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Tributes pour in for Sky Sports’ Nigel Pearson following his death at the age of 52 | Darts News

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Sky Sports commentator Nigel Pearson died at the age of 52 on Friday

Sky Sports commentator Nigel Pearson died at the age of 52 on Friday

“All Nigel wanted to know was whether he was doing Dublin and Belfast,” Sky Sports’ darts producer Rory Hopkins said as he led the tributes to Nigel Pearson, who died aged 52 on Good Friday.

Pearson commentated as part of Sky Sports’ coverage of the darts for over 15 years since joining in 2006 and was also an experienced speedway presenter and commentator.

He was also a radio commentator and was part of talkSPORT from the launch of the station in 1995.

Pearson’s death has shocked everyone on the Sky Sports darts team, including producer Hopkins, who had known Pearson for over 20 years.

“He liked a pint and enjoyed reading the newspaper. He loved his job too”

Rory Hopkins on Nigel Pearson

“He was the British speedway press officer and although I never met him at the time I got him to do an interview. He was good so I put him on some commentary and it went from there,” Hopkins recalled.

“People think he’s good on darts, but listen to some of his speedway commentary and it’s just fantastic. He lit up the sport.

“Apart from Clarky (Dave Clark) he’s the one reporter, presenter that I would ring up for no reason at all and chat with.

“I reckon when he was a kid, all of us were kicking the ball around, and he would be standing there with a stick in his hand pretending to be a commentator. That was his real dream.

“He just loved sport, although speedway was definitely his first love.

“I’ve worked with some great combinations and Nigel and Kelvin (Tatum) made speedway so interesting and so good. He was great on darts, but he was the best on speedway.”

Hopkins joked Pearson could find an Irish bar in the Sahara desert, regaling a story from a trip to Scandinavia.

“We didn’t even know if there was a bar in town but Nigel would find one somehow. He liked a pint and enjoyed reading the newspaper. He loved his job too.”

“Such sad news about Nigel Pearson or Nige to us all. Nige never had a bad word about anyone and you never heard anyone say anything but good things about Nige. Nigel came to Sky Sports over twenty years ago to join our Speedway team, it was his true love and he soon became our main commentator and presenter of the show. He then got moved on to darts as well, adding an energy and excitement to the sport. He was just a brilliant commentator. Lots of us when young dreamed of scoring the winning goal for England or smashing a century against the Aussies, I’m sure Nigel’s dream was to commentate on this happening. He loved commentating and he loved sport. When World Champions like Barney and Gerwyn Price are tweeting what a great guy Nigel was you know his cheeks would have puffed out with such pride to see those words. Nige was a great tourist, happy in the company of his team or just as happy on his own as long as there was a creamy pint of Guinness sitting in front of him.”

Sky Sports darts statement on Pearson’s sudden death

Former Sky Sports presenter Dave Clark I ‘He could turn his hand to pretty much anything’

Tributes have been paid to Sky Sports commentator Nigel Pearson, who died at the age of 52

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Tributes have been paid to Sky Sports commentator Nigel Pearson, who died at the age of 52

Tributes have been paid to Sky Sports commentator Nigel Pearson, who died at the age of 52

“Nigel loved sport, loved a Guinness and most of all loved his precious family. To die at the age of 52 is unthinkable,” said Clark.

“He was one of life’s good guys. It would be hard to find a warmer, more enthusiastic and friendlier person.

“He had an incredible talent to bring even the dullest of games to life with his high octane, staccato style commentary which he’d honed in the world’s of football and speedway. I was in awe of his work on Sky Sports speedway coverage.

“He would not only present the show with his sidekick Kelvin, but would then turn around on the scaffolding studio and somehow commentate on 60 seconds of motorsport mayhem on a 300-metre shale circuit. Nigel would perfectly encapsulate the exciting and breath-taking one minute of action around the speedway circuits of Britain and Europe. ‘No brakes, no gears no fears… oh my word there’s a punch-up in the pit-lane’ he’d scream.

“Speedway on Sky was the perfect television show, dramatic action packed in a short sharp show, Nigel held it all together, so brilliantly. It was television gold.”

‘What a life’, he would say, ‘I get paid to watch things I’d pay to watch, we’re living the dream Clarky, living the dream’.

Dave Clark on Nigel Pearson

Clark continued: “His move to the Sky Sports darts team was seamless. Commentary icons Sid Waddell, John Gwynne and Dave Lanning instantly warmed to him.

“I remember Sid and Nige calling in Raymond van Barneveld’s first nine-darter at the World Championship in 2009, a great moment for all concerned. Nigel was happy to play second fiddle, letting Sid dish out the punchline.

“It’s a real credit to his skills that Nigel was one of the most in-demand commentators around. He could turn his hand to pretty much anything. ‘What a life’, he would say, ‘I get paid to watch things I’d pay to watch, we’re living the dream Clarky, living the dream’.

“Always a laugh, always generous with his time and always great company.

“I’ll raise a glass to a wonderful human and a top friend. And yes, I’ll make sure it’s a pint of Guinness.”

Rod Studd I ‘Nige had so much vibrancy and enthusiasm’

“I’m deeply saddened by it and difficult to compute and comprehend because it makes no sense,” said an emotional Studd.

“I will remember him as a very kind person, a lot of fun. A guy who had so much vibrancy and enthusiasm in his commentary. He really did bring sport to life.”

Studd continued: “We would use a lot of catchphrases and one of them was ‘right place, right time’ and you were greeted with that quite often. ‘Nigel Pearson, right place, right time’ and he would reply with ‘no mistake at all’.

“When we were in Wolverhampton at the Civic Hall, Nige was at the snack bar and I came along and asked him, ‘what are you up to, Nigel?’ He looked around and said ‘I’m just contemplating a cheese cob’. I don’t know why, but it made us both crack up.

“It became a thing when we messaged each other. He would text me saying ‘what are you up to, old lad?’ I’d reply with ‘I’m just contemplating a cheese cob for lunch’. It became a bit of a catchphrase.”

Studd recalled another hilarious anecdote from a trip to the Citywest Hotel in Dublin for the World Grand Prix.

“The corridor at the Citywest would stretch for hundreds and hundreds of yards and they’d criss-cross each other like a bit of a maze. We’d go back to the hotel and Nige said ‘I’m off the bed’ but he walked off in a direction which I knew was the complete opposite direction of his room. He strode off in some kind of military march.

“I remember saying to myself, ‘he’ll be back in a minute’ and sure enough 10 seconds later the figure of Nigel Pearson swept past me again, this time in the correct direction.

“This would be repeated every time we were there at the Citywest. He’d go off and I’d say ‘he’ll be back in a minute’. It’s so silly, but you can repeat it. It’s part and parcel of a relationship.”

‘It’s Emma PATON’

‘Alright Nige!’

“Well that’s how every conversation started. Nige, with a smile on his face, and ultimately taking the mick! I already miss those conversations.

“I have so many wonderful memories of Nige, he was so warm, so welcoming, so incredibly kind and above all – he just wanted you to succeed. He was as genuine as they come.

“I’ll cherish the times we spent together at darts and around it. I think of just a few weeks ago, after a Premier League night in Belfast – that night was peak Nigel. A Guinness in hand. Talking darts. Talking football (mostly bantering me about Manchester United). Talking family – oh how he loved his family.

“When I think of Nige, I think of his smile, he ALWAYS had a smile on his face.

“Nige, keep smiling up there. We miss you terribly.”

Laura Turner I ‘An iconic voice of our generation’

“Like everyone, I’m still shocked at the sudden passing of Nigel Pearson. Nige was so full of life – passionate, professional and his love of sports (especially speedway, darts and football) was infectious! An iconic voice of our generation, and one which will be greatly missed,” said co-commentator, Turner.

“Away from the mic, Nige was just a wonderful person. Kind and considerate, upbeat and fun to be around – I’ll never forget all the words of encouragement and help he’s given me since joining the team at Sky, and the laughs we’ve all shared!

“My thoughts are with Nigel’s family at this sad time.”





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Women’s leagues WNBA, etc. have ushered in sports’ golden age

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Image for article titled A rising tide lift all boats and it's time we threw Jason Whitlock’s ilk overboard

Image: Getty Images

Choosing between women’s and men’s sports is a false choice. If you’re a certain blogger for Glenn Beck’s conservative Blaze media, revisionist history can be a comfort zone that vilifies feminism in sports as your woke sports boogeyman, but makes you look like a headass instead. Jason Whitlock’s resentment-driven tweet on women’s basketball’s place at the bottom of the sports hierarchy eventually led to a longer missive against women’s societal advancements and the fall of masculinity.

Oddly enough, in a link I don’t care to share, Whitlock proceeded to blame feminism for everything ranging from drag queens, to the degradation of the nuclear family, and the decline of biblical values. In Whitlock’s opinion, the glass ceiling wasn’t sturdy enough.

He pontificated in his Wednesday column: “As technology advanced and curbed the natural hardships of basic survival, American men led the world in granting freedom and autonomy to women. Feminists have taken advantage of man’s instinct to please women, casting themselves as long-suffering victims of male supremacy, and reshaped American society into a culture that favors the weaker sex.”

In fairness to Whitlock, let’s analyze all the excellent points he made.

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Hold on a second. I read the entire screed. Something will squeeze out soon…

Whitlock spews more garbage

He did attempt to trace a crooked link between modern society and early man’s roles as hunter-gathers, but it doubled as a rant against evolution. Imagine beginning your argument for a return to medieval masculinity by bemoaning women’s sports on TV. As usual, the intellectual cupboard is bare. Whitlock’s fragility over women’s sports is indicative of the obstacles women in workplaces have always faced. For a contingent of dudes who take his word as gospel though, women’s sports are their bête noire.

Battling over an alternate view of history that makes a case for how sexism was good or opining that the women from the Greatest Generation who took occupations in defense plants and factories during the war effort of the 1940s defanged American culture is a fascinating insight into how a twisted mind justifies itself. Don’t give yourself hemorrhoids trying to mine wisdom from those thought turds, and never roll with a pig in his sty.

Women’s leagues have helped usher in sports’ golden age

If you’ve browsed the front page of Deadspin’s space lately, or any industry leaders like Fox Sports, ESPN, CBS Sports, or Yahoo Sports, you’d know the myth of the feminist agenda pushing men’s sports aside is a pile of crap. America’s Big 4 leagues, plus NASCAR, Formula 1, college football, and college basketball have reigned supreme since being given a 50 to 75-year year head start over organized women’s athletics.

In a few short months, the U.S. Women’s National Team will defend their World Cup so you can expect to see their faces plastered all over ESPN screens between now and then. The USWNT has won half of the first eight Women’s World Cups FIFA’s held, but had to grapple with U.S. Soccer for pay commensurate with men last year. Their decades-long push was reminiscent of Billie Jean King and the “Original Nine’s” early enterprising. Their revolutionary founding of the WTA is one of the impetus for women’s tennis being on a more equal footing with the men’s tour.

The most prominent leagues have had to share space in an increasingly crowded room (pickleball has entered the chat), but this is the golden age of live sports. The continued growth of women’s leagues has been nearly as monumental as streaming has been to prestige television. The only downside to the panoply of options at our disposal is the paradox of choice.

Dawn Staley and Kim Mulkey are college basketball titans

Today men’s college basketball is in a rut. It’s as rife with parity, as it is empty in name-brand, blue-chip talent, or upper-echelon teams. The inverse of men’s hoops’ suboptimal tornado of middle-of-the-road teams, is happening in the division where Dawn Staley’s South Carolina Gamecocks are cruising toward a repeat. Fans love dynasties and one may be building in Columbia.

UConn is still a threat on Feb. 5, however, its biggest obstacle resides within the SEC.

Kim Mulkey and Staley have taken the baton as college basketball’s preeminent rivalry. The juiciest storyline in college basketball, regardless of gender, is the upcoming tilt between the only undefeated teams left in the nation. Hopefully, someone informs Alfalfa’s He-Man Womun Haters club not to switch on the late-night SportsCenter shows on the night of Feb. 18.

The halcyon yesteryear of the UConn-Tennessee rivalry is long gone in the Vols’ post-Pat Summitt era. Even with former Naismith Player of the Year Paige Bueckers on the mend for the entire season and phenom Azzi Fudd in and out of the lineup, UConn has been firmly entrenched in the top 10. Tennessee is still on the road back to prominence under Kellie Harper and was promptly smacked down by the Huskies on Thursday night.

While we’re on that note, contrary to the Blaze TV blogger’s soliloquy about women’s advancements coming off the backs of men’s work, the infrastructure for modern women’s basketball was originally built by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. At its peak, the AIAW’s membership consisted of 280 colleges that held championships across 19 sports, including women’s hoops. The AIAW was a women’s collegiate sports organization founded by women, but in 1981, the NCAA took over from the AIAW after 120 schools left for the more economically advantaged NCAA.

Breanna Stewart’s free agency

Over in the WNBA, free agency is in full bloom. Candace Parker is vacillating on whether to wind her career down in Chicago or with one last hurrah in Los Angeles. Free agent center Brionna Jones, the reigning Sixth Player of the Year, is essentially seeking to branch out after her second Finals appearance. Think of a bigger James Harden in 2012, trying to loosen himself from Oklahoma City’s bench.

The bulk of WNBA free agency attention is trained on Breanna Stewart’s movements. Reportedly, Stewart has whittled her choice down to approximately four teams, including her home state New York Liberty, a pairing with Elena Delle Donne in Washington, running it back with a depleted Seattle Storm roster, or zagging unexpectedly to the Minnesota Lynx.

There’s no planned primetime TV special starring Jim Gray, or Hannah Storm for the internet Whitlocks to carp about, but the Liberty are what everyone in the league office is undoubtedly rooting for. Imagine if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh had chosen the Knicks in 2010. Or if Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Harden had been a more well-adjusted collection of personalities. Stewart linking up with 2020’s No. 1 overall pick, Sabrina Ionescu, recently acquired 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones, and free agent Courtney Vandersloot would be the culmination of an arms race with the Las Vegas Aces.

In addition to looking out for her own future, Stewart is using her clout to engineer solutions to funding charter flights for the league’s 12 teams. Stewart’s efforts have reignited the discourse around the WNBA’s problematic travel arrangements. We’ve long known that cramming long athletes onto commercial flights dozens of times a season is a hindrance to peak performance, but the WNBA hasn’t quite taken it to heart yet and Stewart’s not keen on waiting until the CBA expires in 2028 to address it.

Ultimately, for every sports fan with Whitlock’s attitude, there’s Kobe Bryant. Kobe and others understood that a rising tide lifts all boats. In his final years, Kobe became an advocate for women’s hoops. Then, three years and a day ago, he perished on his way to coach his daughter’s AAU team. But if you’re having trouble choosing between living in a shared reality where the Black Mamba’s noblesse oblige spirit is considered ruinous to culture or one where internet Whitlocks signify strength, your worldview is bass-ackwards and you’ve got your head on the wrong side of your torso.



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Pep Guardiola jokes he’s ‘sorry’ that he stopped Mikel Arteta from becoming Manchester City manager

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Arsenal will face City at the Etihad Stadium tonight, with Guardiola’s former assistant back on his old North West stomping ground in the FA Cup fourth round.

The Gunners head north leading rivals City by five points with a game in hand atop the Premier League, but acutely aware of the challenging taking on the frustrated Guardiola and company.

Arteta left Guardiola’s City setup in December 2019 to take the Arsenal helm, transforming the Gunners in remarkable fashion since.

“I am pretty sure if I would have left here before, he would be here [at City] and he would be the best, absolutely,” said Guardiola, of Arteta.

“But I extended my contract, I am sorry, and he didn’t wait, so it could not happen. But definitely it could have.”

Arteta joined Manchester City’s coaching ranks on retiring as a player in 2016, learning his craft under master tactician and serial winner Guardiola.

City’s former Barcelona boss revealed how Arteta would never celebrate goals against the Gunners, the team he represented more than 100 times between 2011 and 2016.

“He loves the club; I remember when we were together here and we scored goals, he jumped a lot and celebrated – except with one team,” said Guardiola.

“One team, every time we score a goal, I jump, look back and he was sitting there. It was Arsenal.”



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R Madrid 3 – 1 A Madrid

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Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior scored in extra-time as Real Madrid fought back to beat local rivals Atletico 3-1 on Thursday and reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals.

On a freezing night at a sold-out Santiago Bernabeu hosting its first game for 77 days due to the World Cup break, Real started slowly and Atletico had many dangerous counter-attacks.

Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata, right, celebrates with teammate Antoine Griezmann after scoring the opening goal during the Spanish Copa del Rey quarter final soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
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Atletico Madrid took the lead against their rivals

Atletico captain Koke delivered a brilliant through ball to Nahuel Molina who ghosting in behind Reals defence and the full back set up Alvaro Morata, a former Real academy player, to tap the ball into an empty net in the 19th minute.

Eder Militao wasted a golden chance to equalise in the 32nd minute after Toni Kroos had delivered a perfect cross.

Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring
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Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring the opener

It was not only until Dani Ceballos came off the bench to replace the injured Ferland Mendy late in the first half that Real started to play better.

The 26-year-old midfielder injected a new dynamic into the team who were far more aggressive after the break.

Benzema wasted two good opportunities and Federico Valverde also sent a shot wide from just outside the box.

Real Madrid's Rodrygo celebrates with team-mates
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Real Madrid’s Rodrygo celebrates with team-mates

Substitute Rodrygo equalised in the 79th with a delightful goal, dribbling past three defenders before finishing well.

With Real Madrid in full control, Atletico played most of extra time with 10 men after defender Stefan Savic was shown his second yellow card for chopping down Eduardo Camavinga in the 99th minute.

Five minutes later, Real substitute Marco Asensio sent a low cross into the box and Vinicius’s deflected shot reached Benzema who unleashed an unstoppable strike into the net.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the Spanish Copa del Rey quarter final soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
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Karim Benzema’s goal made it 2-1 in extra time

Vinicius secured Real’s win in the dying seconds with a brilliant individual goal, running half the length of the pitch before scoring with a low shot.

“We got behind very early and after Mendy’s injury the whole team had to be rebuilt. But we woke up and played really well after the break,” Ceballos told TVE.

“They played better in the first half, but the coach corrected things in the second; we took control of the ball and found the goal. Then, after the red card, everything was easier.”

Real Madrid joined Barcelona, Osasuna and Athletic Bilbao in the semi-finals.



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