Your Christmas 2015 sporting gift guide
From books, to sporting jewellery, to the Ryder Cup experience, we’ve got you covered
Members of the Nottingham Forest team from 1977 to 1979 pose with their two European Cups ahead of the premiere of I Believe in Miracles. Photo: Getty Images
AP McCoy rides Shutthefrontdoor to fifth place at the 2015 Grand National. ‘Being AP’ is the new DVD which charts the jockey’s remarkable 20-year career. Photo: Getty
Look both stylish and sporty with these stainless steel hurling cufflinks. Photo: gaajewellery.com
Connacht’s special ‘green lantern’ jersey, worn in their memorable win over Munster at Thomond Park, is now available to buy. Photo: Inpho
One of Form and Glory’s Old Trafford posters. Photo: formandglory.com
Fancy sampling the action at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March? Well midlandtravel.ie is the answer for you. Photo: Getty Images
Can Europe retain the Ryder Cup at Hezeltine? You could be there find out. Photo: Getty Images
A half-and-half GAA jersey.
A ticket stub diaryy for those special (and perhaps not so special) memories.
They say it’s often better to give gifts at Christmas than to receive them. While that’s a nice sentiment, there is nothing quite as stressful as a late December dash round the shops, side-stepping window-watchers and braving queues the length of Grafton Street to try to find some last-minute stocking fillers for your loved ones.
So, as our gift to you, we’ve done the hard work and compiled a list of the must-have sporting presents this festive season.
I Believe in Miracles: In 1975 Brian Clough took over the reins at struggling Nottingham Forest following an ill-fated 44-day tenure at Leeds United. At the time Forest were languishing in the lower reaches of the old second division, but the inspired Clough led them to promotion, a football league title and then back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980.
It’s one of the best football stories ever told, yet Forest’s remarkable achievements have often been less-lauded than those of some of the game’s more glamorous sides.
Now, though, the Forest fairytale has been given the attention it deserves with the release of the film I Believe in Miracles. Directed by Johnny Owens, it is, according to Irvine Welsh, “the best film about football you will ever see”, and includes unseen footage of games as well as interviews with each squad member – including Ireland manager Martin O’Neill.
There is also a book of the same name, written by Guardian football writer and Forest supporter Daniel Taylor with a foreword from José Mourinho. Two ideal gifts not just for Forest fans, but football and sport fans in general.
How much: I Believe in Miracles DVD – €14; I Believe in Miracles in hardback – €18 for Kindle – €11.
Ticket Stub diary: It is a great sadness of modern sport that the old-fashioned ticket stub is becoming a thing of the past, replaced by plastic cards loaded with credits and e-tickets hurriedly printed off before you leave for the match.
However, ticket stubs do still exist and any sport fan worth their salt is likely to have a sentimental collection, documenting everything from a League Cup away trip on a freezing Wednesday night through to All-Ireland glory at Croke Park.
This diary is the perfect way to capture a lifetime of sporting memories, and means those ticket stubs can escape a dusty shoebox under the bed and become a piece of memorabilia.
Where: http://www.amazon.co.uk/ Ticket-Stub-Diary-Eric-Epstein/dp/1452114 226
How much: €14
Being AP DVD: This year saw the greatest jump jockey of all time, AP McCoy, ride into retirement after a stunning career that spanned more than 20 years and saw him seal more than 4,300 winners.
Being AP is a feature film that charts the 20-time champion jockey’s final season in the saddle, as he learns to come to terms with the dark spectre of retirement looming over him.
The film gives a glimpse of the highs and lows of a famous final year, the countless wins as well as injuries, and offers an insight into the mind of one of Irish sport’s greatest winners. Again, a must not only for racing fans but all sport fans.
How much: €18.
Hurling cufflinks: Christmas may be the season for daft jumpers and paper hats but chances are you might find yourself having to scrub up and head to a posh end-of-year do.
And for those of you who have loved ones attending their GAA club’s Christmas party, why not ensure they can combine their love for the game with a bit of sartorial swagger by donning a pair of hurling cufflinks.
Where: https://gaajewellery.com/ product/crossed-hurl-cufflinks/
How much: €35.
Red bubble t shirt: With Ireland heading to join the Euro 2016 party in France next summer, it’s time you paid tribute to Martin O’Neill’s men in T-shirt form. Both the FAI and Uefa have been inexplicably slow on the draw and are yet to offer any official tournament merchandise, so why not get the football fanatic in your life a present from Redbubble, a site that offer T-shirts designed by independent artists.
Among the designs on offer are ‘Jonathan Walters: Irish Warrior’, which depicts one of the heroes of Ireland’s successful qualification campaign holding off two Germans by the corner flag. And if you can’t wait until the sunny France to don your new Walters stash, it’s also available in hoody form.
How much: €21.
3 x Ryder Cup Pro V1s: This year Europe are looking to make it four consecutive wins and seven in the last eight against the USA in the Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy will again be the main man for Darren Clarke’s side at Hazeltine, and chances are he will end up going toe-to-toe with world number one Jordan Spieth.
There’s a raft of Ryder Cup goodies already available, but why not get your favourite hacker a sleeve of official Titleist Pro V1 golf balls ahead of the game’s greatest team event. If, like us, they’d be too scared to use them for fear of losing them in a pond, then they’d make a fine mantelpiece memento. But if not, they’ll be perfect for the first tee in January – and who knows, they could be the catalyst behind a late push for selection.
How much: €22 for a sleeve of three.
Connacht ‘Green Lantern’ jersey One of the highlights of the domestic rugby season so far has been Connacht’s rise to the top of the Pro12 table. For their famous win over Munster at Thomond Park, Pat Lam’s men were donning limited-edition ‘Green Lantern’ jerseys, inspired by the comic book character, as part of kit manufacturer BLK’s partnership with DC Comics.
The jerseys go on sale in children’s sizes from December 8th, and will be the perfect present for any budding Robbie Henshaws.
How much: €50.
O’Neills Half-and-Half Jersey: Are you from Monaghan and your significant other from Mayo? Was your son born in London but raised in Limerick? Did your daughter go to school in Cavan before moving to Cork?
For many people the GAA is as partisan as it gets but there are scores of young supporters who end up with divided loyalties, whether down to different family allegiances or after upping sticks and leaving their home county.
So O’Neills and the GAA have come up with the perfect solution, by enabling young fans to fly the flag for two counties at the same time. The half-and-half GAA jerseys are available in sizes from 0-3 months to 13 years – after which time, you imagine, a final decision will have to be made.
You can also add a name and number to the jersey for a personal touch.
Where: www.oneills.com/half-half- county-jersey-kids-1.html
How much: €35-€55 (Name and number €5 each).
Fitbit wristband: Christmas is as heavy on the waist line as it is the wallet – only in December can two mince pies constitute the breakfast of champions.
But after a few weeks of gluttony most of us head tentatively into the new year with plans and promises of new fitness regimes to get us looking trim as the days get longer and the weather warmer.
It’s often easier said than done, but one present that can make the January health kick a lot easier is the Fitbit, a wristband device that tracks your daily activity – including everything from steps taken to calories burned – in order to help you reach your fitness goals.
The Fitbit syncs with your computer and smartphone and lets you track your progress over time, and even has a caller ID feature to let you know if somebody’s trying to call you mid workout.
How much: Fitbit Charge, for everyday fitness, €123.
Form and Glory posters: Whether it’s for the hallway of the family home or your teenager’s dungeon of a bedroom, brighten up the walls with a football poster with a difference from Form and Glory. Again, they have a number of designers producing quirky and interesting prints covering a wide number of football league teams. We particularly like the stadium posters, which show a minimalist bird’s eye view of a number of Europe’s most famous ground and their surrounding streets.
How much: Anfield and Old Trafford stadium prints in size A2, €50.
GAA GO: It is easy to take for granted that every Sunday we can turn on the television and get our GAA fix, but for expats living around the world, it’s never been that simple.
Until now. With GAAGO, exiled supporters can gain access to games wherever they are. This year’s season pass includes more than 100 Championship and Allianz League games both live and on demand, as well The Sunday Game highlights programme.
The GAA are offering a gift service as well, so you can surprise a loved one living away with a card to say they can now get up in the early hours of the morning to tune in throughout the season. A perfect present for those exiles pining for a vital piece of home.
How much: €160.
France v Ireland Six Nations rugby package: Ireland’s disappointing World Cup campaign may still be a sore point but time is the best healer, and a new year always means a new Six Nations campaign. Joe Schmidt’s side’s first away trip is against France, and it falls a day before Valentines. Why not book your significant other a romantic weekend away in the city of love, which just so conveniently happens to tie in with one of the biggest rugby gamesof the year?
How much: €619 (two-night trip including category-four match ticket).
Cheltenham Festival package: Cheltenham Festival is the pinnacle of the national hunt season, so why not head over next year to hear that famous roar first hand. Various packages are available, including one that gets you access to all four days of the festival. And if you pick well, the trip could end up costing you nothing.
How much: €639 (five nights hotel, four-day pass for the Tattersall’s Enclosure).
Ryder Cup package: This year it is Europe’s turn to head to America, where they will try to secure the Ryder Cup for the fourth consecutive year – and with Rory McIlroy in Darren Clarke’s team, you wouldn’t bet against them. Watching Europe win the Ryder Cup on American soil could be one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments – how about cheering on the boys at Hazeltine?
How much: Blue tee package, €2,650 (four-night hotel, Ryder Cup season ticket).