And Tully told nufc.co.uk on Monday: “It’s good, considering everything we expected from the rugby. “At the end of the day it’s a football pitch – not a rugby one – and we are in the process of a quick turnaround to get it ready for football again at the weekend. “The pitch hasn’t gone anywhere – it’s still there. You’ve got the rugby markings and a bit of damage from the games, which is what we knew would happen and we will tend to throughout the week. “We worked pretty late through the double-header – that was always going to be the case. Two games in two days of any sport is a lot for a pitch to take. It’s just general wear in high-traffic areas that we really have to tend to. “By Sunday it will be looking fantastic.” Some onlookers expressed concern at seeing Tully and fellow staff on the pitch during breaks in play in the trio of rugby fixtures. But he added: “That’s just what you’ve got to do. “It’s best that we were going on during the games, instead of rugby players stamping on divots, putting them back in upside down or anything like that. “We were going on, tending to them properly and putting them back in the right way up, so they had more of a chance to recover.” Newcastle are currently bottom of the Premier League and still looking for their first top-flight win of the season. Newcastle have moved to allay any worries about the pitch at St James’ Park, declaring it will be in “fantastic” condition for Sunday’s Barclays Premier League clash with Norwich. Since the Magpies’ last home fixture on September 26, the stadium has been used for three rugby union matches as part of the World Cup, including two in two days last week. But Newcastle have stressed that deputy head groundsman Andrew Tully and his colleagues have been working since the final one of those – Scotland’s victory over Samoa on Saturday – to get the surface back in shape. Press Association
Owayne Gordon performed the Moses act of leading his team to the promised land of the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) final but, like the biblical character, he will not set foot in it this year, at least. Gordon, the 24-year-old attacker and a shoo-in for this season’s golden boot after a haul of 20 goals, including one in the first-leg semi-final, left the island yesterday morning to take up a contract with United States Soccer League team INDY11. The former Anchovy High School player, who had a stint with Arnett Gardens in the RSPL, was Montego Bay United’s most consistent player this season. While not scoring in Sunday night’s 2-2 second leg semi-final draw, he played a major part over the two legs and scored the first to give them a 2-1 win in Montego Bay. This is despite knowing that he would not be around to physically lift the cup if they should win. “I told my team from minute one of the semi-final that I am going to be the one who puts you guys in the final, so I want when I get there, I hear good things,” Gordon said of his mindset going into his final two games of the season for Montego Bay United. Despite his psychological preparation, Gordon confessed that it was still hard not being part of the big occasion. “It is bittersweet. I am definitely sad about it because after playing so well throughout the tournament, not playing a part in the final is a bit hard. It really means a lot, but I will not be here in physical presence, but my spirit will be here. “On the other hand, it is a big plus for me and my team, as I am moving on to a bigger stage. It is good for my team, too, as it shows the work that we are putting in that someone recognises that and has given me the chance to play in a different environment. Honestly, I am very pleased about that,” explained Gordon, who said he made a pledge last season to climb to the top. Having had his first professional break outside the country, the St James resident said his approach will be the same. “This opportunity is a big thing for me because it is my first signing to a club outside of Jamaica. My plan is to go there and do as well as I have done here in our Premier League, go there and score some goals. “I went to Vietnam once and it was OK. I did not play for the club. I just went on a trial, but didn’t get a contract. I have a contract now to show what I am really made of, so I will go out there and do my best,” he promised.
It was the second bold attack against a U.S. base north of Baghdad in just over two months and was notable for its use of a suicide car bomber. On Feb. 19, insurgents struck a U.S. combat post in Tarmiyah, about 30 miles north of Baghdad, killing two soldiers and wounding 17 in what the military called a “coordinated attack.” It began with a suicide car bombing, then gunfire on soldiers pinned down in a former Iraqi police station, where fuel storage tanks were set ablaze by the blast. Militants have mostly used hit-and-run ambushes, roadside bombs or mortars on U.S. troops and stayed away from direct assaults on fortified military compounds to avoid U.S. firepower. Also Monday, U.S. officials signaled that they might reconsider putting a three-mile concrete barrier around a Sunni Arab neighborhood in Baghdad after Iraq’s struggling prime minister came under pressure from Sunnis and ordered the project halted. Plans for the separation barrier to protect the Azamiyah neighborhood were in doubt after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki criticized the idea of creating “gated communities” to separate Baghdad’s sectarian neighborhoods. Speaking during a tour of Sunni-led Arab countries, the Shiite Muslim prime minister said he did not want the 12-foot-high wall planned for Azamiyah to be seen as dividing the capital’s sects. Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority dominated during Saddam Hussein’s reign; its members remain deeply distrustful of Shiite intentions and provide the backbone of the Iraqi insurgency. Shiite militias, in turn, have been attacking Sunni neighborhoods in retaliation for insurgent attacks on their own communities. Azamiyah’s Sunni residents have been the target of frequent mortar attacks by Shiite militants, but hundreds of people in the district took to the streets to protest against the wall that they said would make their neighborhood “a big prison.” The new American ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, defended the barrier plan Monday, saying it was an effort to protect the Sunni community from surrounding Shiite areas, not to segregate it. Holding his first news conference since taking his post, Crocker said security measures were implemented in coordination with the Iraqi government. “Obviously, we will respect the wishes of the government and the prime minister,” he said, although he did not say construction would halt. Al-Maliki said he would not allow “a separation wall,” but then he said the subject would be discussed and that he would not rule out all barriers, such as barbed wire. Iraq’s chief military spokesman indicated that some type of barrier would go up, saying al-Maliki was responding to exaggerated reports about the wall. “We will continue to construct the security barriers in the Azamiyah neighborhood. This is a technical issue,” Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said at a joint news conference with a U.S. military spokesman, Rear Adm. Mark Fox. “Setting up barriers is one thing and building barriers is another. These are moveable barriers that can be removed.” Al-Moussawi noted that similar walls made of sections of concrete are in place elsewhere in Baghdad, including in other residential neighborhoods. The confusion over the barrier reflected a lack of coordination between al-Maliki’s government and the U.S. military even as they have touted their partnership. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BAGHDAD – Nine U.S. soldiers were killed and 20 wounded Monday in a suicide car bombing against a patrol base northeast of the capital in Diyala province, a volatile area that has been the site of fierce fighting, the military said. The attack came on a day when insurgents struck across Iraq, carrying out seven other bombings that killed at least 48 people. Of the 20 wounded in the attack on Task Force Lightning in Diyala, 15 soldiers were treated and returned to duty while five others were evacuated to a medical facility for further care, the military said. An Iraqi civilian was also wounded. Identities were not released pending notification of relatives.