Football in time of Horror-The football competition in Westerbork

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This must be one of the most amazing events I came across but amidst all the killing,torture,deportations and other horrors in Camp Westerbork, they actally found time to set up a football competition.

The competition was made up of several teams of Jewish inmates and started in spring 1943, it was a welcome distraction and gave some sense of hope of survival.

It must also have been a way of taking a bit of revenge on the members of the OD(Ordnungsdeinst) or Capos some of them also played in the tournament.

Some players did survive the Holocaust but the majority of them died in the extermination camps, along with Han Hollander who had been a famous Dutch sports commentator,with the broadcaster AVRO prior to  the war. He died on July 9,1943 in Sobibor.

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Juda de Vries, who had been a celebrated goal keeper of HFC Haarlem was send Westerbork in 1942. For a short time he entered the competition, he was transported to Sobibor in May 1943 where he was killed.

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Although the competition was short lived for most it had given them that feeling of ‘normal’ life again, however short lived it was it must have felt magical.

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The long walk of Liam McCarthy

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It was such a glorious day for us that 2nd September 1973 in Dublin, although it rained the sun shone in our hearts, because you were ours.

Your previous master ‘the Cats of Kilkenny’ looked not after you well, so we fought them and after beating them by 7 points we took you home to us. Your new home at the Shannon was going to be marvelous.

But it was only 12 Months minus 1 day the Cats ripped you out of our midst.

For decades you were lost and wandering throughout this mighty nation of ours, but no one look after you as good as we did.

But in 1980 we nearly had you in our grasps again if it hadn’t been for the tribes men of Gaillimh. It would have been so good for you to return to the treaty city, but alas.

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Then September 4th 1994, we could see you, feel you, my God we could even taste you. But no, you decided ON Ofally. Ofally of all places for crying out loud!

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Our heart was in pain and it was burdened. Would you ever come home again to us?

You teased us again 2 years later, but this time you sold your soul to Wexford for a mere 2 points. Things were getting so bleak. True the Celtic tiger was roaring, but Liam all we wanted was you, why did you not understand that?

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The years came and went, even a new millennium had started but you were never in sight. We saw you on telly alright ,having love affairs with Kilkenny, Galway,Clare and many other counties, but never us. We didn’t even get the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech.

But lo and behold come 2018, there you are smiling at us. Nearly we lost you again because some eejit of a referee decided ” 70 minutes isn’t long enough let’s make it as close to 80 as we can” As Bono once said” You were close and yet so far” however you decreed 45 years is a long enough walk, lets go home.

Liam

 

Nazi Sport propaganda in the Netherlands.

 

NSBSport was important in the Nazi ideology. Often athletes would be portrayed as warriors and many German athletes were drafted into the several branches of the Wehrmacht.

The Nazi also understood the power of sport as Propaganda and especially in a sports loving country like the Netherlands, the Nazis saw merit in promoting sports.

The poster below is advertising an evening of Sports on March 12 1941. The evening will include Cycling,Boxing,Singing and Music.Organized by the W.A. the military branch of the NSB(Dutch National Socialists)

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On January  10 1942, an international youth boxing tournament was organized between the Netherlands and Germany.

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Even in some of the concentration camps sports was encouraged. In camp Schoorl a hurdle match was held. Looking at the height of the hurdles it appears to me it was designed to cause harm.

Kamp Schoorl

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Between 19-21 September 1941 a light athletics tournament was hosted for the SS and Heer troops posted in the Netherlands.

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Football has always been the most favourite sports in the Netherlands, On December 12 and 13 1942, 2 matches between Germany’s top team München 1860 and the Wehrmacht were planned. I suspect this was also to show the Dutch how superior the Germans were.The 1st match was played in the Hague and the 2nd in Amsterdam

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These sporting events weren’t arranged for the good of the people or to entertain them but to distract from the horrors and the crimes committed by the Nazi occupiers.

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1942 Coupe de France Final

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It’s May 17 1942, you country is occupied by a hostile foreign nation. Fellow country man are dying on battlefields or being executed for being members of the resistance and other fellow country men are being deported to death camps. What do you do?

Well watch a football match of course.

Since the champions league finals are upon us in less then 2 weeks and also because the World cup is due to start next month, I was inspired to look into sporting events during WWII. I did not expect to find any but I was wrong, for on this day 76 years ago, the ‘Coupe de France Final’ was played in Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir, Colombes near Paris.The coupe de France is the competition for the premier league in France.

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The  match was played between,Red Star Olympique and FC Sète. Olympique beat FC Sète by 2-0 via goals scored by Henri Joncourt at 45 minutes, and Alfred Aston at 72 minutes. The attendance was 44,654 and the match referee was Georges Capdeville, the only referee to have ever been in charge in a World Cup final in his native country,in 1938.

On a side note but indirectly linked ,Alexandre Villaplane, who was a former player of FC Sète and had  captained  the French national team during the 1930 world cup, worked actively with the Gestapo and eventually became a SS lieutenant. Villaplane’s unit quickly became notorious for its cruelty. On 11 June 1944, for instance, they captured 11 resistance fighters in Mussidan, a small village in the Dordogne. Aged 17 to 26, the maquisards were marched to a ditch and shot. As well as giving the death order, Villaplane is said to have pulled one of the triggers.

villaAs so many other aspects of life, WWII also had a major impact on football in other European countries, France was an exception to the other occupied nations because of the Vichy regime which collaborated with the Nazis

In one way it was beneficial for the Nazis to allow the football competition continue in France. It was an efficient propaganda tool, because it diverted the attention away from their crimes and atrocities. It gave the population a sense of ‘normal’ life.

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NFL- Heidi

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You are all set , the game is on. Popcorn and Hot dogs on the table. Beer cooling in the fridge. The most comfortable chair in front of the TV, ready for THE match.

Wow a great match, only 3 points between the team, 65 seconds to go, it’s going to be a thriller… WTF???????

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The game between the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders on November 17, 1968 featured two of the American Football League’s marquee teams, and a combined 10 future Pro Football Hall of Famers.

On November 17, 1968, the Oakland Raiders score two touchdowns in nine seconds to beat the New York Jets–and no one sees it, because they’re watching the movie Heidi instead. With just 65 seconds left to play, NBC switched off the game in favor of its previously scheduled programming, a made-for-TV version of the children’s story about a young girl and her grandfather in the Alps. Viewers were outraged, and they complained so vociferously that network execs learned a lesson they’ll never forget: “Whatever you do,” one said, “you better not leave an NFL football game.”

The game between the Jets and the Raiders was already shaping up to be a classic: It featured two of the league’s best teams and 10 future Hall of Fame players. By the game’s last minute the two teams had traded the lead eight times. The game’s intensity translated into an unusual number of penalties and timeouts, which meant that it was running a bit long.

 

With a little more than a minute left to play, the Jets kicked a 26-yard field goal that gave them a 32-29 lead. After the New York kickoff, the Raiders returned the ball to their own 23-yard line. What happened after that will go down in football history: Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica threw a 20-yard pass to halfback Charlie Smith; a facemask penalty moved the ball to the Jets’ 43; and on the next play, Lamonica passed again to Smith, who ran it all the way for a touchdown. The Raiders took the lead, 32-36. Then the Jets fumbled the kickoff, and Oakland’s Preston Ridlehuber managed to grab the ball and run it two yards for another touchdown. Oakland had scored twice in nine seconds, and the game was over: They’d won 43-32.

But nobody outside the Oakland Coliseum actually saw any of this, because NBC went to commercial right after the Jets’ kickoff and never came back. Instead, they did what they’d been planning to do for weeks: At 7 PM, they began to broadcast a brand-new version of Heidi, a film they were sure would win them high ratings during November sweeps.

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Before the game began, network execs had talked about what they’d do if the game ran over its scheduled time, and they decided to go ahead with the movie no matter what. 6a00d8341c630a53ef010536014c8f970c-800wiSo, that’s what NBC programmer Dick Cline did. “I waited and waited,” he said later, “and I heard nothing. We came up to that magic hour and I thought, ‘Well, I haven’t been given any counter-order so I’ve got to do what we agreed to do.’”

NBC execs had actually changed their minds, and were trying to get in touch with Cline to tell him to leave the game on until it was over. But all the telephone lines were busy: Thousands of people were calling the network to urge programmers to air Heidi as scheduled, and thousands more were calling to demand that the football game stay on the air. Football fans grew even more livid when NBC printed the results of the game at the bottom of the screen 20 minutes after the game ended. So many irate fans called NBC that the network’s switchboard blew. Undeterred, people started calling the telephone company, the New York Times and the NYPD, whose emergency lines they clogged for hours.

Shortly after the Heidi debacle, the NFL inserted a clause into its TV contracts that guaranteed that all games would be broadcast completely in their home markets. For its part, NBC installed a new phone–the “Heidi Phone”–in the control room that had its own exchange and switchboard. Such a disaster, the network assured its viewers, would never be allowed to happen again.

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Wiping out a sporting legacy.

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Although I could not be considered to be an athlete,by any stretch of the imagination, I do enjoy walking and going for swims. Ever since I was a kid I was always very interested in the Olympic games. My home nation ,the Netherlands always tends to do well and it does give a sense of pride of this sporting legacy.

Although the Nazi regime actively encouraged sports, in fact Hitler saw all athletes as potential prime soldiers.

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Well only ‘arian’ athletes , any others like Jewish or Sinti athletes were not worthy to even eat the same food as his dog Blondi.

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Regardless how successful these athletes had been in the past there was no place for them in Germany history, their legacy had to be wiped out.

Gustav Felix Flatow & Alfred Flatow 

These 2 cousins both won gold medals in the 1896 Athens olympics.

Gymnast Gustav Flatow won two gold medals in 1896 at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens—in Team Horizontal Bar and Team Parallel Bars.

Gustav Flatow was 1 of 10 German athletes who competed in the Athens Olympics.

Gustav fled to Holland at the beginning of World War II but was caught and interned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. He died there just months before the end of World War II ,aged 70.

Alfred Flatow won three gold medals in Athens, Greece, at the first modern Olympiad in 1896. He also won a silver medal.In 1903, he assisted the founding of the Judische Turnerschaft, the historic and pioneering Jewish sports organization in Europe. He was prominently active in German gymnastics until expelled by the Nazis in 1936. Alfred Flatow died in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942, aged 73.

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In 1997 Berlin honoured Alfred and Gustav Flatow by renaming the Reichssportfeldstraße (a lane) near the Olympic Stadium to Flatowallee (Flatow-avenue). There is also the Flatow-Sporthalle (sports hall) at Berlin-Kreuzbergwith a commemorative plaque for both. The Deutsche Post issued a set of four stamps to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic games. One of this stamps shows the Flatows.

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Lilli Henoch

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Lilli Henoch (October 26, 1899 – September 1942) set World records in the Discus, Shot Put, and 4 X 100 Relay events.

She set her first World record in the Discus on October 1, 1922, in Berlin, with a toss of 24.90 meters. Less than a year later, on July 8, 1923, in Berlin, she bettered the mark with a distance of 26.62 meters.

On August 16, 1925, in Leipzig, Henoch set the World Shot Put Record with a toss of 11.57 meters.

One year later, she ran the first leg on the four-some (Henoch-Poting-Voss- Kohler) that set a new World 4 X 100- Meter Relay record—50.4 seconds—at the German tournaments in Köln (Cologne).

Between 1922 and 1926, Henoch won 10 German national championships in Shot Put, 1922 and 1925; Discus, 1923 and 1924; Long Jump, 1924; and 4 X 100-Meter Relay, 1924 to 1926.

The German government deported Henoch and her mother on September 5, 1942. They were shot and buried in a mass grave in the woods surrounding Riga, Latvia.

Werner Seelenbinder

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Seelenbinder was born in Stettin, Pomerania, and became a wrestler after training as a joiner. He had connections with the young people’s workers’ movement from an early age. Seelenbinder won the light heavyweight class of Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1925 Workers’ Olympiad in Frankfurt. In 1928 and 1929 he won the Spartakiad in Moscow; over 200 German sportsmen were banned from the contest, but Seelenbinder, with his interest in Marxism, took part.His first trip to Moscow had already persuaded him to become a member of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). In 1933 he refused to give the Nazi salute when receiving his medal at the German Wrestling Championship,and was punished with a sixteen-month ban on training and sports events.

German workers’ sports clubs were soon banned by the Nazi party; at this point the KPD approached Seelenbinder, asking him to join one of the legal sports clubs, to train to get as much sporting success as possible, so he would be able to carry messages across Germany and into other countries. As one of the country’s top sportsmen he had more freedom of movement and could travel abroad. As well as preparing for the Olympics, Seelenbinder joined the Uhrig Group, an underground resistance group named after Robert Uhrig, who organized it.

As a committed communist Seelenbinder was appalled by the 1936 Olympic Games that were to be held in Nazi Germany.

Berlin, Eröffnung der XI. Olympischen Spiele

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He had originally planned to boycott it, but friends persuaded him to compete anyway, win, and defy the Nazis by not giving the required Nazi salute, but to use a vulgar gesture instead. This plan was foiled when he lost the first match. He eventually came in fourth in the event.

The Nazis had only allowed Seelenbinder to take part in the Olympics because they thought he would secure them a medal: otherwise, they did not trust him in the slightest. Seelenbinder’s illegal activities as a courier and his participation in the Uhrig Group had caught their attention: he was arrested, along with 65 other members of the group, on 4 February 1942 and after being tortured for eight days, and enduring nine camps and prisons for two and half years, he was sentenced to death by the Volksgerichtshof, he was executed for treason on 24 October 1944 at Brandenburg-Görden Prison – he was beheaded with an axe. The imprisonment left him weighing a mere 60 kilograms (132 pounds), from his previous weight of 90 kilos (198 pounds).

In his farewell letter, he wrote to his father:

The time has now come for me to say goodbye. In the time of my imprisonment I must have gone through every type of torture a man can possibly endure. Ill health and physical and mental agony, I have been spared nothing. I would have liked to have experienced the delights and comforts of life, which I now appreciate twice as much, with you all, with my friends and fellow sportsmen, after the war. The times I had with you were great, and I lived on them during my incarceration, and wished back that wonderful time. Sadly fate has now decided differently, after a long time of suffering. But I know that I have found a place in all your hearts and in the hearts of many sports followers, a place where I will always hold my ground. This knowledge makes me proud and strong and will not let me be weak in my last moments.

 

Johann Wilhelm Trollmann

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Born 27 December  1907 near Hanover, Trollmann’s official German name was Johann but his family and friends knew him as Rukeli, derived from the word for tree in the Romany language. He started training at the tender age of eight and was soon competing with the Heros Hanover boxing club.

On 9 June 1933, Rukeli boxed against Adolf Witt for the German light-heavyweight title, which had been vacated by the Jewish holder Erich Seelig who had fled Germany in fear of his life. Rukeli was on course to win when the Nazi chairman of the boxing authority intervened, ordering the judges to call a ‘no decision’ and not award the title. This decision caused such an uproar among the audience that Rukeli had to be hastily crowned champion after all, but only a few days later he was stripped of the title again by the German boxing authorities because of ‘bad boxing’.

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A new fight was scheduled for 21 July, and Rukeli was ordered to fight in the ‘German style’ and ‘not to dance like a Gypsy’. He knew he was meant to lose this fight because he was a Sinto. Rukeli entered the ring with his face and body powdered white with flour and his hair dyed blonde: a caricature of an Aryan and a courageous act of protest against his discrimination. He just stood still and took the blows of his opponent Gustav Eder until he was knocked out in the fifth round.

This marked the end of his boxing career. He struggled to fend for himself, was sent to Hannover-Ahlen labour camp twice and went into hiding for a time to avoid further persecution. In 1938, in order to avoid deportation to a concentration camp, he agreed to be sterilised under the ‘diagnosis’ of ‘congenital feeble-mindedness’. He divorced his non-Sinti wife in order to protect her and his little daughter Rita. Following the outbreak of war in 1939, he was drafted into the German army.

In 1942, he was dishonourably discharged from the Wehrmacht for racial reasons, along with all Sinti and Roma, and soon after arrested by the Gestapo, severely tortured and transported to Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg. The camp commandant recognised him as the former boxing star and ordered him to train the camp’s SS men at night following his punishing 12-hour work shifts. Because of his deteriorating health, fellow prisoners managed to get him transferred to Wittenberge, one of Neuengamme’s satellite camps. But here, too, he was recognised as the former boxer, and was made to fight fellow prisoners for ‘entertainment’. One of his opponents was Emil Cornelius, a feared kapo. Trollmann won against him, but in a brutal act of revenge Cornelius beat him to death with a shovel in March 1944.

Otto Herschmann

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Dr. Herschmann is one of only three athletes to have won Olympic medals in different sports. He won a silver medal swimming the 100-Meter Freestyle in 1896 at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens and a bronze medal in Team Sabre (fencing) at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.

Coincidentally, Herschmann also served as president of the Austrian Olympic Committee during the 1912 Games, and as such was the only president of a National Olympic Committee to win an Olympic medal while in office.

Dr. Herschmann was arrested in Vienna by the Nazis and deported on January 14th, 1942 to the Sobibor concentration camp. He died there later that year.

 

The curse

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Don’t worry I have suddenly turned by page into some paranormal or horror blog site. But today was an important day in the Irish sporting agenda.It was the day of the All Ireland GAA senior Gaelic Football final between Mayo and Dublin(again).

Mayo did not win the final since 1951,and today was no exception, this is believed to be due to a curse.

The Curse of ’51 allegedly prevents Mayo from winning the Sam Maguire Cup(picture above} ever again, or at least until the death has occurred of every member of the last winning team from 1951.

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It remains unbroken—despite the team reaching the final on eight occasions since then, they have either completely collapsed on the day or been undone by a series of other unfortunate events.

The legend tells us that while the boisterous Mayo team were passing through Foxford on the victorious journey home, the team failed to wait quietly for a funeral cortège to pass by on its way to the graveyard. The presiding priest consequently put a curse on Mayo football to never win a subsequent All-Ireland Final until all members of the 1951 team are dead.

In 1989, Mayo reached their first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final since their last victory in 1951 only to lose to Cork. In 1996, a freak point by Meath at the end of the final forced a replay, which saw Mayo concede another late score that would deny them victory. Kerry bridged an 11-year title gap against them in 1997 with a three-point win, before torturing them by eight points in 2004 and thirteen points in 2006

Mayo returned to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final in 2012. Even with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Rome seeking divine intervention through Pope Benedict XVI the day before,

the “Kafkaesque black farce”continued from where it had left off—with Donegal allowed bridge a 20-year gap between titles, helped in no small part by a nightmare opening quarter for Mayo as Michael Murphy—whose father is from Mayo—launched a rocket of a shot into the goal after three minutes. Then, in the eleventh minute, Colm McFadden seized the ball from the grasp of Kevin Keane and slid it into the net for a second Donegal goal. Mayo only got on the score sheet after sixteen minutes and never led at any point during the match. They eventually lost with thirteen points to Donegal’s two goals and eleven.

They lost again in 2013, this time by a single point to Dublin.

They qualified for the 2016 Final on 18 September 2016 where they faced Dublin the curse seemingly struck again when they scored two own goals in the opening half before drawing with Dublin in the last few minutes of the game. They faced Dublin again in a rematch on the 1st October 2016 but lost by a point.

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Following the death of Fr Peter Quinn in January 2016, there now only remains 3 living members of the 1951 All Ireland winning team, Pádraig Carney, Paddy Prendergast and Dr Micky Loftus of Crossmolina.

Today they lost again to Dublin by 1 point. So the curse has not yet been lifted.

Mayo however is not the only team to be cursed, following are a few more examples.

The Boston Red Sox

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Some allege that there was a curse placed on the Boston Red Sox, who failed to win a World Series after 1918, apparently due to the selling of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.

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Before the sale, the Red Sox had won four titles in seven years (1912–1918). After the sale, the Yankees went on to win 27 World Series Championships. The “curse” was broken when, after 86 seasons, the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 0 in the 2004 World Series

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Hibernian F.C

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Scottish football side Hibernian endured a 114-year wait to win their third Scottish Cup, eventually doing so against Rangers in the 2016 final.

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Prior to this success, Hibs had lost an agonising ten straight Scottish Cup finals in a drought stretching back to 1902. Hibernian’s hoodoo was made all the more noteworthy by their relative success in other major Scottish footballing honours – the Leith side won four league titles and three league cups whilst remaining fruitless in their search for Scottish Cup glory. In spite of remaining a prominent force within Scottish football and building notoriously excellent sides such as the Famous Five and Turnbull’s Tornadoes, Hibs were for so long unable to lift the oldest trophy in world football.

Some Hibs fans attributed the absence of Scottish Cup success to a curse which a gypsy woman allegedly placed upon the club during the chairmanship of Harry Swan.Whilst renovation works were being carried out at Hibernian’s Easter Road stadium in the 1950s, a harp crest – which had been displayed on the South Stand symbolising Hibernian’s founding Irish roots – was removed and subsequently did not reappear when work had finished.During the 2015-16 season, Hibs’ modern day badge (which includes the harp) was placed upon the facade of the West Stand at Easter Road.Less than eight months after the harp had been reinstated onto the walls of Easter Road, Hibernian were once again Scottish Cup winners after more than a century in the making.

Birmingham City F.C

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English football side Birmingham City F.C. played 100 years under an alleged curse from 1906 to 2006.As the legend goes, the club moved from nearby Muntz Street into its current location at St Andrew’s, building the stadium on land that was being used by the Romani people.

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After they were forced to move, the angry Romani people put an 100-year hex on the stadium.

Throughout the years many Birmingham City managers would try to remove the curse but with little success. Former manager Ron Saunders tried to banish the curse in the 1980s by placing crucifixes on floodlights and painting the bottom of his players’ boots red. Another manager, Barry Fry, in charge from 1993 to 1996, urinated in all four corners of the pitch after a clairvoyant said it would break the spell. On Boxing Day 2006 the curse was finally lifted and on that day Birmingham City celebrated a 2–1 win over Queens Park Rangers F.C,and would eventually win a place in the Premiership. Just over four years after the alleged curse ended, Birmingham City finally won the first major final in their history – beating Arsenal 2–1 to win the League Cup at Wembley.

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The First race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Indianapolis businessman Carl G. Fisher first envisioned building the speedway in 1905 after assisting friends racing in France and seeing that Europe held the upper hand in automobile design and craftsmanship. Fisher began thinking of a better means of testing cars before delivering them to consumers. At the time, racing was just getting started on horse tracks and public roads. Fisher noticed how dangerous and ill-suited the makeshift courses were for racing and testing. He also argued that spectators did not get their money’s worth, as they were only able to get a brief glimpse of cars speeding down a linear road.

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On this day in 1909, the first race is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, now the home of the world’s most famous motor racing competition, the Indianapolis 500.

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Built on 328 acres of farmland five miles northwest of Indianapolis, Indiana, the speedway was started by local businessmen as a testing facility for Indiana’s growing automobile industry. The idea was that occasional races at the track would pit cars from different manufacturers against each other. After seeing what these cars could do, spectators would presumably head down to the showroom of their choice to get a closer look.

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The rectangular two-and-a-half-mile track linked four turns, each exactly 440 yards from start to finish, by two long and two short straight sections. In that first five-mile race on August 19, 1909, 12,000 spectators watched Austrian engineer Louis Schwitzer win with an average speed of 57.4 miles per hour. The track’s surface of crushed rock and tar proved a disaster, breaking up in a number of places and causing the deaths of two drivers, two mechanics and two spectators.

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The surface was soon replaced with 3.2 million paving bricks, laid in a bed of sand and fixed with mortar. Dubbed “The Brickyard,” the speedway reopened in December 1909. In 1911, low attendance led the track’s owners to make a crucial decision: Instead of shorter races, they resolved to focus on a single, longer event each year, for a much larger prize. That May 30 marked the debut of the Indy 500–a grueling 500-mile race that was an immediate hit with audiences and drew press attention from all over the country.

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Driver Ray Haroun won the purse of $14,250, with an average speed of 74.59 mph and a total time of 6 hours and 42 minutes.

Since 1911, the Indianapolis 500 has been held every year, with the exception of 1917-18 and 1942-45, when the United States was involved in the two world wars. With an average crowd of 400,000, the Indy 500 is the best-attended event in U.S. sports. In 1936, asphalt was used for the first time to cover the rougher parts of the track, and by 1941 most of the track was paved. The last of the speedway’s original bricks were covered in 1961, except for a three-foot line of bricks left exposed at the start-finish line as a nostalgic reminder of the track’s history.

This image first appeared in the Indianapolis Star on August 20, 1909 and depicts the winning car and driver of the first race ever held at the Indianapolis

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Battle of Santiago

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No this is not a piece on World War 2 or any other war for that matter,although it is often said that football is war.

The Battle of Santiago  is the name given to a particularly infamous football match during the 1962 FIFA World Cup. It was a game played between host Chile and Italy on 2 June 1962 in Santiago.The referee was Ken Aston, who later went on to invent yellow and red cards.

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By 1962 the World Cup had recovered from the 12-year hiatus imposed upon it by World War II and had become a fixture.

The 1954 and ’58 tournaments had both been held in Europe.  The nations of North and South America threatened to boycott the tournament—as they had done in 1938—if that trend continued.  Most assumed that Argentina would be the choice, but the Chilean federation mounted an underdog candidacy and ended up running away with the vote.

In this Group 2 clash, already heightened tensions between the two football teams were exacerbated by the description of Santiago in crude terms by two Italian journalists Antonio Ghirelli and Corrado Pizzinelli; they had written that Santiago was a backwater dump where “the phones don’t work, taxis are as rare as faithful husbands, a cable to Europe costs an arm and a leg and a letter takes five days to turn up”, and its population as prone to “malnutrition, illiteracy, alcoholism and poverty. Chile is a small, proud and poor country: it has agreed to organize this World Cup in the same way as Mussolini agreed to send our air force to bomb London (they didn’t arrive). The capital city has 700 hotel beds. Entire neighborhoods are given over to open prostitution. This country and its people are proudly miserable and backwards.”Chilean newspapers fired back, describing Italians in general as fascists, mafioso’s, oversexed, and, because some of Inter Milan’s players had recently been involved in a doping scandal, drug addicts.The journalists involved were forced to flee the country, while an Argentinian scribe mistaken for an Italian in a Santiago bar was beaten up and hospitalised.

Chile’s organization and preparation of the tournament had been severely disrupted by the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in human history.

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Articles in the Italian papers La Nazione and Corriere della Sera were saying that allowing Chile to host the World Cup was “pure madness”; this was used and magnified by local newspapers to inflame the Chilean population. The British newspaper the Daily Express wrote “The tournament shows every sign of developing into a violent bloodbath. Reports read like battlefront dispatches. Italy vs Germany was described as ‘wrestling and warfare'”

The first foul occurred within 12 seconds of the kick-off.[1] Italy’s Giorgio Ferrini was sent off in the twelfth minute after a foul on Honorino Landa, but refused to leave the pitch and had to be dragged off by policemen.

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Landa retaliated with a punch a few minutes later, but he was not sent off.

English referee Ken Aston overlooked a punch by Chilean Leonel Sánchez to Italian Mario David, which had come in retaliation for being fouled seconds earlier. When David kicked Sanchez in the head a few minutes later, he was sent off.

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In the violence that continued, Sanchez broke Humberto Maschio’s nose with a left hook, but Aston did not send him off. The two teams engaged in scuffles and spitting, and police had to intervene three more times. Chile won the match 2–0.

When highlights from the match were shown on British television a couple of days later (not the same night, because film of matches still had to be flown back), the match was famously introduced by BBC sports commentator David Coleman as: “the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.

Baseball and the WWII Battlefield

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In January 1942, Kenesaw Mountain Landis (1866-1944), the national commissioner of baseball, wrote a letter to President Roosevelt in which he asked if professional baseball should shut down for the duration of the war.

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In what came to be known as the “green light” letter, Roosevelt responded that professional baseball should continue operations, as it was good for the country’s collective morale and would serve as a needed diversion.

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During the war, 95 percent of all professional baseball players who donned major league uniforms during the 1941 season were directly involved in the conflict. Future Hall of Famers Bob Feller (1918-), Hank Greenberg (1911-86), Joe DiMaggio (1914-99)

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and Ted Williams (1918-2002) exchanged their baseball jerseys for military fatigues. Feller, in fact, enlisted in the U.S. Navy one day after Pearl Harbor. Because baseball was depleted of so many able bodies, athletes who otherwise likely never would have made the big leagues won spots on rosters. One of the more notable was Pete Gray (1915-2002), a one-armed outfielder who appeared in 77 games for the St. Louis Browns in 1945.

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By June 1942 more than 41,205 American military personnel were stationed in Northern Ireland, and with the Americans came American culture, from bubble gum and candy to big bands and, of course, baseball. The build-up was an impressive display of American efficiency, but one obstacle, unforeseen by military high command, was causing a dilemma.

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In a country where similarities with home seemed to end with the language, troops became desperately homesick. Daily training left them restless, agitated and suffering low morale. Something was needed to prevent the worsening of an already difficult situation.
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It was evident that a competitive sports program could help improve matters, and team games of basketball and soccer, combined with track and boxing, went a long way to make amends. But America ‘s national pastime – baseball – had by far the greatest impact on morale.

The first recorded baseball game took place near Belfast on Saturday, April 25, 1942. Despite overcast, blustery conditions, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division, attracted an inquisitive crowd of more than 1,000 locals who were treated to a play-by-play account over a public address system, a concert by the regiment band, and an impromptu jitterbug demonstration on the sidelines.

 
Major General Russell P Hartle, acting commander of the US Army Northern Ireland Force (USANIF), was invited to throw out the first pitch, and with all the fanfare of a major league opening day, baseball had arrived in Northern Ireland .

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Pitching for the winning 3rd Battalion in the 14-4 game was Corporal Robert Lange of Wilton Junction, Iowa.

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a 21-year-old right-hander who was a member of the Cleveland Indians’ farm system and had an 8-4 won-loss record with the Flint Arrows of the Michigan State League in 1940. In the sixth inning, Corporal Leo J Robinson, a 24-year-old outfielder from Harper’s Ferry, Iowa , hit a solo home run for the winning team. It was the first home run hit in Europe by an American serviceman in World War II. “[Robinson] was well known as a semi-professional player prior to World War II,” explains his son, Stephen L Robinson. “He was an outstanding hitter and pitcher in high school and was offered a professional contract from the Crookston, Minnesota , baseball team of the Northern League in 1936, but he turned it down because the family was suffering greatly as a result of the Depression and he could make more money working in the Civilian Conservation Corps.”

Neither team had uniforms, equipment was scarce, and a soccer field, without a backstop or pitcher’s mound, served as a diamond for the afternoon.

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But baseball had arrived, and the troops welcomed it with open arms. With the Army Air Force based at the Combat Crew Replacement Unit at Greencastle in County Down and the Langford Lodge Base Air Depot in Antrim, the Navy at the United States Naval Operations Base (USNOB) in Londonderry, and the Army scattered throughout the island, battalion-level baseball soon flourished on the Emerald Isle.

In July 1942, 34th Infantry and 1st Armored division all-stars teams were selected to participate in Northern Ireland ‘s first officially recognized baseball game of World War II. The last “official” game had taken place 25 years earlier, on October 31, 1917 , when Canadian and American troops put on an exhibition game for the local people. Staged at Windsor Park , a soccer stadium in Belfast , and a part of the Anglo-American Independence Day celebrations, the local government and American military pulled out all the stops to put on a July 4 spectacle.

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Representing the 34th Infantry Division were the Midwest Giants while the 1st Armored Division were represented by the Kentucky Wildcats. It would appear that the Kentucky Wildcats nickname was chosen because the original player line-up featured troops who were predominantly from that state. Indeed, a pre-game press cutting listed the southern-state players. However, for reasons unknown, but probably because the originally selected players were with a military unit that was otherwise indisposed, the Kentucky Wildcats were represented by players mainly from New York and the east coast.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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