Sport Editor Richard Browne puffs his way into the finishing straight…
After two years in the job, it’s time to hand over the baton and try not to drop it.
I would promise that this won’t turn into a reflection on my personal journey, but that wouldn’t strictly be true.
For every late hour spent in the Saint office and each gnashing of teeth as I tried and failed to come up with a puntastic headline for Water Polo that didn’t involve ‘making a splash’, this position has given me many great opportunities.
I’ve covered some fantastic events and competitions taking place in St Andrews, from the Ultimate Regionals last season to the Rugby Sevens a couple of weeks back.
As I’ve said many times before and will continue to beat down people’s earholes, St Andrews is a sporting hotbed. Considering how small a town we live in, we have more sports events happening than you can shake a golf club at.
And that brings me onto possibly my favourite event that I’ve had the pleasure of reporting on, right here in our little slice of greenery: the Dunhill Links Championships.
It was a wonderful chance to hang out in a purpose-built media centre and chat to folks who do this sporting lark for a living, as well as spot the stars and conduct some A-list interviews.
I did, alas, not uncover any more Hugh Grant gossip, but I did annoy Alan Hansen and get teased by Padraig Harrington, as well as stick a dictaphone into the journalist scrum surrounding Rory McIlroy – who only came second to compatriot Michael Hoey in the end. All in all, a good week’s work .
Before I event-drop you into a comatose state, I have one more to mention. It is of course the BUCS Championships in Sheffield last March. The top event for student sport in the UK, it involved around 20 different disciplines and athletes from universities across the country. There I discovered that volleyball is rather a good sport, and that Sheffield is surprisingly easy to get lost in.
We had medal winners in climbing, fencing, snooker and volleyball, which just made it an even better way to spend a week watching people run around and think ‘I could get used to doing this’.
And that is perhaps what I owe most to Saint Sport – a discovery and rediscovery of my love of sport.
Ulster’s Heineken Cup campaign this year has been cardiac-arrest-worthy, if also brilliant. I do have another example up my sleeve, and it comes from Saints Sport again.
The Women’s Basketball 1sts faced Aberdeen for the fourth time this season in the Scottish Conference Cup final. They had lost each of the past three meetings as Aberdeen breezed to the league title. Time for revenge?
It looked like it, as they moved 12 points
clear. But then Aberdeen mounted the comeback Saints had feared.
Usually that would have been that – Saints disappointed again. But something quite extraordinary happened. The St Andrews girls steeled themselves, upped the tempo and caught their opponents completely off guard.
Responding to the points blitz, the Saints supporters who had travelled through to Dundee – players’ family members and also the Saints Men’s team – roared their approval.
St Andrews won of course, and the game came as a welcome reminder of how sport, at whatever level or discipline, can stir the emotions and draw you in.
Yes, it sounds like emotional bullcrap and I’d be the first to be cynical about that sort of thing, but that was the case.
St Andrews athletes, while I’ve been here, have put on some superb and dramatic displays. If I’ve managed to demonstrate some of their abilities, highlight the odd hero or heroine and add a bit more (usually via that old favourite, the pun), then I’ve done my job.
And there’s the final whistle!