Ice and Fire Sport

Ice and Fire Sport and the Medieval Age

With the popularity of Ice and Fire or “Game of Thrones” as it is popularly known on TV, a fantasy series based in the land of Westeros.  An interesting mix of medieval, Viking, fantasy and more which can be related back to a few different eras that we can compare to life as we once knew it on planet Earth.  Wondering just what the guys wore during battle and during their sports, how they were made, and the costs of it all got me to do a little digging.

Jousting was the main sport and other games that were prestigious were hunting, fighting, hawking or sword play and this all happened during the medieval age on our planet and so to this era we go.


Mock battles and sports were the great sport of early medieval times and these

English: Rüstkammer, Dresden - plate armour. F...
English: Rüstkammer, Dresden – plate armour. France, before 1588 Deutsch: Französische Plattenrüstung, Dresden Rüstkammer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

were fist fought by knights wearing boiled leather or a quilted gambeson underneath a mail shirt (hauberk).

At this time a mail shirt made of 25,000 rings was the equivalent of the entire income of a good sized village! This of course was way beyond the financial means of an ordinary man in the street. In addition a sword was required and these took nearly 200 man hours of labour to produce in the early 1100’s.  Lances were also the thing of the day and eventually had a specially fitted holster, for want of a better word, which was built into a saddle to house it.  All of the above where then placed on top of a horse which at that time would have cost around a £100, which when the average yearly income was around £40, cost a pretty whack (let’s compare it to the equivalent of purchasing a Ferrari today). The horse being such a huge investment was protected by chain mail itself and had its own set of armour.


In early medieval times open faced helmets were used and these later evolved into a closed steel helmet that was tied at the back with laces.  So to be able to identify the jousters, heraldry was added to the outfit so the sportsman could be identified.  In later times they were replaced by smaller head gear which sported visors.

One weakness of chain mail is that it did not stop a lance and when lanced or wounded the mail could get caught in the wounds and cause complications. Then from around 1286 plated armour began to be worn underneath the chain mail as a solution.

The 13th Century saw further improvements in the horses armour, steel gloves (gauntlets) and rounded shields made of a combination of wood and steel to better deflect blows.

As jousting developed more rules were brought in and the choices of weapons were restricted and the shield became the target for your opponent.  The “vamplate” was developed on lances (a protective plate around the handhold of the lance to protect the hand.) The lances were now made from Applewood or Ash (wood) and had blunt tips, which were made for sport instead of war.  Saddles were made higher and offered leg protection. Plate covered leather was replaced with full plate armour and badges replaced surcoats.


Supplies of Iron grew rapidly in the 14th Century due to bellows being used with water generated power, allowing for the generation of much higher heat temperatures. Swords as a result became stiffer and sharper and armour got lighter and stronger and more able to withstand impacts. Which reminds me of Jaimes sword, beautifully crafted and given to him as a gift from his father, Tywin Lannister in the epic Ice and Fire fantasy novels.

There were two main centres for armour in the day and they were Milan and Augsburg. In Milan they specialised in smoother armour suited to repelling lances and swords. In Augsburg a more rippled finished armour was produced and this armour was intended to deflect arrows and bolts.

As production increased it became possible to rent a suit of armour or even purchase a second hand one.

By the mid-15th C a highly sought after “white Armour” was being produced. This armour had a weight of just 36kg, and when wearing this baby there was no question of not being able to rise again when knocked to the ground.


Wealthy knights imported valuable birds and had fine and expensive hawking gloves made from the leather of a particular kind of sheep, the Mouflon. The best of these skins came from Cordoba, Spain, and in England makers of these gloves took the name of “Cordwainers”.  Hawks were so valuable that from 1360 that the theft of a hawk was punishable by death.


Interestingly other sports described that were enjoyed by knights were shooting with bows and arrows, rock throwing, hurling the lance, dice (gambling?) and a huge variety of other games.


Although there is not much recorded history about the various other winter sports one “William FItstephen” recorded sledging way back in 1175, sliding and curling on ice skates made of bone. Skates such as these have since been found in the London sewers. In Finland skis over 2 meters in length have been found dating back to 2000BC and a sledge dating back to 6500BC.


Well, if you have ever seen any pictures of shoes from the middle ages you will know that they had extremely long toes and these even curled upward! Not great for playing or participating in any kind of sport. These shoes became known as Cracow’s (in the UK) and Poulaines (in France) and reached such ridiculous lengths that laws was brought in to limit the length. Cracow’s had no heel and the toes reached up to 60cm in length can you imagine playing a game of football in a pair of these?

It is unlikely that ordinary people had special clothing for playing sport.  Even after the advent of the spinning wheel in the 14th C, clothing was hard to come by.  It was not often that people (commoners) had more than one set of clothing. The same goes for shoes and the custom of sons inheriting footwear from their fathers is reinforced by the sayings “Following in his father’s footsteps” and “filling his boots” all exist from these days.

Clothing for medieval commoners was plain and very simple stuff. The peasant or commoner wore a tight tunic that was short and belted with rope or leather. He might also wear short pants or trousers made of wool and a felt hat (this is the only type of hat he was allowed to wear).


The famous game of ball lived in those days and the ball was made from a cow or pigs bladder and stuffed with sad, straw or chalk and roughly stitched together. A pigs head would often suffice too!

In the 16thC a shoemaker presented the Drapers Company with a new ball which was worth three shillings and four pence for their Shrove Tuesday match, which at the price in the day suggests a top quality item.

It is clear that sport over the years has certainly had its costs and also the gear.

Looking at the cost of jousting and the safety developments in jousting way back then,  I could not help but compare how it reminded me of the huge costs, safety rules and adjustments that have been made in the modern sport of F1 racing sport over the last years, often a trail of Ice and Fire Sport itself and which is also the most expensive sport in the world today!

It is clear that nothing has changed over the centuries and that man will always strive to create both gear and clothing that will give him the edge in his preferred sport.

It all boils down to the same thing , the World of Ice and Fire Sport and the Medieval Ages all required huge sums of money to make things happen. Fantasy or reality, sport and exciting sport adventures in the history of mankind on Earth or in Westeros!

Formula One Grand Prix History

Formula One’s Grand Prix history (briefly known previously as Formula A), Grand Prix History can trace its roots back to the earliest days of motor racing, with the first Grand Prix’s being held from 1906 and its emergence from the up-beat European racing scene in-between WW1 and WW2.

English: "The famous French automobilist ...
English: “The famous French automobilist [Sisz] in his racing machine, after winning the grand prize for the contest over the Sarthe Circuit.” The contest referred to is the 1906 French Grand Prix. Sisz is on the left in the photo, and his riding mechanic M. Martaud is on the right. The car would not appear to be his race winning Renault. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In History 1906 was to be the year of the first Grand Prix. This was a two day event covering 12 laps of a 65 mile triangular course near Le Mans in the sparsely populated Sarthe region (departement). To avoid having to slow down through towns, a temporary wooden road was laid past the village of St Calais along which the drivers could speed at 90mph. In place of the old nation versus nation scenario, this was a maker versus maker race, a 1000kg limit was retained as a part of the emerging rules of racing and only the driver and the mechanic were allowed to make repairs. Detachable wheels were disallowed so damaged tyres had to be slashed off and depots were set up close to the spectator stands so that all could view the crews fetching oil, fuel and water for engines that had up to an 18 liter capacity. This the first grand prix was run over 770 miles. At the last minute it was decided the race would be run in an anti-clockwise direction in grand old roman style. It was won by Ferenc Szisz in a 13 liter Renault in blazing heat with an average speed of 63mph.

Brooklands was opened in 1907 as a response to the ban on road racing in Britain and the 20 mph speed limit. Brooklands was a purpose built course constructed on swampy forest grounds outside Weybridge. It took 700 men, 9 months to construct and cost 150,000 pounds. It was laid out on the model of a horse racing track and with horse racing rules put in place. It was a 2.75 mile course and had a 30 meter wide banked track that reached 8 meters in height. Brooklands was more of a speed track than an endurance track.  In 1907 Captain

Edge set out to break the 24-hour distance record at Brooklands. Medical opinion was divided and betting as to whether he would have a heart attack or go mad in the attempt. Edge ringed the course with lanterns and clocked up 1,581 miles. A French equivalent of Brooklands were roads like Arpajon near Paris, where a stretch of dirt highway was wet down to test cars at speeds of well over 100 mph.

The 1907 Grand Prix was run outside of Dieppe in France, it was run over the period of a day, the circuit was 47 miles long and was 10 laps long. Speeds of over 100 mph were seen here. It was won by Fiat.

In 1908 the Grand Prix was again run over the Dieppe course. The depots were put in front of the pits and sunk into the ground so as not to disturb anybody’s views. Mercedes won. Fed up by being outclassed by foreigners, 17 companies decided to abandon Grand Prix racing in a boycott that lasted until 1911.

By 1911 the US had developed the Indianapolis circuit where 300,000 people watched the first 200 lap race.


Grand Prix racing resumed in 1912, the year which marked the coming of the age of the petrol motor and the production of the first completely modern engine. This engine was the creation of Ernest Henry a Swiss engineer working for Peugeot. Henry devised the first multi-valve engine with four per cylinder. Enlarged from three cylinder to seven for racing in Grand Prix’s, Henry won the 1912 French Grand Prix, beating monsters nearly twice their size. Henry was so far ahead of the game that it would be 1983 before standard production cars such as corolla and civic caught up

Henry being more pre occupied with reliability rather than speed and probably never realised just how good his engine was, other manufacturers caught on quickly and the three liter, fast revving Sunbeams managed to finish third, fourth and fifth overall. Fiat developed a new push rod system and the Hispano Suiza developed the supercharger which pushed more air into the engine. At the same time the American Cadillac developed the electric starter motor which eliminated the need for a car to be started by two people.

With a continued trend to shorter circuits and increased laps the 1913 Grand Prix took place near Amiens with a 29 lap and 19 mile circuit. The race was run clockwise, with the stands being on the outside and the pits on the inside which were serviced by a loop road and tunnel for safety of access. As the racing formula became more complex, cars now had to comply with a fuel limit and a maximum weight of 800 kilos. Henrys engines won at both Amiens and Indianapolis and were back in the following years boasting streamlining and four wheel brake systems.

In the last year of racing pre WW1 the Grand Prix moved to Lyon, where the circuit boasted Le Piege de la Mort (the death trap). The latest rules were an engine size limit of 4,5 liters. Mercedes used a simplified, faster revving version of Henrys car which was supercharged to reach 116 mph. Mercedes also introduced team tactics into the sport, sacrificing a car to wear down George Boillots Peugeot.

The effects of WW1 on European motor manufacturers were a huge expansion in production capacity as well as improvements in metallurgy and design as rival engineers such as Mercedes and Rolls-Royce developed lighter, faster revving, supercharged, multi cylinder engines for use in planes. For the USA the 1914-1918 war had been the 1917-1918 war, and while the French, British and Germans were fighting, American motorsport had developed in its own way, they developed a 3–cubic inch capacity formula and improved on the French designed cars which had won the 1914 Indy 500.

The first post-war race, the 1919 Targa Florio was typically demanding and was won by George Baillots brother Andre, who cried, “cest pour le France” and collapsed after the rigors of the race in which he had shot off the wolf infested, rutted mountain tracks at least six times.

Normal Grand Prix racing resumed in 1921 with a three liter maximum capacity and an 800 kilogram minimum weight. This era was dominated by the US Dusenbergs and their “straight eight” engines. They triumphed is a series of European races including the Big one, The Le Mans Grand Prix. (the 24 hour race did not start until 1923).

Plans for a Formula One drivers’ championship were discussed in the late 1930s but were shelved again with the beginning of World War 2.

The WW2 ended on the 15th August 1945 and motor racing returned the following month with a Coupe des Prisonniers held in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris. with much of Europe in ruins motor racing was not a high priority. Most cars had not raced in years. Two years later there were still only four Grand Prix, the Swiss, Belgian, Italian and the French, but by this time the FIA had re adopted the 1941 planned formula; 4,5 liters maximum or 1,5 liters supercharged. This formula was intended to encourage as many cars to take to the track as possible, big or small.

While the supercharged Alfas dominated Europe the Argentinians, not as affected by the WW had specialised in its own epic race of a thousand miles called the turismo carretaria. The greatest popular star in these grueling races was 1940 champion Juan Fangio, legendary for his cool head. In 1948 the Argentinian government backed Fangio to compete in Europe in which Fangios own co-driver died in a crash. The following year armed with a Maserati, Fangio took on and won in front of 300.000 fans .

In Europe, the huge new motor racing presence was Ferrari, who had begun making its own cars after Alfa shifted to voiturette racing in 1938.

Enzo Ferraris team made their first car in 1940, but were banned from using his name, so the 8 cylinder 1,500cc motor was called the Tipo 815. Three years later they moved their production to Maranello near Ferraris hometown of Modena, this site was bombed the following year. By 1947 a 1,5 liter V12 Ferrari had appeared. Followed the following year by a supercharged version. 1948 is the year which also marked the year in which Michelin introduced radial tyres and Dunlop created the new lighter tubeless tyres.

In 1947 the decision was made to launch the drivers’ championship. It took until 1950 for the details to be hammered out and in May 1950 the first world championship race was held at Silverstone – in England, where concrete filled oil cans where decked with flowers. The result was a one-two-three victory for the gas guzzling 1,5 miles per gallon Alfas.

The first F1 race had taken place a month earlier in Pau.

Only seven of the twenty odd Formula One races that season counted towards the title but the championship was up and running.

The exciting world of F1 racing had begun.






The Middle Ages and Money In Sport

The Middle Ages and Money in Sport

Back in the days of old when knights were both hard-headed and practical

In medieval Britain the biggest money spinner was the tournament.

A knight on his horse
A knight on his horse

This could be viewed as the most professional sport of all times as it was entirely focussed on collecting booty and ransoms.

With the set up costs of a knight’s kit which was armour, arms and a horse costing more than a knight’s yearly income. A tournament could make or break you.

Later as the price of armour and horses went as high as £100, the risk of losing everything in a tournament became too great and ransoms and formal prizes of cash and plate replaced straightforward booty.

One of the Churches many objections to the sport was that it encouraged the sin of greed.

Money to be made in tournaments

Sports Betting today

Making money was formalised by Richard the Lionheart in Britain who in 1194 was making money in a big way from the sport. The Kings sources of income included ten marks from the five licensed grounds each time they held a tournament. In addition there were entry fees which were graded ranging from 20 marks for an Earl down to 2 marks for a landless knight. On top of this were fines for any non-payment and fees for pardons for any fouls in the field.

Sponsorship and funding

Just like sponsorship today, tournament teams were funded for the prestige they brought to their sponsors.  Keeping and maintaining a team of some 200 knights in the field was a hugely expensive business and was limited to nobility and kings with plenty of cash to burn.

Young Henry the eldest son of Henry II, was famous for his spending on tournaments, he met the daily bills and ransoms of a small army of knights, plus their squires, heralds and other personage. At the peak of his spending it was costing him £200 a day, which was, in those days, the equivalent of a good annual income of a nobleman.

As well as wages and prizes, expenses could also include transfer fees for star performing knights. When William the Marshall an English knight moved to the team of William of Flanders, he moved for a huge fee of one quarter of the rents of the port of St Omer!

Such big spending must have been great for the traders of the areas providing that the tournaments competitors didn’t trash the town, which they managed to do to Boston in 1288.

Profit Sharing and Alliances

The knights who competed in these early tournaments often used professional strategies that had more to do with making money and winning than honour and nobility. In 1170 William the Marshall entered into a profit sharing deal with Roger de Jouy in which they agreed to spilt the 103 ransoms they earned over the year.

Cost Cutting tactics

Cost cutting tactics were done by reducing the amount of the ransom you demanded to encourage a defeated knight to surrender to you as opposed to anther rival. You could have alternatively allow a captured knight to go out and fight again to earn his ransom fee.  In addition to ransoms there were formal prizes on offer for the best performance.

Political Appointments

There were valuable political appointments to be had for the most successful fighters, and William   went about as far as any man could, becoming the regent of England after King Johns death.

Horses – A Knights Mount

After a successful tournament there would be money to spend and the Friday horse market at Smithfield outside the City of London became the place to sell off captured horses, or to eye and try out a replacement or upgrade of your existing mount.
It is here that one of the first recorded races for money happened. King Richard challenged three knights to race over three miles for a purse of gold.

The new sport of Jousting

Jousting - a sport of the middle ages
Jousting – a sport of the middle ages

Even without the expense of maintaining a large unofficial army, Edward III was spending a £100 a week. One of the big incentives would have been the huge prizes on offer and there are references to diamonds being handed out to the winners of Jousts.

Gambling and Betting in Medieval times.

In the Middle Ages betting was extremely popular, especially after the Crusaders had returned from the Holy Land, and where, like the Homeric Greeks at the siege of Troy, they had kept themselves occupied during the long campaign with gambling and gaming.

In response to the violence and trouble that betting could cause, Richard I legislated to limit the stakes and restrict gambling to nobles. This was the beginning of 800 years allowing the wealthy to have their fun  while the working class were restricted.
In the following century the Council of Worcester tried to stop the clergy from gambling and further laws were introduced by Richard II in 1388.

Ancient Sport as a business, how was it done?

Ancient Sport as a Business.

Ancient Sport, Business, Money and Betting 

Since time began there have always been ways of making money out of sport, and most of these have

English: Commemorative stamp of Greece, The Fi...
English: Commemorative stamp of Greece, The First Olympic Games (1896), 2 lepta. Русский: Марка Греции. Первые Олимпийские игры, 1896, 2 лепты (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

been around since the very earliest times.

For organisers of games and contests there is money to be made from the selling of food, drink and souvenirs to the assembled fans or selling others the rights to do so.

For the Athletes there is appearance money, wages, prizes, sponsorship, transfer fees and bribes.

Coaches, agents, managers and sport doctors all make a living from the athletes.

Judges and officials can earn an income from wages, gifts and bribes and of course everybody hopes to profit further by betting on the results.

Betting has always been the most common way to make money from sport and various games and has been around since the earliest years in recorded history.

For Ancient Egyptians it all began when Mercury gambled with the moon and won an extra 5 days to add to the then existing 360 day calendar. In addition Egyptians gambled on board games like senat and tau as well as he more familiar games (to us) which were dice and draughts.

For Ancient Eurasians whose sporting history dates back to about 4500 BC and started amongst the nomadic tribesmen of Eurasia (who it is believed were the first to have first domesticated the horse) and to have also started racing them.

Ancient Indians played dice and bet on chariot racing.

In Arabia, which did not have chariots, horses were tethered far from a water hole in the baking heat and a lengthy distance from the nearest water hole and bets were laid on which horse would arrive first when they were eventually released.

Mesoamericans bet on ball games and Eskimos, Greeks, Africans and Romans all played various versions of roulette using various shields or wheels.

As the bible shows Hebrews were fond of drawing lots.

What about ancient prizes? Even before the Greeks, Egyptians competed for valuable items and Mycenaean’s won brides, yes, even princesses, in foot races!

Greeks Homer, revered as the greatest of Greek Epic Poets and who lived around 8 BC, listed prizes of valuable metal kettles and tripods, horses, oxen, mules and yes, more brides.

Let’s take a deeper look at ancient Greek Sport and how it was funded and money was made.

Ancient Greek Sport

An artist's impression of ancient Olympia
An artist’s impression of ancient Olympia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of today’s big sporting money-makers were already in place at the ancient Olympic Games.

The main source of business funding for the games were sponsors, who were called “angonothytes”, who paid for prizes and the games costs and were rewarded with great power and prestige as a result.

A major uncertainty about the ancient Olympics is whether gate money was charged, although this seems very possible as Greeks charged entrance fees for their theatre. Even if this did not happen there was lots of money to be made from the soothsayers, merchants, artisans and food and drink sellers who arrived at Olympia to sell the 45,000 spectators their goods.

Historian Lance Rancier reckons that there was a thriving sex industry to, which might go a long way to explain why married women were so unwelcome. To substantiate this claim, first century writer Dio Chrysostom tells us that there were prostitutes at other games.

As for the athletes they needed money to pay for coaches, doctors and the use of a gymnasium during long periods of training.

 There are references by writers of the time such as Philostratos to athletes being deeply in debt to their trainers who were to manipulate them to fix results. The late arrival of one Olympian contestant was blamed on a travel hold up but was later found to be him having to wait to collect his winnings from an earlier game.

In the more capital intensive sports such as chariot racing, horses and drivers had to be paid for and the richest men and women of Greece entered the sport for the name of fame and glory. Plutarch says that the 5th Century Princess Kyniska of Sparta entered and won the chariot races simply to prove that big money always triumphed. To compete with such wealth some city states clubbed together to fund entries, such as when the Public chariot of the Argives won in 472 BC.

The Olympics were and still are unusual in the fact that they do not offer cash prizes or appearance money, but there were plenty of perks to be had for winners, including a seat in the Olympic banquet and dining hall known as the Prytaneion. In addition most competitors on returning victorious could expect a handsome pay-out from their home city. These cash free ‘sacred’ games depended on the cities willingness to cough up. In Athens the ruler Solon famously offered 500 drachmae, which was the equivalent of 500 sheep or 10 times the average annual wage for an Olympic win and only 100 at the Isthmian games. Other benefits included personal prestige, statues built and Odes written in your honour, lucrative political appointments, free meals and theatre tickets. (In 1896 when the Greek runner Spyridion Louis won the marathon at the first ever modern Olympics, he was showered with gifts which included shoes, wine, free meals, shaves and a property.) In any case, once a prestigious Olympic victory title was in the bag, there would be plenty of appearance money from other games wanting to attract the big winner’s names. There is record of a whopping 30,000 drachmae, 100 times a soldier’s annual salary being paid to an Olympian champion to attend a local contest.

At most non-sacred games prizes were on offer in the form of silver that slaves dug out of the ground or in olive oil, which was as good as silver as it was traded all over the Mediterranean. A typical prize of 40-50 large jars of olive oil would be enough to buy you a new home virtually anywhere. From about 566 BC the Panathenaic games paid out a full 100 jars. How much oil or silver you won depended on which event you had won. Records from the city of Aphrodisias show that the big wins were from the dangerous sports with 2,000 denarii going to wrestling winners and 3,000 denarii for Pankration (a blend of boxing and wrestling but with hardly any rules).

As for tracks events it was then as it is now for sprinting and worth 1,250 denarii. The worst paying sports were Pentathlon and a race in armour offering 500 denarii each.

Hoplitodromos (armoured race); on the right so...
Hoplitodromos (armoured race); on the right some tripods as winning prizes. Side A of an Attic black-figure neck-amphora, ca. 550 BC. From Vulci. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another source of income for athletes was transfer fees; although we don’t know how much they were we know they existed. In the 5th century BC Heiron or Syracreuse lured Astylos of Kroton, three time winner of the stade (the race, known as the stade, was about 192 metres (210 yards) long) to compete for him while the Cretans hired athletes and Ephesus returned the favour by acquiring a Cretan long distance runner.

Bribes were another source of income. In 388 BC one Eupolis of Thessaly was accused of bribing three rivals in the boxing, including the ex-champion Phormion, and in 332 BC the Athenian Kallipos was caught bribing his opponent in the pentathlon. Quite how extensive bribing was in throughout this era we will never know.

Backhanders to judges happened as well, in its later years assured wins at the Isthmian games were said to be yours for the sum of 3,000 denarii, although the most undisguised bribery happened in the Olympic Games themselves. In AD 67 the Emperor Nero, known as a hard man to refuse bribe the Olympic judges with 250,000 denarii, worth tens of millions of pounds today, to postpone the games and allow him to compete in a special ten horse chariot race. Nero was judged to have won even though he crashed and did not even finish the race!

There are not many direct mentions of betting on results perhaps because it was so common. Six times Olympic champion Milo of Croton was fond of a bet (especially on his own capabilities for alcohol consumption). The writer Nonnus refers to frequent betting and professional fouls in chariot racing around AD 400.

Hmmmm, it has been interesting to see that most of the money making concepts we have today were already in full swing all these eons ago.


AFCON 2013 – the Hunky and the Sexy

Titan Bet Sportsbook


This is our list of  the AFCON 2013 Top 10 the hunky and sexy Afcon players who will be performing on our soccer fields and TV screens.

In no particular order, the players are:

South Africa: Lehlohonolo Majoro – The 26-year-old striker plays for Kaizer Chiefs and will be playing for Bafana Bafana at AFCON 2013.

Lehlohonolo Majoro
Lehlohonolo Majoro

Zambia: Christopher Katongo – At 30, Chris is at the top of his game as captain of the Chipolopolo and plays for Chinese Super League club Henan Construction FC as a striker.Ghana: Adam Larsen – Born in Norway to a Norwegian mother and Ghanaian father. This Adonis is a goalkeeper for Norwegian side Strømsgodset.

Mali: Seydou Keita – The 33-year-old captains the AFCON 2013 Mali team.

Nigeria: Obi Mikel – Obi plays top-flight soccer in England for defending Uefa Champions League champions Chelsea. He is certainly going to turn heads at the AFCON tournament.Dalian Aerbin FC in the Chinese Super League.

Morocco: Oussama Assaidi – The baby-faced Dutch-Morrocan footballer plays for Liverpool in the English top flight. At 24 years he will be in the Moroccan team for years to come.

Ivory Coast: Yaya Touré – The reigning African Player of the Year, Touré is one of the brightest soccer stars on the continent, and he’s easy on the eye to … a top contender!

Ethiopia: Addis Hintsa – The 26-year-old is one of the better looking footballers in the AFCON 2013 team.

Cape Verde: Ryan Mendes. Mendes plays club football in France and the 23-year-old will start in tomorrow’s AFCON 2013 match against South Africa.

Togo: Emmanuel Adebayor – He plays top flight soccer in England for Tottenham Hotspur. Adebayor is a firm favourite of male fans. He is a favourite of female fans too.


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Horse Racing Legend – Red Rum and Ginger McCain – this is their story.

Red Rum and Ginger McCain
Red Rum and Ginger McCain – Horse Racing legends

Red Rum and Ginger McCain, a horse racing legend and this is their story.

A horse and his trainer, with fiery names and the colouring and personalities to match, this duo forged a blazing trail through the world of horse racing that is unmatched to this day.

Red Rum was born on the 3rd May 1965. His dam was Mared, who was known to be slightly moggy and his Sire was Quorum.  Red Rum, a bay gelding was of average size and he was bred to be a one-mile sprinter.

Ginger McCain was born on the 21st September 1930. Ginger was a second-hand car dealer and taxi driver that had a small stable outfit at the back of his second-hand car lot in Southport. He famously trained his horses on the extensive sands of Southport beach.Red Rum at the Grand National

The Grand National at Aintree, Liverpool, England is a world-famous steeplechase race and has been referred to as “the ultimate test of a horse’s courage”.

Red Rum started his career running in cheap races as a sprinter and was passed from training yard to training yard until he was eventually bought by Ginger McCain for owner Noel La Mare for 6000 Guineas at the Doncaster August sales in 1972.

On offloading Red Rum, Ginger noticed when he trotted the horse that he seemed lame. Red Rum had developed a debilitating bone disease called pedal osteitis.  Luck and fate stepped in here as Red Rum had arrived at perhaps the only training stable in the country where training took place on a beach. Ginger as a young lad had noticed the beneficial effects that the water had on the shrimper’s horses.

Red Rum on the Southport Beach
Red Rum on the Southport Beach

Ginger put Red Rum into the icy salt waters of the Irish Sea, these waters worked their therapeutic magic and miraculously Red Rum came trotting out healed and sound. Red Rum went on to win his first five races for Ginger and become a horse racing legend.

Red Rum a now famous horse ran into the history books and became a champion and celebrity when he achieved the un-matched and historic treble win, winning the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977 and in the two years in-between namely 1975 and 1976 he came second  both times. Red Rum was to run again in the 1978 Grand National but was withdrawn a day before this epic event as he had developed a hairline fracture in his leg. Red Rum was retired from racing and the bay gelding who was placed in 52 of his 100 races embarked on his second career as a travelling celebrity.

Red Rum was voted sporting personality of the year in 1977, he appeared on TV, he switched on the Blackpool lights, opened pubs and supermarkets and lead the Grand National parade for many more years.  Red Rum became a limited company and his likeness graced playing cards, mugs, posters, models, paintings and puzzles. Several books have been written about Red Rum by his trainer, sculptor, jockeys and also author Ivor Herbert. In 1975, a song entitled “Red Rum” was issued as a tribute to him by a group named Chaser. A children’s story about Red Rum’s life was written by Christine Pemberton. In 2010, the name of the Aintree racecourse bar, originally called “The Sefton” was changed to “The Red Rum”.

Red Rums grave on the Aintree Race Track in Liverpool
Red Rums grave on the Aintree Race Track in Liverpool

Red Rum died at the age of 30 on the 18th October 1995. His death made the front pages of the national newspapers. Red Rum is buried at the winning post of Aintree racecourse with his head facing the winning post.  The epitaph on his grave reads … “Respect this place, this hallowed ground, a legend here, his rest has found, his feet would fly our spirits soar he earned our love for evermore”

Red Rum the horse racing legend and arguably one of the most famous horses in the world, has statues both at Aintree Racecourse and in Southport

Ginger famously said “Everyone called me a one-horse trainer but it never bothered me. I just used to laugh and say ‘yeah, but what a bloody good job I made of the one I had’.”

Memorial to Red Rum the horse racing legend
Memorial to Red Rum the Horse Racing Legend

Ginger has also said of Red Rum “He had a charisma all of his own. He loved people and people loved him. The old lad was magic”.

The colourful and out-spoken racehorse trainer, Ginger McCain won the Grand National one more time at the age of 73  with Amberleigh House in 2004. After the race he quietly made his way over to the grave of his beloved Red Rum, triple National winner, buried alongside the winning post.
He later joked that Rummy, who had died nine years earlier, had spoken to him about his latest win.
He quipped “Red Rum said to me ‘let him win it twice more and he might be nearly as good as me’ “.

McCain has said “I’m no legend, I was associated with a horse who was a legend”

On the 19th September 2011, the trainer most associated with Aintree Racecourse, Ginger McCain, died peacefully at his home, two days short of his 81st birthday.

A bronze bust of Ginger McCain has since been made and erected at the Aintree Racecourse.

Ginger and Red Rum
Ginger and Red Rum

Red Rum and Ginger, masters of the Grand National and legends in the world of horse racing are finally re-united, this feisty pair are commemorated on the grounds they both loved and lived for most. They will live on in the record books of history forever.

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