For someone who didn’t even like sport, it might seem somewhat surprising that Adolf Hitler was able to stage one of the most successful, albeit controversial, games in Olympic history; they were so successful in fact, that the format has been followed in much the same way ever since.
The background to the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games in many ways goes back to WWI, and the Langemarck Hall at the Olympic Stadium is a telling reminder of how Hitler had never forgotten his time in the trenches.
Langemarck was a WWI battlefield in Belgian Flanders and somewhere I visited several years ago. The war cemetery there holds 44,000 German soldiers including many inexperienced young men.
When the stadium, and the Langemarck Hall, was constructed in 1936, Hitler was known to turn to a few confidants to proclaim that there would be “Revenge for Langemarck”.
As a football supporter (love the game, not the business) I can only look on in envy at other parts of the country that have produced some great teams over the years.
The West Country has never been able to produce a decent football club, and that’s probably down to the fact that it’s never had football in its blood the same way as other regions have.
As far as trophy winners are concerned Manchester United and Liverpool have the most, with Newcastle United 9th on the list, with 4 League Titles, 6 FA Cups, and 1 UEFA Cup to its name.
The Magpies (Newcastle Utd’s nickname) haven’t had any silverware to stash away in their cupboard for a while, but it doesn’t seem to dampen their enthusiasm. Their fans passion for the game is well known and the ground’s attendance figures are consistently amongst the highest in the land with nigh on full capacity at most home games.
The team plays at St. James’ Park near the city centre which has a current capacity of 52,354, and although I haven’t been to see a game here I took advantage of one of the stadium tours that are on offer.
I can still remember seeing the joy on Ken Livingstone’s face when London won the selection to host the 2012 Olympic Games, so why wasn’t I jumping up and down for joy with him?
Call me an old cynic if you like, but the legacy of the 2004 Athens Games is a stark reminder of how emotions can change from joy to despair in such a relatively short space of time. The debt that Greece accrued for putting on the world’s greatest sports event was a heavy enough price to pay without the knowledge that the sporting venues quickly fell into disrepair as well.
I’m pretty sure that Ken wasn’t thinking about the sporting side of things when, as Mayor of London at the time, he put the bid in: in fact, I don’t think he even expected to win it. The reason behind his thinking was that the event would focus minds on giving a much-needed boost to rejuvenating a part of East London that was in desperate need of some extra cash, so I think his wide smile was for a different reason to those involved in sport.
I’m also pretty sure that the powers that be were only too aware of what happened in Athens and would have been determined that London’s legacy would be different.
With all this in mind a 500-acre site at Stratford was given the go-ahead as the home of the Olympic Park, the main venue for both the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics.