Port Vale’s Tom Pope: My favourite sporting events – can you beat these?


What are your favourite sporting events? I thought I’d have a look this week at some of mine, events I would love to have had tickets for.

I haven’t included football, so see if you agree with my selections…….

BOXING WORLD TITLE FIGHT

I love boxing. If there were a guaranteed a fight every year, where, like in other sports, the best was going to fight against the best, then I would want tickets for that.

So, if I were to choose one over the last 12 months it would have to be Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury in Las Vegas.

There’s also a thing about going abroad to follow a fighter. Ricky Hatton used to take 15,000 or 20,000 to Vegas. It’s like going to a football away game abroad, but going to watch one of your heroes box for a world title.

That’s something I have always wanted to do. I was only about 19 or 20 when Ricky Hatton was fighting on the big stage, but he was my favourite growing up.

GOLF – THE OPEN

I love my golf but I’ve never actually been to the Open because it is traditionally in July when we are back in pre-season training.

Believe it or not, there aren’t all that many sports I like watching. I enjoy participating in a few, like table tennis, but I wouldn’t go to the table tennis championships…

I’m not one of those people that can just sit and watch – I don’t even like watching football half the time!

But I really enjoy watching boxing and golf.

With golf, I love it because I appreciate how difficult it is. One of my good mates is Jason Timmis who has played on the Euro Pro Tour. I will play with him and he’ll shoot eight or nine under par.

To me, he is like Rory McIlroy. I just stand there and think how amazing is he!

PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND – JULY 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot on the 18th during the second round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 19, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

But he can find it hard on the Euro Pro Tour, and after that you go up to the Challenge Tour and after that the European Tour. It just makes you appreciate how good the top players are.

Anybody who plays will tell you it is the most frustrating sport in the world, and you never play the same twice in a row. You can play out of your skin one day, then go the next and have an absolutely torrid time. You do appreciate it when you know how tough it is.

So, it’s the Open for me – although I wouldn’t say no to going to the Masters either!

HORSE RACING – CHELTENHAM

I have actually been to this one. I have been to the Gold Cup but that’s on a Friday so it’s difficult to go with a football team when you have a game on a Saturday! I was injured one year so went, but  usually we go on a Tuesday or Wednesday, whatever day we are off training.

Mind you, I must be getting older because I’m happy just watching it on the TV. I have been seven or eight times but it gets to the point where you would rather watch it in the local or at home rather than being there with people barging into me or shouting and bawling!

I have been a few times with Vale and also Rotherham and Bury so it is something quite a few football clubs do.

You have to be a brave person to be a jockey, certainly over the jumps when you see some of the injuries they can get.

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND – MARCH 13: Paul Townend riding Al Boum Photo wins the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 13, 2020 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

SNOOKER – WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

I do like the World Championships and really enjoy watching Ronnie O’Sullivan. Players are a lot more aggressive in the way they play now – but years ago watching people like Steve Davis or Peter Ebdon used to drive me mad!

But it’s different watching Judd Trump or especially Ronnie O’Sullivan. He’s a real character as well as well as a legend of that sport.

He’s just a genius. He does some controversial things – like not going for a 147 because the prize money wasn’t enough. But there is no doubting he is probably the best player who has ever played the game.

I would like to see him just so I could say I have done it. You watch tapes now of ‘Hurricane’ Higgins play and, in 20 or 30 years’ time, people will still be watching clips of Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Ronnie O’Sullivan (Photo by Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images)

I play snooker and pool now and again so know how hard both are. Then again, if a sport were easy, everybody would be playing it. Some sports require a lot more practice and patience than others.

With pool and snooker, the professionals probably spend eight hours a day practicing.

Let’s face it, 90 per cent of the public can’t be bothered to do it for hours. You have an hour in the snooker hall and, by the end, you can’t wait for it to finish because you have had enough!

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