Commonwealth sham brought memories flooding back

By Danny Caro, September 28, 2010

I'm sure I was not the only one who feared the worst when I heard the headlines 'Bridge collapse threatens Games'. Events surrounding the Commonwealth Games in India brought back terrible memories of two recent Maccabiah Games.

No-one wants reminding of the terrible events that surrounded the 1997 Jewish Olympics. Four Australian athletes lost their lives marching into the opening ceremony when a makeshift bridge collapsed into the highly-polluted waters of the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv.

The second similarity were the unhygienic living conditions in the athletes' village. At last year's 18th Maccabiah Games, the entire junior Team GB delegation were swifty removed from sub-standard accommodation in Neve Hadassah where I received reports of cockroaches and much worse. The GB organising committee worked around the clock to rectify the situation and the young squad ended up in a five-star hotel in Jerusalem. The message is simple. Never again. The warning signs have long been there and I'm amazed that the Games are going ahead.

● Alex Haffner has announced his retirement from the MSFL. The Montana Boca United A defender suffered a second dislocation to the same shoulder he injured several months ago. He said: "It was bad luck that the shoulder went again in my first league game back. It would ultimately have happened again at some point in the future.

"There is an option for me to go under the knife again, this time via much more intrusive surgery. Although I would love to keep playing football, the prospect of another three months in a sling plus several months of rehab for a procedure which might not ultimately work is not one I'm up for going through.

"Very reluctantly, I've therefore had to accept that I have to hang up my boots and find other ways to let out my aggression on a Sunday morning."

Haffner hopes to continue playing cricket for London Maccabi Vale next season.

● Team GB still have places available in several sports for the squad travelling to the European Maccabi Games in Vienna next July. They are looking for athletes in swimming, chess, girls and women's tennis, open karate, junior and open judo, junior basketball boys, girls and women's table tennis, fencing and open badminton.

● Mark Ableson raised nearly £5,000 doing a six-mile walk at the London Bridgathon in memory of his late son Richard, who lost his battle with leukaemia. Mark's journey took him over the bridges of London, with all proceeds going to the Leukaemia & Lymphoma unit at UCLH. Mark said: "It was a real tribute to my well-loved and fondly-remembered son."

● It's time for my first monthly football awards of the season. Player of the Month goes to London Lions hotshot James Gershfield who hit the target 14 times, including two hat-tricks in the South Midlands League Division One.

Redbridge Jewish Care A cleaned up in the JC MSFL Premier Division with six-goal striker Daran Bern and manager Sam McCarthy picking up the gongs following three league victories as well as success in the London FA Sunday Intermediate Cup.

Manchester Maccabi 3rds boss Martin Simons is the JC MJSL top boss after steering his troops to four wins out of five. Haroldeans' Josh Silverberg wins top player after finding the net eight times.

● I'll be making some guest appearances on Israel's first all-sports talk radio station, Israel Sports Radio, which hits the airwaves on October 4. Set up by Ari Louis, Andy Gershman and Josh Halickman, the show will provide eight hours of continuous original programming, five days a week. Jeremy Last will present live talk and sports news.

The Maccabi GB Ten Pin Bowling tournament takes place at Airport Bowl on Sunday.

Last updated: 1:42pm, September 28 2010