Jonathan Drennan

Author's details

Name: Jonathan Drennan
Date registered: January 20, 2016
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/tennis

Latest posts

  1. The boy whose commentary for his blind friend inspired his sporting heroes — September 13, 2017
  2. How do retired athletes find work? A footballer has set up a careers site to help — September 1, 2017
  3. The Olympian who swapped Team GB hockey for ice hockey in Basingstoke — July 19, 2017
  4. Jack Kyle: the student who skipped class to play for the Lions against the All Blacks — June 22, 2017
  5. Has Australia fallen out of love with rugby union? — December 8, 2016

Author's posts listings

Sep 13

The boy whose commentary for his blind friend inspired his sporting heroes

When Sydney Swans players heard a 12-year-old boy had been commentating for his mate at one of their matches, they wanted to meet the two youngsters

By Jonathan Drennan for Behind the Lines, part of the Guardian Sport Network

“Mateship” is an Australian expression that stands for friendship and equality, even in times of great challenge. Mark Smith and Jarryd Haines, two young boys from Sydney, embody this ethos of close friendship. The pair have known each other for most of their lives and always enjoyed playing sport together. If there was a ball involved, they would be in the backyard, acting out a crucial Ashes test or taking a spectacular mark in the Australian Rules Grand Final for their beloved Sydney Swans.

A few years ago, when Mark was only nine, he was diagnosed with cancer of the brain and spine. It robbed the young boy of many things: his sight, part of his hearing and his ability to play the sports he loves. Throughout the gruelling medical treatment that left Mark nauseous and exhausted, Jarryd remained his close friend, sharing their continued love of sport, particularly the Sydney Swans.

Related: How do retired athletes find work? A footballer has set up a careers site to help

Heard a beautiful thing at @sydneyswans game tonight. A boy was giving his blind brother a brilliant play by play commentary all game long.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/behind-the-lines/2017/sep/13/boy-commentate-blind-friend-inspired-sydney-swans

Sep 01

How do retired athletes find work? A footballer has set up a careers site to help

Exeter City striker Robbie Simpson noticed footballers were retiring without career prospects so set up a service to help them find fulfilling full-time work

By Jonathan Drennan for Behind the Lines, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Football dressing rooms can be a ruthless places. The social hierarchy is established, the wisecracks are often be merciless and there aren’t many moments for introspection or worrying about what to do once your career finishes. Exeter City forward Robbie Simpson understands the culture but at the age of 32 he has realised that a change in tone could help his fellow athletes. Simpson, who has played in all four divisions below the Premier League, has set up Life After Professional Sport (LAPS), an organisation that aims to help former professional athletes find full-time work.

“In professional football, it is very difficult to show any vulnerability whatsoever, never mind in the dressing room. It’s a place with banter and bravado. All of that is great, but also people don’t want to show any fear or even talk about what will happen next after their careers are over, which needs to change. At League Two level, the reality is, after it’s over, you’re going to have to get a job almost straight away, so we need to start this conversation now and think of life after sport.”

Related: Footballers living on the breadline: low wages, short contracts and no security

Related: Johnny McKinstry: the globetrotting football manager who has just turned 32

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/behind-the-lines/2017/sep/01/robbie-simpson-sport-careers-service-professional-footballer

Jul 19

The Olympian who swapped Team GB hockey for ice hockey in Basingstoke

Great Britain’s all-time top goalscorer, Ashley Jackson, has given up a pro career and a place in the Tokyo 2020 squad to pursue his first love: ice hockey

By Jonathan Drennan for Behind the Lines, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Three-time Olympian Ashley Jackson is about to begin another gruelling pre-season, but for the first time in many years he is excited about a fresh, different challenge. Jackson is Great Britain’s all-time top goalscorer in field hockey, but he has not joined the Olympic squad as they prepare for Tokyo 2020. He has left field hockey behind, for now, to focus on his first love: ice hockey.

Jackson is considered one of the finest hockey players in the world. He made his international debut aged 17 and two years later became the first Englishman to win the FIH young player of the year award. A relative rarity in his chosen sport, the 29-year-old was able to compete as a professional in leagues across the world while building a storied international career. So his decision to play semi-pro ice hockey for Basingstoke Bison has surprised many.

Related: From Belvedere to Barcelona, Bulgaria and beyond: the life of a football nomad

Related: Jack Kyle: the student who skipped class to play for the Lions against the All Blacks

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/behind-the-lines/2017/jul/19/ashley-jackson-olympics-hockey-ice-hockey-basingstoke-bison

Jun 22

Jack Kyle: the student who skipped class to play for the Lions against the All Blacks

Jack Kyle’s parents weren’t happy when he ditched his exams for a four-month tour but he paid them back with tries against the All Blacks and the Wallabies

By Jonathan Drennan for Behind the Lines, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Dr Jack Kyle was voted Ireland’s greatest ever rugby player in 2002, more than four decades after he has last represented his country. He first played for Ireland during the second world war in a friendly against a British Army XV but made his official international debut in 1947, the year before he helped Ireland win their first ever grand slam. He went on to represent the newly named British Lions in New Zealand and Australia but, regardless of what he achieved as a fly-half, he was most proud of his 34-year career working as a surgeon in Zambia.

Related: Jack Kyle, one of Ireland’s all-time rugby greats, dies aged 88

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/behind-the-lines/2017/jun/22/jack-kyle-lions-new-zealand-all-blacks-australia

Dec 08

Has Australia fallen out of love with rugby union?

Australia were well beaten by England on Saturday but the sport is facing bigger troubles at home, where participation, investment and interest are falling

By Jonathan Drennan for Behind the Lines, part of the Guardian Sport Network

The Wallabies have returned home after a heavy defeat to England in front of a capacity crowd at Twickenham. Taking a beating from England is never easy for any Australian sports fan, but the result was softened by the fact that the match reports hovered slightly above the weekend’s lawn bowl results. Rugby union is largely out of sight and out of mind here.

If you don’t live in Australia, it is hard to believe that rugby union features so low on the sporting agenda. The Wallaby jersey has been worn by some of the game’s greatest players and the country’s contribution to the sport has been enormous historically, but the game is losing relevance for Australians. The country’s stadiums are barely filled and the crowds are muted.

Related: Wallabies end 2016 on a low note but positives emerge from European tour | John Davidson

Related: From Fiji to Sweden: how a Scottish cricket coach taught the world to play

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/behind-the-lines/2016/dec/08/australia-rugby-union-england