Category Archives: SPORTS

Back To Business For Economides

 (Image courtesy of Karen Preistley Photography)

It’s certainly been a tough time for Chester-based Cypriot super bantamweight, Paul Economides, 20-6(4).

Presently boasting a professional record of twenty wins from twenty-six outings, Economides had a rough spell which saw a fight postponed and issues surrounding meant a downtrodden star was close to quitting, before a chance meeting with now manager, Dave Coldwell.

Now, back in business, The Spartan, whose expected outing last month against fellow Welshman, Mark Evans, was cruelly snatched away due to paperwork irregularities in fight week, is ready to go this weekend in Manchester.

At the Bowlers Arena, the show that is promoted by former professional Kieran Farrell and headlined by two Area title contests, will see the Spartan continue his rise when opposing Bristol’s Ashley Lane, 8-8-2(1), over six rounds.

“I was told on the Thursday before the fight that my medicals weren’t in order and that really surprised and caught me off-guard as I was under the impression all was in order,” began Paul.

“There was no reminders and nobody told me it needed renewing so the only option was to postpone the fight (with Evans). Everything is now in order though and it’s all systems go for this weekend.”

Timing is everything for a boxer, however for their wives and partners not so, Katia, Paul’s wife, has just given birth to their second daughter, Sofia, five days late but there’s been no celebrations for the Spartan just yet, that will come after this weekend when opposing Lane.

“I had a few days after (the Evans postponement) but I’m feeling good, strong and definitely ready to go for this one.

“I’ve seen him (Lane) fight a few times, sparred him a few years back as well. He’s a really good fighter and his style suits me, he’s game and certainly comes to cause an upset, as he’s just done against an unbeaten lad a few weeks ago.

“I’m looking to impress and win though, that’s all I’m worried about and, although fighters don’t look ahead we all know who and what I want.”

Six years ago Economides lost, on points, for the then vacant Welsh super bantamweight strap to Cefn Fforest’s Robbie Turley, and the Cypriot fighter has been hankering for a rematch ever since.

“I want a rematch with Robbie Turley and a shot at the Commonwealth title but take nothing from Lane, he is a big threat and no mug having been in with some big names. Winning this though moves me another step closer to Turley and that strap.

“I’m excited for the weekend though and can’t wait to get back in the ring. I need to win this as there’s still pressure on me (following the Sean Davies reverse back in October for the WBC International) but I’ve had some good sparring again and I’m ready to go.”

Economides versus Lane is part of a stacked fight card at the Bowlers Arena on Saturday night which is headed by two Area title fights – Northern Area light heavyweight between Liam Conroy and Steve Cooper, and Central Area middleweight between Danny Sharp and Ben Davies.

Paul will be sporting the ‘White Ribbon’ in future outings as support for The White Ribbon Campaign which champions men against domestic violence.

Economides Announces Opponent For April 22

 (Images courtesy of Dave Thornton Photography)

Welsh-Cypriot super bantamweight, Paul ‘The Spartan’ Economides, 20-6 (4), steps back into the ring this month when he opposes Welsh rival and former Welsh Area champion, Mark Evans, 13-3-2(1), over six rounds.

Economides, who narrowly lost against Sean Davis in his last outing six months ago is chomping at the bit to get back to winning ways, citing world title success within eighteen months.

Now 30 the Chester Boxers star will take on ‘Little Marky’ at the Liverpool Echo Arena on April 22 on the undercard of Martin Murray – Gabriel Rosado live on Sky Sports, the fighter aiming to impress Matchroom supremo Eddie Hearn once again.

He said: “My training has been going really good and I’m feeling sharp now.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back in the ring and especially being back at the Echo Arena performing on a Matchroom show.

“I’m really excited for the Mark Evans fight for he’s a good opponent and that motivates me even more. I know the fans will have a good fight on their hands and I’m ready to put on a show.”

Evans, to date, has won thirteen of his eighteen contests, drawing two and the Holyhead fighter is a challenging proposition for Economides. The blips on Evans’ record all came in quick succession during what was a disastrous 2014.

He has since slowly rebuilt his professional career and both fighters will look to put on a great performance at the Arena later this month.

**NB** Economides has a Media Work-Out Day scheduled for Wednesday April 12 at Chester Boxers from 11am where the press are invited to interview Paul and his team, photograph and video him in a sparring session, and see what it’s like to be a professional boxer.

The Work-Out Day will take place at Chester Boxers, Unit 3A, Lightfoot Street, Chester. CH2 3AD – PLEASE REGISTER INTEREST BY NOON THIS SATURDAY, APRIL 8 via petermann78@hotmail.com to plan accordingly.

United’s Juniors Were A Class Above

Thommo, Watto and Howey who, alongside Clarkie and Elliott, were the boys of yesteryear done good; Ossie’s Boys who made the grade and went on to become Newcastle stars in their own right, after a baptism of fire that is.

During the early nineties the Magpies were on the blink of oblivion, staring relegation to the old Third Division point blank in the face and, with then manager Ossie Ardiles having blooded the kids into the St James Park cauldron, the onus was on them to get United out of a very fine mess.

Something had to give, and, unfortunately for Ardiles, it was his job that was sacrificed, in came Kevin Keegan and the rest is, as they say, pretty much history.

The first of the Magpies ‘famous five’ to debut was Steve Howey, wearing the number seven, on May 3 1989, some 27 years ago, at home to West Ham. It would be mid-way through the 1990-91 season that Lee Clark (vs. Bristol City, as a sub for Neil Simpson) and Steve Watson (vs. Wolves) made theirs.

Come March 1991 Robbie Elliott would come on a sub against Middlesbrough and eight months later the fifth, and final debutant from the United Youth ranks, Alan Thompson, would make his bow away to Swindon, coming on a sub for Andy Hunt – it’s certainly a bygone era for the stars of yesteryear and for the three of them, Steve Howey, Steve Watson and Alan Thompson, they wouldn’t change it for anything.

“I made my debut way back under Jim Smith in 1989, playing three times at the end of the season (against West Ham, Millwall and Manchester United),” began Howey.

“However, I didn’t play the following season and had to wait until August 1990 to pull on a first team jersey again. By this time Ossie (Ardiles) was in charge and, although it was actually difficult to play the game with kids and struggled, he was actually brilliant in other aspects and brought us on really well.

“I can actually lay claim to having played in three decades at Newcastle, the eighties, nineties and noughties under managers who liked me and thought that I could play football.

“Having started as a junior with the club I’ve played under (Jack) Charlton, (Jim) Smith, (Ossie) Ardiles, (Kevin) Keegan, (Kenny) Dalglish, (Ruud) Gullit and Sir Bobby Robson before moving to Manchester City, coincidentally under Kevin Keegan.

“Keegan kept the likes of us kids when he joined the club (towards the end of the near disastrous 1991-92 campaign) and went on to bring in stronger players, building up the club up with us as foundations.

“He did the same with City as well (also winning the Championship title), forging a great set of players who could match others around them. We had some really good players in both sides and it showed – the commitment and effort shone through with both sides.”

If Howey was at the forefront of United’s younger generation, Watto can lay claim to being the youngest, when on November 10 1990, he burst onto the scene away to Wolves, at the tender age of 16 years, 7 months and nine days, a record which still stands today.

For Watto, the dark days of the past are a time which are levelled by the success they achieved, just one thing they believe they could have done better with.

“It is a pity that we never managed to win a title for all else that we accomplished during that period,” added Watto.

“The famous example of what can be achieved was the Man. United class of ’92; us, at Newcastle’s School of Excellence, had been at school together since we were six and we always hoped that things would get better, be successful and there was plenty of dark days and you have to learn from those experiences and take it forward into what you do next.

“What Keegan did though, the impact he had during those years, was unexpected and the club has been up and down since then. He was one of several, high profile managers that I enjoyed playing under, some good people irrespective of club but the memories, they stay.

“Highlights, then there’ll always be making your debut at St James’ back in November 1990; that along with the games against Man United, Barcelona, both the Liverpool games, and of course winning promotion – that was special.”

The last of the five, Alan Thompson, was shorn of luck during his spell with his hometown club but went on to win honours galore north of the border with Glasgow Celtic in the Scottish Premier League.

He also went on to enjoy coaching spells with both clubs between 2008 and 2012 but being at Newcastle United is an opportunity too good to turn down, in any capacity; those and testimonials play rise to similar feelings of satisfaction.

“It was a great opportunity for the younger lads and, although it wasn’t ideal where the first team were placed at the time, to pull on that jersey, in front of those fans, was absolutely amazing,” Thommo continued.

“My chances though were limited so ended up moving to the North-West and Bolton where there was a completely different feel, a change compared to what life was like at Newcastle.

“When I moved onto Celtic (after a spell at Aston Villa), I was involved in what was probably the most successful period in their modern history (European Cup in the sixties aside). At a club like Celtic, it’s all about the winning.

“I then came back to Newcastle for a spell on the coaching staff which I absolutely loved although going back to Parkhead was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.”

Three of United’s ‘famous five,’ Steve Howey, Steve Watson and Alan Thompson, will be appearing in the ‘Entertainers 20th Anniversary Game’ at Kingston Park in aid of the Alan Shearer Foundation between Newcastle Legends and Manchester Select.

The Spartan Rises

April 22, at the Liverpool Echo Arena, witness the next phase in the rise of The Spartan, Paul Economides, as he begins his pursuit of world glory.

Under the expert guidance of manager Dave Coldwell, and erstwhile trainer Steve Goodwin, the Chester-based super bantamweight is now on the lookout for international titles, and a potential rematch with Sean Davies, over the next fourteen months.

“I do want to be fighting for titles this year,” stated The Spartan.

“Whether it’s a rematch with Davies (for the WBC International) or challenging for say the Commonwealth, or Inter-continental, or something similar. It has to be this year though and to then be challenging for a world title in around 14-16 months.”

Opposing Davies was performed at short noticed, coming days after the Spartan had dismissed Elvis Guillen on points on Merseyside before suffering a unanimous decision reverse, in Birmingham.

“I’d love a fair, proper shot at Davies and that WBC title,” Paul continued.

“I took that fight at short notice but I have trust in my manager, Dave Coldwell’s, decisions, he’s opened doors I’ve never had opened before and everything he’s said he do, he’s done.”

Now the fighter, described as being a front-footed, in-your-face, talented and exciting, is gunning for his fourth successive outing on an Eddie Hearn/Matchroom Boxing promotion, again on Merseyside, and Economides, who presently boasts a 20-6(4) record, who was brought up in Wales with Cypriot heritage, is preparing for the year of his life.

He added: “I’m never out of the (Chester Boxers) gym; I work there, and I train there.

“I’ve got great sparring with world calibre fighters in Jamie and Gavin McDonnell, among others, which is very competitive and I know I’ll be a tricky, difficult fight for anyone and I’ll continue to show that on April 22.”

Paul Economides will also now be sporting the ‘White Ribbon’ in future outings as support for The White Ribbon Campaign which champions men against domestic violence.

He is also looking for national sponsorship to aid in his title chasing progression for which further information is available from thespartan.sponsorship@outlook.com.

Pav’s Brother, Milan Srnicek, To Play In Goal At Entertainers Game

The Entertainers Game next month will have an added, heart-felt feel to it with the announcement that Milan Srnicek, the brother of former Newcastle United goalkeeper, Pavel Srnicek, will take his brothers’ place between the sticks for the Newcastle Legends.

Pavel, who joined the Magpies during the early-90’s from Banik Ostrava, became a cult hero at St James Park, going on to make over 150 appearances for the club he fell in love with.

A Czech International, Pavel, who last year brought out under Mojo Risin’ Publishing ‘Pavel is a Geordie’ a matter of days before his untimely passing, would, without question, have played in goal on October 9 for the Newcastle Legends against a Manchester Select.

Now, his brother Milan, will share the goalkeeping duties with Pav’s friend and ‘keeper rival, Steve Harper, one of United’s longest serving player, himself a stalwart of some two decades with the Black & Whites.

Although not as experienced as his brother, Milan is scheduled to play the first half and will be replaced, by Harper, at the interval. He said: “I’m honoured and I greatly appreciate it!

“I’ve never been between the ‘sticks’ so I hope I will not disgrace the name Srnicek and I am extremely happy that I will be back among people who so loved my brother so much.

“I am taking the challenge very seriously and my brothers’ last club, Sparta Prague, have invited me to train with them. Dan Zidka is goalkeeping coach who worked with Pavel and will train me.”

Srnicek and Harper’s time with the Magpies overlapped during the halcyon days of the nineties with Harper joining from local non-league, Seaham Red Star, in 1993, as back-up to Pav – it would be some five years and five loan spells before he would make his first-team debut, coming on a half-time substitute against Wimbledon in 1998.

More out than in Harper is probably best placed to discuss Pav, and the Entertainers era, especially with his being back-up to that of Srnicek, Hislop and Given; but it was the former that struck a chord, with Harper and the Toon Army.

He added: “As someone who witnessed the Entertainers day in, day out, in the mid-90’s just prior to my breaking into the first team squad.

“I’m honoured to be asked to replace Pavel and to split the goalkeeping duties with his brother Milan.

“I can remember Milan regularly came to watch us training at Maiden Castle back in those days and hopefully he’ll have picked up some useful tips from his brother.”

Spoils Are Shared As The Alan Shearer Foundation Wins

It was one of those days at Kingston Park on Sunday afternoon as Alan Shearer’s Newcastle Legends took on Keith Gillespie’s Manchester Select in a game in aid of the Alan Shearer Foundation.

Shearer rolled back the years by playing the entire first half, as did the likes of Steve Harper, who pulled off some blinding saves, along with cameos for that of Beardsley, Sellars and Fox; even the Manchester lads chipped in with Lee Hendrie showing his youthfulness and running the show, as did Gillespie who put in a great shift of his own.

It would be the former Newcastle number nine who would open the scoring during the first half as well. Showing his usual predator instincts following a cross from the left by flying wing-back, Joh n Beresford – he celebrated in usual style with arm raised, celebrating with the 6,001 fans who turned out.

Hendrie and Ritchie were proving to be a nuisance up front as well for Manchester, testing the Magpies defence as often as possible but Harper was having none of it, even diving full length, across goal, to tip away a brilliantly struck free kick from Hendrie.

Referee Barry Sweeney even got in on the act when he waved away a ‘controversial’ decision towards the end of the first half after Tino Asprilla went down under a challenge in the box but it was waved away

Shearer snuck in at the back post following a cross from Alan Thompson but the shot was punched away from six yards out by Kevin Pilkington but, following a few substitutions by both sides the first half finished 1-0 to the Newcastle Legends.

Shearer and Ferdinand led the Magpies out for the second half but they remained on the bench, Ferdinand prowling the touchline and shouting directions with a smile.

Within five minutes of the restart there was a special substitution. Late last year former Magpies goalkeeper, Pavel Srnicek, sadly passed away, and his brother Milan, who had been training with Sparta Prague, made an appearance and he was immediately called into action making a couple of easy saves with chants of ‘Pavel is a Geordie’ soaring around the ground.

It wouldn’t be long before the Manchester Select levelled though, Keith Gillespie finishing well amidst a cacophony of boos. Bez (of the Happy Mondays) scuffed a shot as Hendrie still proved to be a thorn before Fox fired over the bar from the edge of the box.

After more substitutions Jamie McClen restored Newcastle’s lead after a shot from Beardsley rebounded back out but Manchester were soon level again with actor Ralf Little restoring parity in the latter stages, again to ‘boos’ from the Newcastle faithful.

As both sides hunted what would have been a late winner there was time for a disallowed goal, and Ruel Fox to show off some trickery on the edge of the bod but it was to finish level at 2-2 and the cup was shared.

Afterwards Newcastle manager Alan Shearer said: “The game was played in high spirits and in front of a great crowd which is just superb for the Foundation.

“Harps did really well and can still do a fantastic job as he proved and it was just right that we got Milan (Srnicek) involved, it was good for him and he got a fantastic reception.

“As for me, I didn’t think I’d last that long but it was good fun and it was a great finish from me as well.”

The game though was all about the Entertainers, and raising money for the Alan Shearer Foundation and Shearer added his thanks, not only to the fans, but to the lads for travelling.

He said: “I’d like to thank everyone for turning up , including Tino, who’s come from Colombia, and Les, who’s travelled up from London, lads have come from everywhere but I’d like to thank everyone for getting involved.”

 

 

Europeans Call For O’Connor

Sixteen-year-old junior national champion, Georgia O’Connor, who trains with Paul Lysaght and Tony Galliphant at the Durham University Boxing base at Hild & Bede, has been called up to represent England at next month’s European Championships in Turkey.

Returning to the scene she medalled last year is an achievement in itself for the three times Junior National champion and she’ll be looking to begin the new season in emphatic style.

Heading to Sheffield the day before the squad heads to Turkey, O’Connor, who is one of only a handful of athletes on the female excel programme, is progressing nicely at Durham having moved from Brandon at the end of last season.

Last week saw Georgia, alongside other top junior athletes around the country, attend a four-day junior and youth selection camp at Sheffield’s Institute of Sport where she achieved her goal saying: “I’ve had a fantastic camp alongside the best female boxers in the country.

“I’ve gained some valuable sparring experience with two of the elite boxers that were present and techniques from all the coaches down at GB.

“I’m feeling really excited to go to Turkey. After representing England in the Europeans last year and obtaining a bronze medal I’m hoping to do even better this year, my ultimate goal to bring back a gold medal.

“Me and my parents usually plan a holiday in the six weeks however this year I am having to forfeit again; I’ve also made other sacrifices as my training has got to be prioritised at this time so that I can be the best I can be.

“Flying out to different countries with my England teammates and coaches is one of the proudest feelings I have ever experienced, and I can’t wait to do it all again come September.

“I’d like to thank my coaches at Durham, Paul Lysaght and Tony Galliphant for all the extra training and coaching they have given me, and will continue to do so to make sure I perform at my best. I really appreciate everything they are doing, and I hope I make them proud.”

Durham were only too happy to answer the call from England Coach Amanda Coulson to put Georgia under their wing and, with a female section which includes the like of Jess Slaughter, Leanne Street and Chanel Wild, Paul Lysaght is delighted with the 16-year-old’s early progression.

He said: “She came to us a few months ago and we were delighted that we were able to help.

“Georgia is a nice, dedicated girl with a lovely attitude. Not only is she grounded and down-to-earth, she also helps the other girls in the gym.

“I’m personally committed to help her for the Euros and whether it’s speed, stamina, strength, running or even nutrition, we’re there for her.

“This is also a great benchmark for us as a club to have someone like Georgia here. We’re now just working through the programme between myself and Tony whilst adding some fun into the mix as well to keep her going.”

Any potential sponsors interested in Georgia’s progression can contact through here Facebook page ‘Georgia O’Connor – Boxing‘ or by emailing petermann78@hotmail.com for information.

O’Connor Looks To Excel For England

Waterhouses junior, Georgia O’Connor, has followed up claiming her third national junior title by announcing being one of only seven females on England’s new excel programme, and will be competing in the upcoming season out of the Durham University campus.

O’Connor, 16, claimed the 70kg title back in April at Birtley to cap what has been a fantastic transfer from Taekwondo to Boxing a few years ago. She is now a three-time junior national in both combat sports.

“I’m very happy to be training at Durham University and I’m looking forward to representing them in upcoming fights and tournaments,” began Georgia.

“It’s a fantastic gym with such a friendly atmosphere, and I can honestly say it’s the best pace I’ve trained at in a long time.

“I’m hoping to be able to go and study there (at Durham University) once I have completed my A Levels, so it’s great to be associated with the university itself. The coaches, Paul Lysaght and Tony Galliphant, are working closely with my Head England Coach, Amanda Coulson, to aid my development as a boxer.”

As one of seven females, nationally, on the female excel programme, Georgia’s future is in hand and is she is looking forward to showing what she is capable of with the goal of reaching Tokyo in 2020. She’s seen what the current crop of fighters have achieved and, wishing that of Josh Kelly and Savannah Marshall from the region a golden Olympics this time around, begins preparing herself.

“I feel honoured to be one of the seven female boxers in the country on the female excel talent pathway,” she continued.

“It came about due to my continuing success throughout last season and I am very happy, and grateful, to be a part of it.

“Female boxing was not very common when I switched sports, however it has become increasingly popular over the years and I am delighted with the progress that has been made in general.”

Anybody interested in sponsoring Georgia can email Peter via petermann78@hotmail.com; her progression can also be followed on social media with Facebook Georgia O’Connor – Boxing and on Twitter @geo_oconnor.