Do you want to know the sweetest sight in sports journalism? No, it’s not your name in print, or the Wimbledon press buffet, or Mikel Arteta’s ludicrously perfect lego hair up close, although those are all good answers. It is the sight of Danny Rose, formerly of Tottenham and now of Newcastle, making his way through the mixed zone, which is the small strip of neutral territory in a stadium where hacks are actually allowed to ask footballers questions.
Why? Because Rose is one of the most honest, open and plain-speaking guys in the business. If you ask him a question, he will answer it. Once, at the Emirates Stadium, I watched a colleague quite literally rub his hands together in glee when Rose emerged after a Tottenham victory over Arsenal in the Carabao Cup. Most footballers will stand there and give you an answer. Some don’t even bother to do that. But Rose actually talks.
So it came as no real surprise to learn that Rose, who last week spoke eloquently on radio about how most Premier League footballers had no issue with taking a pay cut but resented being lectured to by people outside of the game, has paid for hundreds of Dominos pizzas to be delivered to NHS staff at North Middlesex University Hospital. This comes after he was revealed to be the person who made an anonymous £19k donation to the same hospital.
Rose didn’t seek publicity for either act of generosity. He didn’t release a saccharine press statement or seek out the media. He simply did it to help. He remains one of the most interesting and inspiring figures in the sport.
Jos Buttler auctions World Cup final shirt
Jos Buttler doesn’t really go in for memorabilia. He is not one to keep his shirts, or his bats, and he is certainly not one of those players pinching stumps at the end of every series. He only made an exception for his first match against AB de Villiers, one of his heroes, making sure to get a bat and a shirt signed by his childhood hero. The shirt ended up at the back of his wardrobe. The bat was left at his parents’ house.
But one item he did keep hold of was his World Cup final shirt. So his family were surprised when he told them to whack it on eBay, with the proceeds to benefit the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity. His sister did as he asked – but made sure she listed it with a 24-hour delay, just in case he changed his mind.
He didn’t. And, at the time of writing, the highest bid is a staggering £65,800. “It just felt like a good thing to do and a great way to help,” he told our very own Vithushan Ehantharajah. “Obviously, the fashion in which the World Cup was won everyone was very aware of that day, and the drama that unfolded, so it carries a story with it as well, which I think has made it have the impact it has.”
Tyson Fury is still being Tyson Fury
If you are over the age of 15 you may have missed that there was a big wrestling event over the weekend, WrestleMania 36. And there was excitement online as Drew McIntyre called out Tyson Fury after beating Brock Lesnar to become the first ever British WWE champion.
Fury’s response? “I beat one giant wrestler who’s bigger than Drew, Braun Strowman, knocked him clean out, I’m sure I’d do the same to our old Drew.”
I don’t know about you, but I find it strangely reassuring that, even in the midst of a global pandemic and nationwide lockdown, Tyson Fury is still promising to lay people out cold.
A word on Liverpool
No, Liverpool do not deserve praise for effectively being shamed into a u-turn. But they do not deserve admonishment, either. The club made a terrible decision to furlough their non-playing staff. They listened. They changed their minds. It is a positive outcome and certain other clubs should now sit up and take notice.
Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy, the ball is now in your billionaire court.
Good egg of the day
Rose isn’t the only one helping to feed NHS workers. Former McLaren boss Ron Dennis has created a scheme to supply a million free meals to NHS workers during the pandemic.
Dennis says yesterday his charitable foundation has put in place a £1.5m budget and joined forces with a number of other companies to provide up to 1,000 meals a day.
Look at this nice thing
Everybody who is anybody knows that football kits are, like, so last century. These days it’s all about either the training kit or pre-match jersey, and Nike have supplied Barcelona with an absolute beauty if these pictures are to be believed.
— サッカーショップKAMO (@soccershop_kamo)April 6, 2020
Oof. Get your gums around that. An idiot would say it’s a migraine-inducing mess of red and blue, the club’s traditional colours seen through a ketamine-laced kaleidoscope. But we intellectuals know that it’s an abstract, three-dimensional take on Barcelona’s history and heritage, almost certainly inspired by Catalan Modernism and the iconic mosaic designs of famous Barcelona artist Antoni Gaudí.
Either way: it’s a winner. One day, when all of this is over, football will have returned and Barcelona’s players will be kitted out in this in the final few moments ahead of a mammoth Champions League clash against, say, Juventus. Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo, one last time. It’s destined to happen. Don’t lose hope.
Watch this fun thing
Just Warren Gatland busting out some moves that look like a cross between a man off his nut at Pacha Ibiza and a particularly vigorous aircraft marshall.
We’re not sure if the internet is ready for this video, but here it is anyway.
📺 Tune into @skysportnz‘s Isolation Nation on Wednesday night at 7:30pm for more videos like this. pic.twitter.com/A4ZzGTnQhB— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ)April 6, 2020
Things to do
Read this: Vithushan’s interview with Buttler
And this: Tony Evans lambasting Liverpool
And this: Dvora Meyers on Simeone Biles
Days to go until Euro 2020...
Reasons for sports fans to stay positive
These are extraordinarily difficult times and, as a sports fan, it can be particularly tough to see any light at the end of the tunnel.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the postponement or cancellation of almost every major sporting event, from the Premier League to the Gallagher Premiership, from The Masters at Augusta to the Wimbledon Championships.
But that doesn’t mean the sporting world has completely ground to a halt. And that doesn’t mean that there are no uplifting sports stories to raise everybody’s spirits.
So, here is a dedicated space for the day’s positive sports stories, whether big or small. If you find yourself in need of some positivity to reaffirm your faith in humanity and increase your anticipation for the return of professional sport, read on.