Fans return to a football ground
There were fans at a football match in England for the first time in nearly six months last Saturday as Brighton hosted Chelsea in a pre-season friendly at the Amex stadium. Just over 2,500 Brighton fans were allowed in to watch their side play out a dress rehearsal of the two sides’ opening Premier League fixture in two weeks. This pre-season, for obvious reasons is not like pre-seasons of seasons gone by. There is no grand tour of America or Asia to promote your club on the other side of the world. It has retreated to something more likely seen in the 1980s. You would go around playing some local sides from the lower divisions to get ready for the upcoming season. I have to say I quite like it. The game itself was a case of getting the players match fit and used to the tactical system, rather than actually caring too much about the result. With only two weeks since the season ended, there is not quite as much ground to make up. In Chelsea’s case, the two signings that had been made before this week, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech had in fact been training with the side since before the end of the Premier League season. They just needed a runout against another team rather than members of their own squad.
What will take the headline was the safe return of fans to a live football match. Strict social distancing measures were in place across the two stands that were open, e-tickets were scanned to gain entry, contactless payments were the order of the day. Fans were reminded to wash their hands regularly. Face coverings were required on the concourse outside the ground but not when in their seats. No Chelsea fans were allowed to attend the game, which makes complete sense. Credit must go to the Brighton fans who were able to attend the game. They followed the instructions to a tee, never tried to push the limits and gave hope that the Premier League, government and the relevant bodies may well be able to devise a plan for the phased return of fans to Premier League stadiums before the end of this season. That is the dream for all football fans. To be able to return to the terraces and watch their team play.
RIP Chadwick Boseman
On Saturday, the world woke to the tragic news that actor Chadwick Boseman had passed away at 43, after a four-year fight with colon cancer. Best known for his portrayal of King T’Challa aka Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Boseman also played other black icons like baseball player Jackie Robinson and soul singer James Brown on screen. However, it will be as the King of Wakanda that Boseman will always be remembered. From his explosive entrance in Captain America: Civil War, to creating a cultural milestone with Black Panther, a film set in Africa, starring a predominately black cast and directed by a black director. This wasn’t an indie film, this wasn’t a small scale drama. This was a major franchise movie about a black character fronted and helmed by black people that did touch on how the rest of the world has treated black people and people of minorities. This was a genuine role model for young, and adult, black people the world over from a genre that has been led by white male characters. He was incredibly aware of how every choice he made would be taken by black people. He was adamant that T’Challa speak with an African accent. The character is incredibly intelligent, well read and having attended and received degrees from all of the most prestigious universities on the planet. Boseman understood that T’Challa is the king of an African nation, one with the most advanced technology on the planet. His accent would not be overtaken by Western standards. Boseman was also able to learn his lines in a new language to shoot an idea he had worked out with John Kani, the South African actor who played his character’s father, T’Chaka. John Kani’s native language is Xhosa, and he and Chadwick Boseman decided to do their scene together in Xhosa. Boseman re-learnt the lines on the day of shooting. No real preparation, and yet it is effortless. So much of what Boseman did on screen was seemingly effortless, with no sign of the work that went into every frame.
Chadwick Boseman never disclosed his ill health. He continued to work, to bring characters to life and raise awareness and funds for areas worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. All while he was going through multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy. Brave, conscientious and the embodiment of so many icons, may he rest well.
Hamilton wins again to demonstrate his utter dominance
Well, it’s the usual story in Formula One. Lewis Hamilton took his fifth win in seven races this year and the 89th of his career. We all knew this would be a pivotal season for Hamilton, as he chased down Schumacher’s win record and equalled his seven world titles. But I don’t think anyone anticipated how dominant he would be. The race at Spa was led from lights out to chequered flag. Hamilton’s quest for a historic seventh world title is increasingly looking like it will be a cruise, aided by the fact that Ferrari is absolutely nowhere this season. Vettel is already on his way out at the end of the season, but the car is just not competitive.
Some fans will complain that yet again Hamilton will win the title just because he has the best car. Well, what world champion hasn’t? I think that is a nonsense argument from people who don’t Lewis Hamilton the person. The car does not do all the work; if the car doesn’t have a driver the make it go, then you’ll never get anything anyway. If you put Lewis Hamilton in a current Williams, he’s going to have to drive just as well as he did on Sunday to finish in the points at all. You have to strike a balance between having an excellent driver and having the best car. And as we all know, the Mercedes-Hamilton partnership has been an exceedingly fruitful one for both parties.
Hamilton really hit another level this race weekend. His qualifying was near faultless and he did not make a single mistake to squander the advantage he had gained for himself. If he maintains this dominance over the field, he will truly take his place among the greats of the sport.