All posts by Dwaine Quashie

Is it all over for Eric Reid?

Former San Francisco 49ers star Eric Reid claims his political stance cost him his place on the team after he joined Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality on minorities in America.

Both players have not had a club since the ‘take a knee’ protests. Many believe that the NFL has blacklisted them for their stance, while others claim it’s for footballing reasons.

At the age of 30, Kaepernick should really be in his prime as a quarterback, while strong safety Reid is younger at 26 and should not be short of lucrative offers.

Both have better stats than majority of the players getting signed by clubs in NFL in their positions.

So the logical assumption has to be that those clubs do not want the extra baggage that comes with two high-profile athlete activists.

Kaepernick has also not helped himself by filing a lawsuit against the NFL, claiming it is indeed blacklisting him. Whether you think this is brave or foolish, can you really seek to sue your employers but still expect to be employed by them?

So Kaepernick remains sidelined since the end of 2016, with the prospects of a return to the field receding.

Reid is similarly a free agent, and has indicated that he is reconciled with the possibility of replicating his former team-mate’s fate.

In December 2017, he said: “I would say I understand that’s a possibility, and I’m completely fine with it. The things that I’ve done, I stand by, and I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said, I’m fine with whatever outcome happens because of that.”

‘Owners are the problem’

Picked in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Reid had enjoyed a successful career up until now.

In his rookie season, he was selected for the Pro Bowl exhibition game, and went on to establish himself as an integral part of the 49ers defence.

At the end of last season, San Francisco head coach, Kyle Shanahan said Reid had been “playing his best football”, and yet today he remains unsigned.

Even if one take on Kaepernick’s situation is that he’s older and ready for retirement (although the best QBs often play on into their late thirties), why is Reid being tarred with the same brush uif it isn’t politically related?

Reid is under the impression that it’s not staff on the playing side of things that are the problem, but teams owners instead.

In a tweet on March 15th, he said: ” “The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systematic oppression, is ludicrous. If you think is, then your mind-set is part of the problem too.”,

He went on add that “[General managers] aren’t the hold-up… it’s ownership. People who know football know who can play. People who know me, know my character.”

Some in the sports world have come to accept that Kaepernick is still a free agent because he isn’t top quality anymore, not because of his political protests.

But no-one is buying that line with Reid – a player who has been described as a “free safety, box safety, matchup safety, slot corner and linebacker. He’s a hitter who can also cover, both man and zone. He’s shown instinctive playmaking prowess. In no sane world is Eric Reid a back-up.”

So is an NFL team going to find enough courage to sign him up for 2018-19? Or are they really going to let one of the most talented players remain on the back burner?

A memorable day of Welsh passion among the red dragons

Walking through Cardiff city centre on a Six Nations match day is like being part of a street carnival in which the main feature is a sea of red dragons.

Whether they are on shirts, hung up in shop windows or painted on faces, it’s clear to see how proud the Welsh people are to be supporting their national.

Wales were taking on France in the final game for the tournament. Neither team were going to be taking the top spot, but still, seeing Welsh and French supporters flocking through the streets, I knew it was going to be a good day out.

Before making my way to the Principality Stadium, I took to the streets to join in on the pre-match build up. Luckily, my friend is Welsh and knew the places to go to get the best atmosphere.

What I found most interesting was whether you were Welsh or French, everyone was there for the same reason, to watch their team try and win and there was no bad energy or negativity between the two sets of supporters.

Sea of red

There were loud choruses of “Bread of Heaven” being sung among the crowds with the occasional “Allez La France!” being heard, but it was very clear that we were in Welsh territory.

After experiencing the build-up and excitement, I was ready to make my way to the stadium, I had no chance of getting lost, as the massive sea of red and waving flags and shouts made it obvious which direction to take.

The Principality Stadium was something else. I have been to Twickenham a few times, but the atmosphere in the packed 74,500-capacity venue was incredibly different.

After an ongoing roar of Welsh chants it was very clear how patriotic and proud they were of their team and this was before the players even appeared on the pitch.

After an amazing rendition of the Welsh national anthem, something that was filled with a lot emotion, it was time to see what the match would bring.

Being an Englishman among a Welsh crowd and not knowing what they were singing, or being able to join in, was something I thought was going to be quite difficult, but I was wrong.

The match itself was anyone’s throughout. But towards the end it was clear that  France that should have won.

Luckily for the home fans, it was the opposite, with Liam Williams’ try securing a 14-13 victory for the home side as Trinh-Duc’s penalty miss let Wales off the hook.

The first half was a yo-yo of points between each side, with a couple of penalties and only one try, but this would prove to be the most eventful action, with not a single point being scored in last half hour.

This didn’t stop the home fans from cheering and chanting for their team from start to finish.

Friendly fans

What struck me as most surprising throughout the whole day was that even with their team putting on a poor show, the Welsh fans were consistently upbeat and happy.

Even when we got back outside the stadium after the match, a win was a win, no matter how small the margin of victory.

The end of the match didn’t signal the end of the celebrations. A lot of the fans were more excited about the fact England had finished fifth than their team managing to make second, or even winning the match for that matter.

Being a football fan, going to my first rugby match among Welsh fans in their home territory, I wasn’t sure if it was something that was going to be that enjoyable.

I have never experienced that kind of atmosphere, where everyone is there for one reason, to support their country and their team.

There was no animosity between each side and this was clear when I left the stadium and on the streets later, where Welshmen and Frenchmen were singing together walking down the road.

After a low-ranking result for England in this Six Nations, I’m glad I got to experience a win for Wales in their own stadium and was lucky enough to be a part of something so rare for me, but obviously very normal for Wales.

Daily Mirror front page

How should Carragher be punished after a very public spat?

After Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Liverpool at the weekend, a bitter taste was left in the mouth of Anfield legend Jamie Carragher after he was videoed spitting in the direction of a 14-year-old girl.

After being subjected to ‘banter’ from fellow motorists on his drive back to Merseyside, something snapped inside the Sky Sports pundit.

Footage uploaded to social media showed Carragher’s car pulling up alongside one being driven by the girl’s father and, after a brief verbal exchange, the former England defender is seen spitting at them before speeding away.

What he describes as a “moment of madness” and the “worst mistake” of his 25-year career, has not gone down well with public or his employers, who have suspended him from his punditry role.

A Sky spokesperson tweeted: “Jamie Carragher has been suspended from his duties… after he was filmed spitting at a family in their car following Liverpool’s defeat against Manchester United on Saturday.”

As vile as his act may have been, the debate to whether he should keep his job at Sky Sports rumbles on. TV sports presenters and pundits have been fired for a lot less.

Apologies

When footage of the sexist antics of Sky Sports duo Richard Keys and Andy Gray was leaked in 2011, both were fired. But while sexism is not accepted in this day and age, their behaviour didn’t break the law, unlike Carragher’s.

What has followed since the spitting episode is a lot of apologies and a few tears shed, but is this enough?

Should the Liverpudlian be fired for his behaviour because not only is he a sporting legend, but a role model for many young people, and this wouldn’t be tolerated if he wasn’t famous.

But should Carragher no longer be able to do what he loves for a living simply because he reacted badly after being provoked?

Gary Neville, Carragher’s punditry partner and once-bitter rival tweeted: “I have just watched @Carra32 say sorry. No excuses he’s made a big mistake.

“He’s massively passionate about football and he’s overstepped the mark and shouldn’t have reacted. I’ve been on TV for 3 years with him and imo this isolated incident shouldn’t stop us working together.”

Many believe Neville is trying to help his now good friend, rather than seeing the situation for what it really is.

Others argue that if that it was an ‘ordinary’ man involved, he would be charged with common assault, which could lead to a conviction and result in him losing his job.

So why isn’t Carragher losing his job and being treated like everyone else would be over something that is documented and undeniable?

Mistakes

Before this incident, Carragher had become extremely popular with the football public through his great punditry skills and his back-and-forth banter with Neville, so should we look at this one incident or his career as a whole?

Speaking to Sky, Carragher said: “Some people may like me, some people may not like me even before this incident, but hopefully going forward I can show them that I don’t feel this is the real representation of me.

“As I said, hopefully Sky or the general public will look at the 25 years – and I’ve made mistakes in those 25 years – but this, the mistake I’ve made is a huge one.”

Following intensive media attention, the father of the teenager – who was also breaking the law by filming on his phone while driving – went on to release his own statement, saying: “We don’t want him to lose his job. It’s not about that.

“We wanted an apology and explanation. He seems contrite. Everyone makes mistakes, we are all human. He did seem extremely sorry.”

So is this something that simply went too far and exposed both men’s law-breaking behaviour, or has it not gone far enough and do they need to be prosecuted for something that would not be tolerated in any other situation?

Welcome to the Jungle

At one of London’s largest crazy golf courses, I’m taking on the challenge of Jungle Golf in Edgware.

I’ve done crazy golf before, but not on anything like Lost Jungle London’s 36-hole adventure golf course. It offers a water-based Amazon course and a jungle-themed Congo course. My skills are definitely going to be put to the test.

The two courses are designed to test your short and long putting game, as well as your patience. But all while  having fun, too.

The first few holes are fairly simple, but as soon as we get past the fourth, it becomes competitive between me and my friend.

Some of the holes are designed very cleverly. You have the option to take the simple route leading to more strokes, or the risky route and attempt a hole in one.

If you take the riskier route, you’re more likely to fall behind than if you play it safe.

Different strokes

I begin to wise up after one hole which seems very easy when looking at it. I decide to be a bit cocky and end up with a five-stroke difference between me and my opponent.

I then begin to take the safer route to minimise any slip-ups. You start to get tactical without even realising.

It’s a test of both tactical decisions and skill. My accuracy and shot power are vital, especially on the holes with slopes and restricted vision.

If you have a good sense of judgement on how hard to strike the ball, then it  gives you the upper hand.

After completing the first course we tallied up the scores and saw that it was very much neck and neck. Instead of just hitting the ball towards the hole and hoping for the best, I was going to have to properly think each one through and judge exactly how hard or softly I would need to hit the ball in order to get ahead.

Caves and waterfalls

The water-based Amazon course has a whole new variable to consider. This course has us using ramps so the balls won’t end up in the river, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t happen to me at least once.

I liked the scenery here. There are a lot of waterfalls and for one of the holes we had to go inside a cave, which is very different from the average crazy golf venue.

The only thing I don’t like is that each of the 18-holes is very similar. The Congo course had more variety.

Although the Amazon course has the water factor to deal with and is pleasing on the eye, the Congo course is a lot more difficult and tests my skill more.

But both courses brought different elements to my experience, which was a good thing.

Lost Jungle also has foot golf, which is something to try on my next visit.

Overall the experience is really fun. I’d recommend going here with friends and family of all ages and in the summer, if possible. The staff are very helpful and it wasn’t too busy, so we were able to go at our own pace and really enjoy the golf.

Lost Jungle London

 is at Watford By-Pass
, Edgware
, HA8 8DD. The course is open daily, from 9am-4pm, with the last entry being at 3.15pm. Prices start at £8 for students for 18 holes going up to £12 if you want to do both courses. 

Flying Fulham see off stuttering Wolves

Fulham underlined their promotion credentials with a 2-0 win over Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers at Craven Cottage.

The hosts extended their home winning streak to eight games and are unbeaten in the league in 2018, closing to within a point of fourth-placed Derby County.

Rising star Ryan Sessegnon scored their first in the 38th minute, being in the right place at the right time yet again, and the second came from Aleksandar Mitrović in the 71st minute with some lovely individual brilliance to cap off a well-contested match.

Wolves managed just two shots on target and have dropped 12 points in their past eight games in all competitions, winning just three.

Slaviša Jokanović recalled Tomas Kalas, Floyd Ayite and Ryan Fredricks, which proved to be a good choice by the Fulham boss as Fredricks makes a crucial block from Helder Costa’s shot four minutes in, with Wolves quick out of the blocks.

The visitors did not have it all their own way early on, though, as good link-up play between Tom Cairney and Matt Target saw the ball end up at the feet of Sessegnon, who cut in to shoot but was crowded out by the Wolves rearguard.

In the 13th minute a shot from Cairney deflecting directly into the path of Mitrovic who managed to chip it over goalkeeper John Ruddy only to see his effort cleared by Wolves captain Conor Coady.

Increased pace

With play going back and forth in an open and fairly even first half-hour, the game was there for the taking, and it was Sessegnon who stepped up to the plate.

After a bad clearance from Ryan Bennett, Stefan Johansen and Mitrovic worked together once more to get the ball into the Wolves box, and a sloppy hold by Ruddy allowed Sessegnon to tap in for his 13th goal this season.

Wolves came out for the second half even more fired up than before, and the first booking of the contest came in the 48th minute after an obvious pull-back by Targett on the counter-attacking Costa.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo added attacking impetus in the 64th minute, with Diogo Jota and Morgan Gibbs-White coming on for Costa and Alfred N’Diaye, while Sheyi Ojo replaced Ayite for the hosts.

The changes were to no avail for the visitors, however, as Fulham doubled their lead seven minutes later. Mitrovic electrified the home fans on a bitterly cold evening with a shot from 25 yards out that went straight into the bottom corner.

A minute later, Johansen nearly made it 3-0 with an effort which narrowly skimmed past the post.

Five minutes from time, Wolves missed a golden opportunity when, with an open goal in front of him, Jota scooped the ball over the bar from five yards out.

With only two minutes of stoppage time added, Fulham’s fans celebrated in the freezing temperatures as their team sealed victory over the table-topping West Midlands outfit and kept up their own push for promotion to the top flight.

England Three Lions

Five things that need to change for England

After years of England underachieving in major tournaments, many Three Lions fans find themselves looking ahead to the 2018 World Cup Finals expecting little from their team beyond yet more failure.

If that sounds a bit harsh, cast your mind back to Euro 2016, and the implosion against Iceland – a country with a population of just 332,000.

That defeat sounded the death knell for manager Roy Hodgson, who also oversaw two losses and a draw (0-0 against Costa Rica) at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Understated current boss Gareth Southgate doesn’t play hype game, and has some decent young players at his disposal, but few believe England will really shine in Russia.

It may be too late for this summer, but there are still some things that could be put in place to boost their prospects on the biggest stages.

Winter break

It’s a commonly held belief that the likes of Spain Germany, France and Italy tend to do better at major tournaments because their domestic leagues take a mid-season winter break.

The argument runs that this gives players a chance to recharge their batteries, get over niggling injuries, and feel less burnt out come the end of the campaign.

There are, indeed, plenty of players getting injured during the December-January, when the Premier League fixtures come thick and fast, particularly over the festive period.

In December 2016, 113 missed games due to injury, and the figure rose in January 2017 to 143. There was 150 hamstring injuries in the 16/17 season which resulted in a total of 4,165 days missed.

England often go into tournaments missing key players through injury, or praying that no-one else picks up a knock in the early games.

Mind you, even without injuries, England performances in tournaments are often described as fatigued and boring.

Some claim the relentless physicality of the Premier League takes it toll, but is this – and not having a winter break – just a poor excuse for England’s underachievement?

Squad selection

Players are often picked on reputation and get the benefit of the doubt if they play for one of the so-called bigger teams; a prime example of this is Jordan Henderson.

His selection in the England squad is baffling when based on current form, and Southgate should now take him out of his plans and be ruthless like he was with Wayne Rooney.

Right now, players such as Jack Wilshere, Harry Winks and Eric Dier all offer more. Dropping Henderson and Gary Cahill would be just the start.

We’ve also had players switch allegiances. The main one that comes to mind is Wilfred Zaha, who represented England at under-19, under-21 and full international level in friendlies before opting to play for the country of his birth, Ivory Coast.

England have no one like him; skilful, pacy and unpredictable, someone who loves to take on and beat players.

Because his career at Manchester United didn’t work out for whatever reason, he found himself back at Crystal Palace putting in great performances but still being ignored by England which eventually led to him playing for Les Elephants.

What we will most likely see in the next major tournament is Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck being thrown out on the left wing, even though he is naturally a number nine, because he ‘works hard’ off the ball. It’s easy to see why Zaha made the decision to switch.

Taking responsibility

The players also need to take more responsibility. Making sure that they are mentally and physically able to deal with the expectations of international football is something that is forefront.

Good performances at major tournaments is key to re-gaining the enthusiasm of England fans.

One of the major things that has kept England from moving forward is the way they play. Being able to think for themselves is something that is easy to avoid at a club level, but it’s where the problems start in the international game.

England’s failure to express themselves under pressure, and actually looking scared to fail, has left them playing in stagnant, robotic patterns.

Compare England to a team like Wales who, although they only have one stand-out player in Gareth Bale, have a fearless and hardworking attitude that served them well at Euro 2016, beating Belgium, who were favourites to win the tournament, and then losing to eventual winners Portugal in the semi -finals.

If England take more risks and try to win games rather than trying not to lose them, they might stand a better chance.

High targets

The feeling exists that because the Premier League is deemed the best league in the world (which is a debate for another day), England should at least make the semi-finals at major tournaments.

But if you dig a bit deeper, you realise that most of the Premier League teams have large numbers of players from different countries playing for them.

Nearly 70% of players in the EPL are actually foreign, and this doesn’t leave much room for the young English talent to come through.

Prime examples of this are two of Chelsea’s many young players out on loan, Tammy Abraham and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Both have not really been given a fair crack at Stamford Bridge because the club would rather go out and buy tried-and-tested foreign talent than giving their academy prospects a chance.

It is understandable that fans demand their clubs recruit world-class players, but if they don’t promote homegrown young players, the team that really suffers is England.

Without getting first team experience in the league and European competitions under their belt, the best young English players won’t realise their potential.

Do the fans care anymore?

Due to England’s lack of achievement, many in their fanbase England have lost interest in the team. Wembley is a great stadium but hardly ever sells out, and attendances are significantly lower for friendlies.

In my opinion, what would revive the interest in England is if the team went on the road.

By playing international matches all around the country, the team would reconnect with their fans, much as they did in the interim period when the new Wembley Stadium was being built.

England’s recent success at age-group tournaments shows they have reasons to be optimistic about the future, but only if these action points are turned in reality.

England Three Lions photo by Keith Williamson via Flickr Creative Commons under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

What Cyrille Regis means to me

Until his recent death at the age of 59, many of my generation would only have had a vague awareness of Cyrille Regis as a footballer.

After all, the centre forward had been retired for more than 20 years, having played his last match at the age of 38 in 1996.

But the countless tributes paid to him after his sad passing have served to show younger people just how much he was respected both as a player and a man.

Regis remains an inspiration and pioneer, having paved the way for so many others by being one of the first black players to become a true star of the game.

He remains the blueprint for what a striker should be about – strong, quick and direct, with a cultured first touch and the strength of character to overcome adversity.

In the case of Regis and his fellow black players in the 1970s and 80s, that adversity took the form of vicious racism on the terraces of England’s crumbling and neglected stadia.

He made his name in an era when football was a fertile recruiting ground for the ultra right-wing National Front, and abuse from fans – and even other footballers – was commonplace.

Potential

Regis was born in French Guiana but moved to the UK with his family when he was five, growing up in Stonebridge, north-west London, where as a schoolboy he showed potential in cricket, football and athletics.

After leaving school, he worked as an electrician while playing for semi-pro sides Molesey and then Hayes & Yeading. While at Hayes he was spotted by West Brom’s chief scout Ronnie Allen and the rest is history.

Allen then became manager but left mid-season 1977-78 to be replaced by Ron Atkinson. The new Baggies boss wanted to play an attacking brand of football, and Regis – along with two other black players, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson – was fundamental to his vision.

With a team also featuring Bryan Robson, West Brom went on to finish third and fourth in the old First Division, with Regis establishing himself as a feared attacking force.

In 1984, he moved to Coventry City for £250,000 – how many millions would he be worth in today’s market? – and helped them to lift the FA Cup in 1987.

Barriers

In February 1982, Regis became the third black player to be capped by England after Viv Anderson and Cunningham, but only played five times for his country, and would surely have made more appearances but for the presence of Gary Lineker as a competing striker.

After leaving Coventry in 1991, he had spells at Aston Villa, Wolves, Wycombe Wanders and Chester City, making 701 appearances and scoring 205 goals in total.

But the bare stats of an impressive playing career are only part of his story; he was a role model who broke down barriers and helped black players gain wider acceptance at a time when football was still mired in racism and hooliganism.

Through his talent and determination, he changed how black players are perceived within the game, dismantling the pernicious stereotype of them being athletic but lacking in courage and intelligence.

Cyrille Regis and his fellow pioneers showed this to be absolute nonsense, and for that he will always be remembered.

Fulham style overcomes Bluebird brawn in festive thriller

Strong winds and heavy rain dampened the Boxing Day atmosphere at Cardiff despite the Bluebirds and Fulham delivering a late Christmas in South Wales.

The Cottagers eventually ran out 4-2 winners, inflicting a first Championship home loss of the season on the hosts, with man of the match Ryan Sessegnon demonstrating why he might attract interest during the January transfer window.

The versatile 17-year-old netted 12 minutes from time to make it 3-1 to the visitors. Cardiff gave themselves hope with a 92nd minute header by substitute Callum Paterson, but Stefan Johansen struck deep into added time to send the away fans into raptures.

The conditions were horrible for both sets of spectators but made for an exciting game, with the ball zipping off the surface and presenting a tough test for the goalkeepers.

Despite their team sitting second in the table behind Wolves going into the match, the home supporters were subdued throughout, while the energy of their Fulham rivals in the stands seemed to translate to the team in white.

Celebrating

Slaviša Jokanović’s team, seeking a third win in four games, were quicker to every 50/50, moving the ball around quicker and seeming like they wanted it more.

In the fifth minute, Johansen found himself in an advance position through on goal. Bruno Manga brought him down, but the referee waved ‘play on’ as the Fulham players appealed.

Just seven minutes later, however, their fans were celebrating as Tim Reem’s back-post header put them ahead. That blow sparked the Welsh side into life, and they began to pressure Fulham on the ball, leading to a scrappy period littered with fouls.

As the half drew to a close, Fulham again found themselves bombing forward on the break with numbers supporting the attack.

The ball was pinged to Ryan Fredericks on the right wing, but his attempted cross was cut out by Sol Bamba, and Fulham had to settle for being 1-0 up at the break.

Cynical

The second half began very much like the first, with Fulham dictating the play and creating the better chances, while Neil Warnock’s men resorted to cynical fouls.

It was only a matter of time before the visitors struck again, and their pressure told in the 56th minute. Sessegnon was the provider as he coolly took the ball past his covering defender, giving him the time and space to pick out Floyd Ayité as he steamed through for the simplest of tap-ins.

This time, the celebrations were short lived, as Cardiff hit hit back a minute later with the goal of the game. A Fulham clearance landed at the feet of striker Kenneth Zohore who hit a half volley from 25 yards out which flew past Fulham keeper Marcus Bettinelli.

Suddenly, the home fans found their voices, and Fulham knew they had a game on their hands.

Warnock went for broke with a double attacking substitution in the 73rd minute, bringing on Paterson and Rhys Healey. Fulham responded by sending right winger Rui Fonte into action, with both teams chasing the win.

Consolation

Fonte quickly made his mark, playing a lovely ball out to Sessegnon who chested it down and slotted calmly past keeper Neil Etheridge, seemingly sealing victory and sending some of the home fans towards the exits.

Paterson’s late goal for 3-2 felt more like a consolation effort, and with Cardiff throwing everything at Fulham to try and get the equaliser, they left themselves exposed at the back. Johansen’s audacious chip to make it 4-2 was the last kick of the game.

Fulham simply outclassed Cardiff, bossing the midfield where the contest was ultimately decided. The win kept them in 11th place, while Cardiff slipped to third behind Bristol City after they beat Reading.

Review – Stuck On You: The Football Sticker Story

These (digital) days, we tend to share our passion for football through apps, clips, emojis, gifs and memes. 

But before the age of social media dawned, it’s safe to say that kids – and boys in particular – demonstrated their love of the beautiful game through collecting Panini stickers.

From begging your parents for enough small change to buy yet another packet to help fill the latest album, to taking spares to school in the hope that someone will need what you have and do a swap, the Panini addiction ensnared many generations of young football fans.

It was explored in the ITV4 documenary Stuck on You: The Football Sticker Story, which kicked off with various grown men reliving their childhood obsessions with completing Panini’s annual (and big tournament) collections of soccer star portraits.

Kelvyn Gardner explained how he was willing to swap a lovingly and painstakingly assembled model airplane just to get his hands on a much sought-after George Best sticker.

Worldwide

The documentary showed how collecting Panini’s product grew an initial craze in the early 1970s to a worldwide phenomenon.

As the programme made clear, this was more than just a hobby in many cases – in fact, it veered towards becoming an obsession, and not only for children, but adults as well.

We were shown old snippets of adverts and footage of schoolkids racing around the playground in the search of the card they desperately needed.

It all seemed very familiar to me. For some must-have stickers, we would happily exchange bundles of swapsies to complete a team page, and negotiations over what ‘X’ was worth could be tense.

There was the supreme satisfaction of buying a new packet that contained stickers you’d needed for a long time – but always balanced by the crushing disappointment of getting the same ones over and over again.

‘Therapy’

But it was all worth it for the sheer pleasure of finally being able to complete your favourite team’s page, or even the holy grail of completing an entire album.

As one contributor to Stuck On You suggested, peeling back the adhesive and sticking a team’s emblem in the top left corner of its page was akin to “therapy”, and they weren’t wrong.

But as the ‘craze’ endured, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Panini, an Italian company founded by two brothers in Modena in 1961.

As others eyed its success, rival firms muscled in on its territory and the sticker collecting industry also expanded into toys (Care Bears album, anyone?), pop stars and all sorts of other stuff.

Collecting football stickers may no longer be the massive deal it once was, with kids these days preferring to play as their idols on games such as Fifa 17 rather than just having their photo in an album.

But Stuck On You was a real blast from the past, and brought back a lot of memories for those of us who feverishly bought and traded in that sticky-backed currency of our childhood days. And let’s not forget the ‘free’ bubblegum…

Thrilling, exhilarating, pure ecstasy – the fastest lap

Motor racing might be a rich man’s sport, but for just over £30 you can unleash your inner Lewis Hamilton in a flurry of fast straights, tight corners and daredevil overtaking. 

Go-karting experiences are the cheapest way of taking to the track and testing the limits of your abilities behind the wheel.

And as someone who only recently passed their driving test, I was keen to step out of my comfort zone and see if I have what it takes to beat other racers to the chequered flag.

The venue was Team Sport UK in Acton, west London, where getting briefed, suited and booted to go racing can cost as little as £32.

Football and boxing are more my thing, and I’ve never really understood the appeal of motorsport, but I soon found myself out on the track, trying to overtake other drivers and beat my own lap times.

In the pits

We were scheduled for a 3pm session and I thought it was going to be just me and my girlfriend, but it turned out there were five other racers raring to go at the same time. This brought on the nerves straight away.

We suited up and were then taken into a room to be shown a video explaining all the rules on how to be safe on the track, with a quick talk from one of the staff who calmed some of those nerves.

The track employees struck a good balance between being friendly and approachable while explaining all of the potential hazards and offering tips for getting the most out of our session.

Race One

After making sure our helmets were on properly and we were all comfortable in our karts, it was time for the safety laps.

We were tested on our knowledge of the different flags and whether we could follow instructions on stopping and slowing down, then the first 10-minute race session commenced.

‘I was excited to see how well I’d done in comparison to the others, but it turned out that I’d finished second to last’

The first corner saw my first mistake. As it loomed, I slowed down rapidly to avoid losing control, but lost too much speed and allowed another driver to overtake me.

I instantly realised that your judgement in karting had to be spot on; the slightest hesitation can add seconds to your lap time. It gave me a new-found respect for Formula One drivers. It’s not as easy as it looks…

There was also plenty of times on different turns where I didn’t slow down enough and ended up spinning out of control.

After 10 minutes, we were all called in to discover the results of the first session. I was excited to see how well I’d done in comparison to the others, but it turned out that I’d finished second to last.

This brought out my competitive side, and I wanted to drastically improve in the second race, but you could see from the reaction from the others that they did too.

The mood changed from it being a bit of fun to competitive racing.

Race Two

In the second race, everyone was taking a lot more risks after getting the feel of their karts and the track itself.

A lot more overtaking and a plenty of collisions were happening, which again makes you realise how talented F1 drivers really are.

It’s not just about having the fastest car; there are so many other aspects, like choosing your moment when to overtake and how to approach corners, because if you get it wrong in F1 it is potentially life-threatening.

After coming into the pits for the second time, the results showed that people were getting a lot faster and being a lot more tactical.

I was certainly happy as I went from second to last to 3rd place, and felt a real sense of achievement.

Race Three

The final race session began, but for me it was more about enjoying the moment rather than trying to completely outdo my opponents to win.

As each corner came up, I experimented on how to approach them, seeing what was best, increasing or decreasing the speed, or what angle to take the corner at.

By the end of it, I feel I had worked out how to race on the track to the best of my ability.

The Finish Line

Overall, my go-karting experience was a fantastic one. I was able to learn as I participated, which gave me a new-found respect for F1 as a sport.

It is something I would definitely do again with my friends for a birthday or get-together, and it was worth the money we spent.

For more information about go-karting at one of Team Sport UK’s tracks, visit their website.