Gouging has no place in any kind of sport

A modest haul of medals had been achieved by Shetland’s competitors at the island games by the time went to press, with once again the archery team leading the way.

The gold won by Billy Finnie in the individual compound competition was a tremendous achievement, all the more so because his previous golds were all won in the recurve section.

After changing disciplines four years ago Finnie has now shown his versatility, and will be remembered as one of Shetland’s greatest island games competitors.

More success came in the same compound event for Sara Leith, who won the bronze, while her husband Ryan shot steadily enough to ensure that the team clinched another bronze.

Congratulations also to swimmer Andrea Strachan who, not quite able to match her golden exploits of two years ago in Rhodes, did marvellously well to take the bronze in the 50 metres breaststroke, only a few hundredths of a second denying her a higher place on the podium. It should also be remembered that many of the swimming team bettered their personal bests, which shows they were giving their all.

Shetland’s first bronze, on Monday, was won by Olympic skeet shooters John Magnus Laurenson and Bryan Sutherland, while by all accounts his team mates Jim Work, Peter Ratter and Christopher Williamson were only a whisker away from the medal positions in the sporting competition.

Sadly the performance of the football team was very disappointing, finishing last in their group and ending up playing off for 13th and 14th positions.

It had all begun so well with a fighting 2-2 draw against Menorca on Sunday, but a narrow 2-1 defeat to hosts Åland ended any hopes of a medal. The unexpected 3-1 loss to Greenland must have been hard to take but hopefully they will have finished on a better note after yesterday’s play-off with Saaramaa.

Manager John Jamieson was quite right to say that the failure to play in Rhodes two years ago may have had a bearing on matters. The decision not to defend the title the team won in 2005 was a mistake and one which should not be repeated.

Likewise the absence of the women’s team, who have improved out of all recognition since making their games debut in Shetland four years, appears to be inexplicable. Especially since they were able to take part in a knockabout tournament in Amsterdam only a fortnight or so ago.

Having already lost the series with South Africa the British Lions rugby team are playing for pride in the third test tomorrow.

Most of the publicity this week has centred on Springbok Schalk Burger being banned for nine weeks for allegedly “gouging” the eye of Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald, and his coach Peter de Villiers’ view of the incident.

According to press reports de Villiers claimed Burger didn’t even deserve the yellow card he was issued with, while most observers thought it should have been a straight red. It was “just sport”, de Villiers is quoted as saying, and all “part of the game”. If players didn’t like it they should head for a ballet shop and buy some tutus, he later elaborated.

Obviously this is not the first time a rugby player has been accused of tampering with the eyes of an opponent, but surely it is something which has no place on any kind of sports field. I’m amazed by de Villiers’ stupidity.

As to the overall Lions picture, hopefully lessons will have been learned. The most important one, I feel, is that certain players were omitted because they were not playing particularly well on the tour, or even in the preceding Six Nations championship.

Form is temporary, but class is permanent, someone once said. And that certainly rings true here. A classic example was the absence of prop Euan Murray, who had already shown he could more than hold his own with the feared South African front row.

It was disappointing that coach Ian McGeechan failed to home in on issues such as these but perhaps his hands were tied somewhat. He did not appear to exert the same control as Jim Telfer did when the Lions won in South Africa 12 years ago.

The Andy Murray show rolls on. Or at least it was still rolling yesterday with Wimbledon’s current favourite son having reached today’s semi-final against Andy Roddick.

Sunday’s final may well will see Murray, providing he manages to dispose of Roddick of course, doing battle with five times champion Roger Federer. The Scot has a good recent record against the Swiss, albeit not on grass, and surely has a reasonable chance of glory.

Meanwhile in the women’s singles the Williams sisters have displayed their usual ferocity, bulldozing the succession of leggy Russian beauties who attempt to stand in their way. The only surprise is the fact that year upon year neither Venus nor Serena manages to secure the number one seeding, despite their monopoly of the competition. There may well be an explanation but it is one that is lost on me.

Local football coach and referee Derrick Bradley fell foul of a rather unusual incident while officiating at a works league match in Lerwick at the weekend.

During the game between Lerwick PL and Burra a Jack Russell terrier ran on to the field and Bradley was forced to stop play.

Displaying an amazing burst of speed he then managed to scoop up the wayward pooch and head to the touchline where he handed it back to its grateful owner. However, the dog had left its mark, all over one of the dapper new outfits, possibly the pink one, which Derrick has been sporting this season.

Bradley has no doubt been “p***** off” many times during his long and chequered football career, but could this be the first time he has been “p***** on”?

Jim Tait


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