldn't finish Williams off, failing to serve out the encounter in the second set.
As usual, Williams picked up her game when it really mattered, steamrolling Elena Dementieva, the hottest player on the tour, in the semis before dispatching Safina.
After claiming the U.S. Open, a second Serena Slam is very much a possibility. Williams collected major No. 10, three more than older sister Venus.
"Well, I wanted to get to 10," Williams said.
Less important to Williams, she regained the No. 1 ranking from the disappointing Jelena Jankovic.
NOT AGAIN: Australian Open organizers had a tough fortnight. A riot broke out between rival fans, a streaker invaded a doubles match involving the Williams sisters, the extreme heat policy was called into question, and scheduling turned out be a major gripe, especially for Djokovic.
Officials blundered by making Djokovic's quarterfinal tilt with Andy Roddick an afternoon affair a round after the Serb finished extremely late. To boot, the pick of the day's matches usually features in the evening, and it didn't take a genius to figure out Federer's encounter against Argentinean Juan Martin Del Potro, which ended up being played at night, would be a dud. Djokovic and Roddick, meanwhile, had ample history following their ill-tempered meeting at the U.S. Open.
While he got shafted by the schedule, there's no excuse for Djokovic retiring -- again -- in a big match. He quit in the fourth set against Roddick, undone by the oppressive heat. Roddick didn't appear bothered by the 105-degree temperatures one bit.
A-ROD'S OZ: Roddick can't be disappointed with his exertions Down Under. He put away foes he should have -- and then got Federer. Federer reads Roddick's bullet serve well, and it's no contest when the two engage in baseline rallies.
Roddick trails Federer 16-2 in their head-to-heads, and to get a third victory he needs the latter to have one big off-day, as was the case in Miami last year.
Perhaps they'll meet in the first round of the Davis Cup world group in March, when the U.S. hosts Switzerland in Birmingham, Ala..
"Overall I think it was a good event," Roddick said. "There's a whole laundry list of positives."
SECOND SERVES: Out injured, Maria Sharapova dropped out of the top 10 for the first time since 2004. ... Federer advanced to his 18th Grand Slam final, one shy of Ivan Lendl's men's record.

Serena ~ An All-time GREAT ???

Serena set to join the elite idols of tennis

SERENA Williams said it was “uber-cool” to join her idols in the elite group of women with 10 or more Grand Slams on Saturday after reaching double figures with her fourth win at the Australian Open.

Williams, who is also the reigning US Open champion, said she would now aim to repeat the “Serena Slam” of 2002-03, when she held all four majors at the same time.

The American became only the seventh woman to reach a perfect 10 at the Grand Slams with a crushing 6-0, 6-3 win over Russia’s Dinara Safina at Melbourne Park.
Williams, who also reclaimed the world number one ranking, said she was thrilled to join the likes of Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova but did not yet feel comfortable being compared to such legends.
“I idolised Steffi Graf,” she said.
“When I played her I was like ‘Oh My God, it’s Steffi Graf’ and Martina Navratilova was someone who was my role model, so when I think of these greats I don’t really think of my name, I think of them.
“I think people are starting to think of me in those terms, which is uber-cool, I can’t even get my mind around that.”

Graf won 22 Grand Slam singles in her career and Navratilova claimed 18, with Margaret Court the all-time leader on 24.

Williams’ Australian win brings her within striking distance of Billie Jean King, who collected 12 singles Slams in a career spanning 20 years.

The 27-year-old said she did not know how many Slams she could win.
“I never think about it,” she said.
“I just feel I never want to stop playing. I’m playing and enjoying myself and if I win Grand Slams that’s great.”

Asked if she could repeat the Serena Slam, she relied: “The Serena Slam would be awesome to do again. With the likes of Dinara playing and all the other girls, it’s going to be tough but I’m in for the challenge.” — Sapa-AFP