Ten reasons to love sport - tea ladies, triathlons & trailblazers

Feel-Good Thursday - an antidote to sport's woes
(We know it's normally Feel-Good Friday, but anyway...)

Doping, corruption, cover-ups, controversy ... there seems to be an awful lot of bad news around sport at the moment.

With the head of world football suspended and in hospital, calls to ban Russia from athletics, and the fractious fallout sparked by England's early Rugby World Cup exit, every day seems to bring a new low.

So in an attempt to lift the mood, we wanted to invoke the spirit of Sonny Bill Williams, the medal-sharing World Cup winner.

We're calling it 'Feel-Good Thursday' - and here we bring you 10 heart-warming tales to remind us of why we fell in love with sport in the first place.

Get involved with your own favourites on our Sportsday page via #feelgoodthursday.

Cuppa cheer - the 'irreplaceable' club stalwart

Kath Cassidy
Kath Cassidy has served beverages to dozens of players, managers - including opposition ones - and journalists at St James' Park since 1963.

She made brews for everyone from Alan Shearer to Sir Alex Ferguson, but after more than 50 years of service, Newcastle United's tea lady Kath Cassidy hung up her spoon in October.

The 88-year-old had served beverages to dozens of home and away players, managers and journalists at St James' Park since 1963.

"Players can be replaced, managers can be replaced, but people like you, Kath, are irreplaceable," said misty-eyed former manager Kevin Keegan.

In an BBC Radio 5 live interview, Kath revealed how former captain Alan Shearer shunned sugar and named her favourite of the 48 managers she'd served tea to.

Jay Beatty - half-time hero

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Young fan wins Scottish goal award

A young Celtic supporter with Down's syndrome won the Scottish Professional Football League Goal of the Month Award for January with a half-time penalty at Hamilton.

Almost 97% of fans voted for youngster Jay Beatty to win the award.

The 11-year-old was carried around the Celtic Park pitch by his favourite player, Georgios Samaras, during their title-winning celebrations in May 2014.

He was then invited to give the pre-match team talk before scoring the half-time goal to huge cheers and chants of "there's only one Jay Beatty".

The fan and the homeless man

Matt Bradley
Gordon Roberts and Matt Bradley at the Bournemouth game

Matt Bradley may be one of the most generous football fans in the country, judged on his random act of kindness on Saturday.

After his father was unable to attend a Bournemouth match at the last minute, Matt gave the spare ticket to an elderly homeless man.

He had spotted 86-year-old Gordon Roberts outside the ground and gave him the ticket for free. The pair watched the Cherries lose 1-0 to Newcastle, with Matt buying Gordon a cup of tea at half-time.

"It was nice to give something back and do something for someone in need," Matt told the Daily Mirror.

Pint-sized pitch invader

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Four-year-old pitch invader scores try

When a four-year-old boy got lost and wandered on to the pitch during a rugby league charity match in Australia, there were a few anxious moments.

But players in the August game between New South Wales and Queensland made his dreams come true.

They passed him the ball and sent him running towards the try line.

He needed no second invitation, seeing off a series of half-hearted challenges as he powered up the pitch.

'Get stuffed' - trailblazing jockey

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Melbourne Cup 2015: Michelle Payne dedicates win to female jockeys

Michelle Payne made horse racing history last week by becoming the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, known as the "race that stops a nation" in Australia.

The youngest of 10 children, Payne was raised by her father on the family farm in Victoria after her mother died when she was just six months old.

She has fought back from life-threatening race injuries, while her brother and stablehand Stephen Payne has Down's syndrome.

"It's such a chauvinistic sport, I know some of the owners wanted to kick me off, " said Payne, 30. "I want to say to everyone else, 'get stuffed', because women can do anything and we can beat the world."

Premier League pen pal

Morgan Schneiderlin
Morgan Schneiderlin reportedly replies to each and every one of his fans' mail

For a player who cost Manchester United £27m, Morgan Schneiderlin has proved he has not lost touch with his loyal fans.

In fact, the France midfielder replies to all his fan mail - even hand-writing each envelope and including a signed photograph.

A United official told the Sun: "Morgan comes in every week and takes every single one home and reads the lot.

"That's brilliant and shows how humble he is."

Those are a few of the sporting stories from 2015. How about some classics from longer ago?

Family matters - pulling together for triathlons

Dick and Rick Hoyt
Dick and Rick Hoyt completed 1,108 endurance races

"When I'm running it feels like my disability disappears."

These are the words of Rick Hoyt, who has cerebral palsy, is quadriplegic and uses a wheelchair - but that has not stopped him competing in more than 1,000 races.

And that is thanks to his dad, Dick, who pushes, pulls and carries his son around triathlons, marathons, half-marathons and even 3,735 miles across the United States.

Rick, 57, and Dick, 75, from Massachusetts, USA completed their first event in 1977 with the Boston Marathon in 2014 their last race.

Tears on the track - a runner's tale

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Redmond's father helps him over line

"For a split second, I thought I'd been shot" - Olympic 400m medal contender Derek Redmond is describing the moment his hopes of glory at the Games were shattered.

The talented British runner was speeding towards the front in the semi-finals at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when he suddenly pulled up with a hamstring injury just past the halfway mark.

In emotional and physical pain, he collapsed on the ground as other athletes completed the race.

But determined to finish, Redmond got up and hobbled round before his father came out of the stands to help him over the line.

Saviour on the high seas

British sailor Pete Goss was taking part in the treacherous Vendee Globe solo around the world yacht race in 1996 when he received a distress call from Frenchman and fellow competitor Raphael Dinelli, whose boat was sinking in the Southern Ocean.

Goss turned his boat around and sailed for two days, battling to reach the stricken Dinelli, who he found in a freezing life raft, saving the Frenchman's life and nursing him back to health.

He eventually finished the race in 126 days and 21 hours, the fastest time by a British sailor.

For his actions, Goss was awarded a MBE and the Legion d'honneur by the French President.

Sport's power to unite

Nelson Mandela and Pienaar
Mandela presented the Rugby World Cup to Francois Pienaar, wearing the Springboks jersey

Twenty years ago, the Rugby World Cup served up an iconic sporting and political image.

Nelson Mandela handed South Africa captain Francois Pienaar the Webb Ellis Trophy after the Springboks' 15-12 victory over New Zealand on home soil.

Mandela, the political prisoner turned unifying president of a nation, was wearing a South Africa rugby shirt bearing the Springbok badge - a symbol previously reviled by non-whites in the country as it was so strongly identified with the apartheid era.

Feeling motivated? Visit the BBC Get Inspired website for exercise or sport hints and tips and an activity finder to help you find activities near you to improve your health and fitness.

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