FreshAir Sport is produced, presented and run by me. We cover the likes of professional football clubs Hearts, Hibernian, and Edinburgh City, professional Pro12 rugby club Edinburgh Rugby, professional ice hockey club Edinburgh Capitals, as well as lower level and University sport. Below is one of the live shows from late 2016.
Month: January 2017
I produced and was part of the commentary team for FreshAir.org.uk’s coverage of both the 2015 and 2016 RBS Scottish Varsity rugby match between the University of Edinburgh and the University of St. Andrews at Murrayfield.
FreshAir presents a special report on the EU Referendum, presented by Conor Matchett. Contributors include ex-Foreign Secretary Lord Owen, Director of Scottish Vote Leave Tom Harris, Chair of Scotland Stronger In Europe Professor Mona Siddique, and NUS Scotland Vice President of Education Rob Henthorn.
This was written for The Scotsman, and published in the Scotland on Sunday and online on The Scotsman’s website.
The Africa Cup of Nations is often regarded as a mere distraction by some and an inconvenient disruption by others, but this year’s edition of the competition has more chance of making an impact on Scottish fans, as it will have a representative from the SPFL at the competition.
Hearts midfielder and fans’ favourite Arnaud Djoum will be eager to make an impression following his call-up to the Cameroon squad that will face the host nation Gabon, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso in Group A of the competition.
Djoum, who was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, before moving to Belgium at the age of four, had been completely off the radar of the Indomitable Lions boss Hugo Broos during a professional career that started brightly at Dutch side Roda JC.
In Holland the midfielder played more than 100 games, and gained five caps for Belgium’s youth sides, before moves to Turkish side Akhisar Belediyespor and Polish club Lech Poznan brought about a minor stagnation.
Since his arrival at Hearts in September 2015, however, his form has picked up and has brought him to the attention of Broos, Cameroon’s Belgian coach attending games at both Celtic and Aberdeen this season to personally assess the midfielder.
Three caps have since followed, and despite high-profile drop-outs from the Cameroon squad that include Liverpool’s Joel Matip and West Brom’s Allan Nyom, Djoum is there on merit rather than luck.
Former Hearts goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi will also participate in Gabon. The Algerian joined the Tynecastle club at the end of the 2005 summer transfer window when Vladimir Romanov’s funds were put to their fullest and most scattergun use (11 players were signed by the club in that window, seven on the final day, including future regulars Jose Goncalves and Bruno Aguiar).
M’Bolhi never played for Hearts, but has gone on to play almost 50 times for his country, including Algeria’s 0-0 draw with England in the 2010 World Cup, and was named man of the match for his 11-save performance when Algeria took Germany to extra time in the 2014 World Cup. He will appear in his third Africa Cup of Nations this year.
English clubs will be the heaviest hit by the competition, with 35 players from the Premier League and Championship receiving call-ups. Arsenal will be without midfielder Mohamed Elneny who joins up with Egypt, Manchester United will miss the impressive Eric Bailly who will turn out for the Ivory Coast, and Leicester City have released their star man Riyad Mahrez and 2016 signing Islam Slimani who will both appear for Algeria.
The biggest losers are Newcastle United, who will be without the talents of midfielders Mo Diame (Senegal), Christian Atsu (Ghana) and defenders Achraf Lazaar (Morocco) and Chancel Mbemba (DR Congo).
This piece was written for The Scotsman, and was published online. I also wrote a longer piece on Rosberg’s retirement for The Scotsman, which you can find here; http://www.scotsman.com/sport/motorsport/no-outpouring-of-emotion-over-nico-rosberg-retirement-1-4307731
The 31-year-old German won his first and only world title on Sunday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the title by five points. Rosberg has said that he is not willing to make a similar sacrifice again having achieved the ultimate prize in the sport.
In a statement released on his Facebook page he said: “I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right. “This season, I tell you, it was so damn tough. I pushed like crazy in every area after the disappointments of the last two years; they fuelled my motivation to levels I had never experienced before.
“My proudest achievement in racing will always be to have won the world championship with this incredible team of people, the Silver Arrows.”
His retirement leaves an empty race seat at Mercedes that will need to be filled before pre-season testing for the 2017 season begins in Catalunya in February.
Most of the top drivers, including the likes of Sebastian Vettel, have long-term contracts with their current teams, and would cost Mercedes a lot to sign.
German youngster and Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein, who is part of the Mercedes young-driver programme, could be in line for a promotion far earlier in his career than expected.
Seez, who recently turned 15, won both the Scottish Under-16 and Overall Boy titles at the Junior, Under-21 and Novice Scottish Archery Championships in Montrose earlier this year.
The youngster was delighted with his success, saying: “I was so happy to win the Under-16 boys title, and then to also be awarded overall junior boy was amazing. It’s incredible that I beat such strong competition.”
With Tokyo 2020 on the horizon, Joe revealed his Olympic ambitions. “I’d like to continue to shoot for Scotland, but would also like to shoot for Great Britain, travel the world and shoot in the Olympics one day.”
Joe started shooting four-and-a-half years ago when he was inspired by demonstrations at the town’s Gala Day. He now attends the Scottish Junior Archery Academy and is being coached by the University of Edinburgh’s Alistair Whittingham.
This year alone, Joe has broken two Scottish records at Under-16 level, one of which had stood for seven years.
The next major step for Seez is next month’s National Indoors where he will shoot alongside and against some of Britain’s most talented young archers.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge of shooting against the top archers in the UK,” he added.
This was published online and in print by the Edinburgh Evening News.
The 22-year-old Swiss fencer beat champion Alison Timmins 15-13 in the final at Oriam to win the competition for the first time.
Koch said: “The final itself was quite exciting because it was on a big piste with dimmed lights and very eerily silent compared to the rest of day where everyone is competing around you.
“It was a fantastic event. Scottish Fencing really outdid themselves.”
Koch started fencing when she was seven after taking the sport up, inspired by their grandfather’s collection of ‘Zorro’ films. She revealed: “We used to watch the films as kids and I was a bit tomboy-ish, so I decided to try the sport and fell in love with it!”
Koch continues the success for Edinburgh University at the event after 2013 graduate Calum Johnston won the men’s Epee for a fourth consecutive year, beating Jamie Firth 15-12.
Johnston, 24, is a member of Linlithgow Fencing Club, and won the British Championship in April earlier this year. He will represent Scotland in the 5 Nations competition on November 5.
“Winning it for a fourth time is special,” said Johnston. “I think only two others have done that so to be in such exclusive company is a really great feeling.”
In the Foil class, Keith Cook won his 12th Open, while Chloe Dickson successfully retained her crown from earlier in the year, as did Stephen Rocks in the Sabre. Jennifer Sancroft won in the women’s Sabre class.
This was published online and in print by the Edinburgh Evening News.
The University of Edinburgh men’s XI will be hoping to “stop the rot” against St Andrews University in the annual RBS Scottish Varsity match at BT Murrayfield tomorrow with more than 11,000 tickets sold for the match.
St Andrews’ men have emerged victorious in the past three matches, with last year’s 27-26 win secured in the dying seconds of the match thanks to a touchline conversion from scrum-half Finn Murphy.
Edinburgh captain Nick Stephen said: “It’s an amazing experience playing in front of 10,000 people, and we’re hoping for more this year.
“We’ve had a really strong pre-season and had a few wins in that. I’ve been involved in two of the Varsity games so far and it’s been pretty tough as they’ve been difficult losses to take, especially last year’s, but we are looking to stop the rot – that’s our motivation.”
St Andrews, meanwhile, will be looking for revenge in the women’s fixture, with the result last year a one-sided affair after Edinburgh easily won 36-7, helped by a hat-trick of tries from Lisa Thomson.
Tickets costing £5 and will be available at the gate, with the women’s match kicking off at 5pm before the men’s at 6pm.
There is also full live radio coverage of both matches from 4.30pm on FreshAir.org.uk
I’m a print and broadcast journalist based in Edinburgh, covering mainly football and University sport for FreshAir.org.uk and The Student.
My work has also been published in print and online by the Edinburgh Evening News, The Scotsman, and the Scotland on Sunday.