Three years ago at dusk on a sunny evening, when the sky was a robin’s-egg’s blue and the wind was as soft as a day-old chick, I was sitting on the verandah of my farm home in eastern Iowa when a voice very clearly said to me, “If you build it he will come.”
As said by the story’s narrator John Kinsella in the magic realism book Shoeless Joe (1982). W.P. Kinsella’s novel, which wonderfully tells of an Iowa farmer building a farm so as to see the spirits of legendary baseball players, was famously adapted for the 1989 film Field of Dreams.
I’ve always been a big tennis fan. I played a lot as a child and have been lucky enough to see most of the top players live. I’ve read loads of tennis books, including, of course, Open by Andre Agassi (review here). I’ve also been to the famous lawns of Wimbledon, and even got a photo with the famous trophy. So I just had to go and see Roger Federer when he was in the Nitto World Tour Finals, an exclusive tournament for the best eight male players of the year. In the opening match of the London-based tournament, he faced Japanese star Kei Nishikori. But in a huge shock, the Swiss maestro lost 7-6 6-3.
On the podium, Ayrton was so nice and at one point he leaned over to me and whispered into my ear: “Well done Nigel. It’s such a good feeling, isn’t it? Now you know why I’m so difficult sometimes. I don’t ever want to lose the feeling or share it without anyone else.”
The indisputed genius that was three-time F1 World Champion Ayrton Senna, revealing in one quote his insatiable competitiveness and undeniable charm that made him so loved. The quote came in the both hugely entertaining and highly inspiring read, Staying on Track: The Autobiography (2015) by Nigel Mansell, who famously won the 1992 Formula 1 World Championship.
I kept it as a reminder of the evil some people had inside them. For the rest of my playing days, it was a motivation that they weren’t going to stop me.
As said by Cyrille Regis (1958 – 2018), the hugely inspirational and much loved former footballer, who has sadly passed. As well a huge goalscoring talent on the field, he also faced racist bigotry off the field which he dealt with a dignity and class that inspired later generations of black footballers. The quote refers to a bullet being sent to him before his senior England debut.
Michael Rudman, Skybox patron 1995 – 2005, as quoted in Big Shot, an episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. The 79 minute film tells of the major problem businessman John Spano had when buying the Islanders, an ice hockey team from Long Island, New York. You can find out more detail on the impact it had on Spano himself, the team and the community on a review by Digital Shortbread here.
There was so much to see on the Wimbledon visit I had recently that I had to seperate it into two parts. This post will focus on the guided tour (you can find my experience of the shop here), which takes you around different courts and the overall area. As there was so much to see, I’ve reviewed the tour in a non-linear way so as to group the photographs better.
As a gift from my good friend Tosha, I had tickets for the Wimbledon tour. As regulars of the blog will know, I am a big tennis fan. I’ve quoted numerous legends like Arthur Ashe and Chris Evert to current stars like Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro and been to the 02 to see the ATP World Tour Finals numerous times. I’ve read Andre Agassi’s autobiography Open, Fred Perry’s biography The Last Champion, Levels of the Game by sports writer John McPheeand Break Point by tennis journalist Kevin Mitchell.
Perfection is an asymptote. It is never achieved and only two things will happen if people go looking for it. Either they live unhappy lives because they are unable to find it, or they think they’ve found it and then worry every day they are going to lose it.
Taken from The Secret Footballer’s Guide to the Modern Game. Written by an anonymous former footballer, it lifts on the role of tactics, nutrition and psychology in current day Premier League football. The quote is taken from a Q&A with a secret sports psychiatrist.