Sport’s Personality of the Year: McIlroy or Hamilton?

With Christmas fast approaching, along with it comes Sports Personality of the Year. Last year Andy Murray walked the contest, with bookies paying out as soon as he won Wimbledon in July, but this year isn’t a one-horse race. Rory McIlroy has been the favourite with the bookies for most of the year, but after last weekend’s F1 finale, Lewis Hamilton is well within a shot of winning the trophy. So which one would you go for?

SPOTY trophy

 

A golfer hasn’t won the award since Nick Faldo 25 years ago, but McIlroy has the best chance of any since then to pick up the trophy. McIlroy won two major titles in 2014, first at Hoylake followed by Valhalla, and then went on to play a strong part in Europe’s victory over America in the Ryder Cup. He ended the year as the Europea Tour’s No. 1 player and all of this makes him the favourite for the trophy come December.

However, it won’t be as clear cut as people may have first thought. Similar to golf, an F1 champion hasn’t been named Sport’s Personality of the Year since 1992 but Hamilton will be hoping he can change that after he won the drivers’ championship for the second time in his career last Sunday, therefore being a key player in bringing the victory to the Mercedes team. To add to this, he has secured many British records, his 33 wins so far in his career being a particularly impressive one.

So who deserves it more? Hamilton has stood out of late, and the timing of his win may help him out when it comes to winning the award. However, McIlroy’s continued dominance across the year looks to put him in pole position. Of course, there are 8 other nominees including Gareth Bale and Carl Froch, but it’s unlikely that anybody is realistically looking past McIlroy and Hamilton when calling the winner.

Wayne Rooney: England hero?

Wayne Rooney has this week come out and said that to be anywhere near as big a legend as Sir Bobby Charlton – he’d have to win a major trophy with England. But do England fans believe even that would be enough?

 

Wayne Rooney

 

Rooney has come in for increased criticism in recent years, despite continuing to be prolific for England, so is he an England legend, or does he not compare to the true England greats?

He started his England career with such high expectations, with great potential, becoming England’s youngest player when he came on against Australia in 2003. 12 years on, the England captain is not set to join a select group when he earns his 100th (and golden) cap against Slovenia on Saturday, an award that should not go without praise.

And he doesn’t have to stop there. Shilton’s record of 125 caps is easily reachable, whilst he is only 6 goals behind Bobby Charlton’s all-time scoring record for the Three Lions. Passing both of these would surely put him up there with the best, would it not?

However, he has never quite reached the level that many imagined he would after seeing him play in the early stages of 2004. His leg-breaking injury ended the excitement, and England’s hope of doing well, and it’s arguable that we have never looked as good as a team since then.

Rooney’s own opinion is a fair one, major trophies still separate him from the likes of Charlton, winner of the World Cup, and Lineker, 1986 Golden Boot winner. Not many people expect England to win a major tournament any time soon, and therefore he may always lie short in that category, but if he did pull off the unthinkable then critics would certainly have to think again.

He may have had his low points in the England shirt, but to remain as one of the best for 10 years and counting is a massive achievement. The determination of whether he is an England great is all down to opinion. What are you measuring it by? Who are you comparing him too? Whatever you think, as England’s captain, we must all get behind him on the road to Euro 2016.

Mid-Term Trophy Evaluation

All of a sudden we’ve hit November and we’re well into the 2014/15 footballing season. Ahead of the busy Christmas schedule, we look at the 4 main trophies, and the contenders for each.

 

Chelsea 2009-2010

Chelsea 2009-2010: Record Breakers.

 

PREMIER LEAGUE

After just over a quarter of the season played, the table is finally beginning to pan out as many would have expected (with one or two exceptions!). Chelsea have already got a 4 point lead at the top, and are the obvious favourites to be lifting the trophy come May. Whilst Man City are currently sitting in 3rd, they look to have overcome a sticky patch, and will be Jose Mourinho’s closest rivals in the race. Liverpool and Manchester United have not started well, and look to be aiming to get in the top 4 rather than winning the league. Arsenal are sitting nicely in 4th and are outsiders for the top spot.

 

LEAGUE CUP

The first major cup to be decided is already at the quarter-final stage and there is definitely the chance for an underdog to pick up this cup and make history. Chelsea look set to beat Derby but you wouldn’t bet on anything in this league. In-form Newcastle and Bournemouth face out-of-form Tottenham and Liverpool giving both of them a chance of making it to Wembley. However, the team to watch are Southampton, who have a fantastic chance of winning this trophy and making it into Europe.

 

FA CUP

The FA Cup is still in it’s early stages and therefore difficult to call in terms of who is favourites for the trophy. The third round gets underway in January and everybody will be looking to avoid Chelsea and Man City, whilst this is also a good opportunity for Louis Van Gaal to get his hands on his first piece of silverware for United. Teams with little to play for in the league such as West Ham and Swansea will also be interesting ones to watch.

 

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

With just two more games to take place in the group stages, things are starting to shape-up nicely. Nobody seems to look past Real Madrid as they look a good bet to defend the title but Bayern Munich and Chelsea have come out really strongly in recent weeks and nobody will want to face them in the knockout stages. If you’re looking for an outsider with a strong chance, Dortmund have dominated group D and are definitely in with a shout for the trophy.

Top 5 Gifts from Challenge Trophies

Whether it’s a Christmas gift for a friend, or and end of year gift for your manager from all the team or maybe you fancy treating yourself, we have a great selection of glass and crystal gifts that can come particularly handy over the festive season with all that extra drinking!

Have a look at our top 5 below or browse the whole gifts range here.

 

tankard

 

  1. Crystal Bulb Wine Decanter

An essential for all wine enthusiasts, this crystallised decanter can be engraved with a personal message on the base plate to add to the personalisation of the gift and the elegant design looks great.

 

  1. Single Wine Glass

 

If you’re looking for a slightly less expensive gift, the wine glass offers a suitable alternative and will be sure to be used regularly. You can engrave a name, message or logo so it is suitable for any occasion.

 

  1. 1pt Glass Tankard in Presentation Case

 

If the recipient is more of a beer drinker, then this could be the gift for you. A great idea for retirements, or football manager gifts, the tankard comes in a stylish presentation case to add to the effect.

 

  1. Two Brandy Glasses

A great way to get a gift for two people in one, the pair of brandy glasses are simple yet stylish and can be personalised with a gift to make them extra special. A nice way for people to enjoy their tipple at the end of the night.

 

  1. Square Decanter Set with 2 Whiskey Glasses

One of our top of the range gifts, this is ideal gift to buy as a team for somebody who is extra special. The crystal decanter comes with two whiskey tumblers, all of which come on a wooden tray with brass handles, and is complete with an engraving plate for your message.

5 Unlikely Players to have a Champions League medal

The Champions League is back and in full swing this season, with the groups starting to take shape. As we look ahead to another exciting round of games this week, we’re reflecting on 5 players who you may be surprised to realise have won a Champions league medal.

Traore

 

  1. Roque Junior

Leeds fans will be most puzzled as to how Roque Junior won not only a Champions League medal, but also a World Cup medal. He won the European Cup with AC Milan in 2003 before his move to Elland Road, and it would be an understatement to say that he didn’t live up to the hype.

 

  1. David May

There’s been some huge names in Manchester United’s history, with David May being one of the few players that Old Trafford will not remember for anything in particular. However, he was an unused substitute as they won the final in 1999 and managed to join in celebrations with the trophy.

 

  1. Jonathan Greening

Yep that’s right, the player who is remembered for battling relegation with West Brom, and who was released from Nottingham Forest this summer, has actually won one of the most famous trophies in football. He was included in the matchday squad as United won the Champions League in 1999, and got a medal as a result.

 

  1. Benni McCarthy

Now retired after an underwhelming spell at West Ham, Benni McCarthy won a Champions League medal with Porto back in 2004. He was actually a regular starter in Mourinho’s Porto side but he only played 12 minutes in the final.

 

  1. Djimi Traore

Even Liverpool fans will admit that Djimi Traore wasn’t the most gifted of players, yet somehow he has a Champions League medal to their name. He managed to avoid any major mistakes in the final, which for him must surely means he deserved the medal!

Trophy Held As Hostage

In the world of trophies, stories of cups and trophies that have gone missing, been stolen and then recovered have been commonplace over the years.  However, a first for me was the story of the silver cup in New Zealand that was held as a hostage!!

The cup in question is the King Country Rugby Trophy which was won by Opus Taupo Sports who defeated Waitete to claim the prize in July this year.  In time-honoured rugby fashion, they said they had some ‘fun’ with the cup at their presentation event, only to realise a month later that it had gone missing.

They put out an appeal for help through their Facebook page and then soon received a new friend request from ‘KC Trophy’ with the following picture as the profile pic and the caption ‘I have been taken hostage, await further instructions for my safe return’!!

Rugby Trophy

The King Country Trophy is taken hostage by pranksters!!

Then followed a series of clues to the club, including ‘Waitete’s colours are white and blue, they have no trophy but neither do you’.  The captors fun continued with a picture of the trophy with some jump leads attached to it and the clue ‘I have left plenty of clues, but you don’t seem to be trying, we don’t want to see this trophy frying.  10,000 volts will be passing through, if you don’t do better with tomorrows clue’!!

The club still haven’t unraveled the mystery and no doubt the fun will continue for a little while yet.  This isn’t their only incident with this particular trophy, as they lost it in 2002 when it was snatched by streakers who ran off with it down the  main street!!  It was soon returned on that occasion and will presumably find its way home this time too!

 

Stylish New Trophies Launched for European Rugby

European Professional Club Rugby have launched two new European Club Competitions for 2014-15 and with it have created two beautiful new trophies.

The European Rugby Champions Cup will take over from the Heinieken Cup, which ran from 1995 and saw seven French winners, six English and six Irish, the most successful club in that time was Toulouse.  20 teams will compete in the new European Rugby Champions Cup and the Final will take place at Twickenham in May 2015.

The trophy itself was created by famous London silversmiths Thomas Lyte.  The silver cup is a unique five handle design, made from Sterling Silver and 18 carat gold.  It is 70cm high and weighs 13.5kg.  The star trophy has a gold star, representing Europe, at the centre of the design.  It also incorporates a coronet effect to reflect the ‘Kings’ of Europe.

Rugby Trophies

The new European Professional Club Rugby Trophies

The European Rugby Challenge Cup has been created as a second tier competition, similar to the Europa League in football.  It will also be competed for by 20 teams, being primarily the mid placed teams in the top European divisions, but also the Champions from some Second Divisions, which is quite a nice touch to recognise the emerging clubs. The Final of the inaugural competition will also take place at Twickenham, the day before the Champions Cup Final.

This trophy is 60cm high and weighs 10kg.  It has a Sterling Silver rugby ball held by silver rods topped with the stars of Europe.  It’s a striking design but at Challenge Trophies we feel that it’s too close in design to American Footballs prestigious Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Nevertheless, we feel these two trophies will become the iconic rugby trophies across Europe and maybe the world.  Recent history has shown us that new trophy design has overshadowed heritage.  Think of the iconic English Premier League Trophy compared  to its predecessor the Football League Trophy.  These two new trophies will soon cement their place in the minds of sports fans.

Trophy Design Chosen for QE Prize for Engineering

Euan Fairholm, an engineering student from Edinburgh has won the competition to design the trophy for the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

Following a Facebook vote, his unique design called ‘The Golden Crown’ will be made into a finished award and will be presented by Her Majesty The Queen to the winner of the 2015 QE Prize.

Trophy

The Golden Crown Trophy – 2015 QE Prize Design Winner

The judging panel was chaired by Ian Blatchford, director of the Science Museum who said “We felt that his work illustrates our dependence on engineering and technology, and demonstrates the fact that modern engineering builds on the work of the past. His use of a crown in his design recognizes this as The Queen’s Prize. He has produced a trophy that represents all that the Queen Elizabeth Prize stands for. We look forward to seeing the final trophy being presented to next year’s QEPrize winner”.

The winner of this bespoke award will be announced early next year.

Phil Taylor Looks for his 12th Title: Who Can Stop Him?

As we go into the 2nd round of the World Grand Prix Darts, we take a look at Phil Taylors biggest challengers as he looks to win the darts trophy for a 12th time.

 

Phil Taylor

 

  1. Raymond van Barneveld

Age:  47

Best Performance in World Grand Prix:  Runner Up (2008, 2009)

The Dutchman won the Premier League this year and whilst he lost to Ian White in a European event recently, he put up a strong fight, and could be one to watch in this event.

 

  1. Adrian Lewis

Age:  29

Best Performance in World Grand Prix:  Runner Up (2010)

He’s had a bit of a hit-and-miss season, but if the right Adrian Lewis comes out, then he will be a force that’s hard to match. An exciting player that is unlikely to win the event, but should be involved in the later stages.

 

  1. Gary Anderson

Age:  43

Best Performance in World Grand Prix:  Quarter Finals (2010, 2013)

A dark-horse to win the competition, Anderson is playing some of the best darts of his career at the moment, and he is loving it. He’s renowned for missing doubles so this may be his downfall, but he is certainly in with a shout thanks to his fantastic scoring rate of late.

 

  1. Michael van Gerwen

Age:  25

Best Performance in World Grand Prix:  Winner (2012)

The fact that he is the current World Champion is enough to show why he is almost certain to do well in the competition. He has been slightly erratic this year, but he is certainly entertaining and will provide strong competition for the Power Taylor if he wants to win that trophy.

Badminton Given The Sky Sports Treatment

Badminton is the latest sport to be given the Sky Sports viewer-friendly treatment, and arrived on our screens in the shape of The National Badminton League last night.

Sky are excellent at reformatting a sport to make it more appealing to the general public.  The positives for the sport and it’s players are an injection of much needed cash and increased awareness, which will hopefully create more aspiring newcomers.  In the past they’ve revolutionised darts, which is a hugely popular TV sport, and they also were instrumental in transforming cricket’s reputation for meandering matches to the crash, bang, wallop entertainment of Twenty20.

So, they’ve now turned their attention to Badminton, and have constructed a league of 6 franchises, and a new format which includes Powerplay points, Time-Out’s, Tiebreaks and Substitutions.  Having watched some Badminton on the first night it captured my attention by being a quick and skilful sport.  The format’s good, there’s a team element which means you always attach yourself to one side or another, and it all moves along at a good pace.

Badminton Trophies

Sky Sports launch the National Badminton League

It has also attracted the big names from English badminton and some from overseas.  England’s  highest ranking mens player Rajiv Ouseph plays for Team Derby, and the highest ranking woman Sarah Walker plays for the Birmingham Lions.  I’ve no doubt that their main focus for now will be the National Championships, the Europeans and the World Champioinships, but I can see the National Badminton League quickly establishing itself as an important title.

At Challenge Trophies we naturally have an interest in the trophy that will be created for this event.  There isn’t an iconic badminton trophy that is widely known, but when Sky Sports are involved they normally create something eye-catching.  We’ll await the conclusion in April 2015 to find out.

The next round of matches will be shown on Sky Sports on 3rd November.