If you had a golden ticket to one sporting event per month across the globe, where would you go? Nick Westby takes us on a journey.
Dear reader, please accept this as my resignation from ‘Golden Ticket’ duties.
For the last five years – boy and man, sports reporter and sports editor – I have cherished every moment of this mythical journey through the highlights of the year ahead. My overblown imagination has taken me from Augusta to Auckland, Rio to Russia and back again, but the time has come to hand on the golden ticket to someone else.
There is a host of young bucks snapping at my heels for this honour and too many of my days are now spent selecting which people to hire or fire, who to send to which game, and how many sandwiches I should order for lunch.
My notice period is 12 months, and in true ‘golden ticket’ style, I will serve that by eschewing the company expenses policy and whisking myself off to one sporting event per month, across the globe. I will not abuse my position. Honest.
Expect for maybe January, when I fuel up the old YP helicopter and set out to Melbourne for the first tennis grand slam of the year, the Australian Open. Surely Andy Murray will honour my final tour of duty with a belated first tournament victory.
My one indulgence down the years – okay, there have been many – has been a trip to the SuperBowl, and there is no way on this final ride I’m going to let this one slip, so Houston it is on February 5, Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks my tip to meet me there.
Time to show a bit of restraint, as well as my face in the office, as March, April and May brings three trips a lot closer to home.
First up it is the Cheltenham Festival, Thistlecrack versus Cue Card for the Gold Cup.
April brings a change to past years as I snub the Masters at Augusta in favour of a heavyweight title fight at Wembley Stadium. Anthony Joshua going toe-to-toe with Wladimir Klitschko needs to be the marquee fight that a sport which is big on hype, low on quality, craves.
There is also a rumour doing the rounds that I’ve been banned from the Augusta media centre for excessive visits to the buffet table, but my lawyers have advised me not to comment.
So London it is, and our nation’s capital is where I’m staying for a month of football finals in May, the FA Cup and three promotion play-off deciders. Will we get two more Yorkshire protagonists in the richest game in football?
By June, I’m ready to hear the whirr of the rotor blades again, so back I head to the southern hemisphere, New Zealand the destination for the first of three Tests between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions in Auckland.
From that once-in-a-lifetime tour to a more frequent odyssey in the Tour de France throughout July.
The race starts in Dusseldorf on July 1 but with the colour and evocative nature of the grandest of Grand Depart’s in Yorkshire three years earlier still fresh in the mind’s eye, you would only feel disappointment when other regions fail to produce such majesty. So I’ll pick up the race for the yellow jersey in France, beating a path across the Pyranees and the Alps and up to Paris from a tandem that trundles behind.
August was a tricky one. The world athletics championships in London is a big event, but I will have to follow that on the YP Sport twitter feed, for it’s the turn of golf and the PGA Championship, the year’s fourth major, at Quail Hollow Golf Club in North Carolina.
Rory McIlroy has won on this track a couple of times before, so like the Steelers and the Seahawks, consider him another tip to win you some money in 2017.
As the nights start to draw in it is off to Rotterdam in September for triathlon’s World Series Grand Final. The Brownlee brothers will be glad of the cooler climate as they bid to lift a world title again.
A grand final pitting more brothers in arms is next on the agenda, rugby league’s Super League showpiece at Old Trafford. There was no Yorkshire team in the final in 2016. Let’s put a stop to that nonsense in 2017.
Two months to go and it is time to go out with a bang. Abu Dhabi first for the denoument of the Formula 1 season and then one last hurrah in December, the second Ashes Test in Adelaide.
The small print on the golden ticket says one event per month, but I reckon I can flash my award-winning pearlers and sneak under the barrier to finish on a high at the Perth and Melbourne Tests before I’m due home to hand over the ticket and return to my desk.
Something tells me, I might just hold on to this prized slither of gold and do it all again in 2018.