How far would someone go to be "Fan of the Year" of the New England Patriots?

How about driving 5 1/2 hours each way from his home in the Poconos for nearly every home game in the past 32 years?

That's what Swiftwater, Pa., resident Pat Noone has done to cheer on the Patriots at their homefield in Foxborough, Mass. He's only missed two games since 1975.

The team honored Noone for his loyalty at a ceremony at Gillette Stadium. Noone received the Joseph R. Mastrangelo Patriots "Fan of the Year" trophy in front of a crowd of about 70,000 before a game against Miami.

"It was so cool to be standing there on the field with a full stadium," Noone told the Pocono Record. "The whole experience was one of the highlights of my life."

Noone said he was nominated by a police officer from Norton, Mass., who happened to stop by a beer distributor where Noone once worked. The officer couldn't believe how many Patriots decorations there were, Noone said.

He should have seen Noone's house. Noone has a room that is a replica of the Patriots' locker room - complete with a urinal.


* Serena Williams recovered from the flu and will compete today in the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia, a tuneup before defending her Australian Open title. Williams had a hitting session yesterday and is expected to play today for the United States against the Czech Republic after missing the opening matches against India. She plans to take the week off before the Australian Open starts Jan. 14.

* Shahar Peer, of Israel, rallied to defeat American Julie Ditty, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, in a first-round match at the Australian women's hardcourt championships in Gold Coast, Australia In other first-round matches, Nathalie Dechy, of France, defeated Yan Zi, of China, 6-2, 6-2, and Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, defeated two-time Gold Coast champion Ai Sugiyama, of Japan, 6-2, 6-3.

Winter Sports

* Austrian Thomas Morgenstern had the best leap of the day in the second round to win the first stop of the prestigious Four Hills ski jumping tournament in Oberstdorf, Germany.

* Magnus Moan, of Norway, battled snowfall and strong wind to win a Nordic Combined World Cup event in Oberhof, Germany, edging American Bill Demong by 0.1 seconds in a photo finish.

Sport Stops

* Boxing superstar Oscar de la Hoya and Millie Corretjer announced the birth of their second child. Nina Lauren Nenitte de la Hoya was born Saturday in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

* Motherwell's next two soccer matches in the Scottish Premier League have been postponed following the death of captain Phil O'Donnell. Motherwell was set to play Hibernian on Wednesday and Celtic next weekend but the games were called off yesterday, a day after the 35-year-old midfielder died after collapsing during a match.

* Three-time Spanish Vuelta champion Roberto Heras has reportedly quit professional cycling after serving a 2-year ban for doping. The 33-year-old Spaniard - whose doping ban ended in October - said he received offers from cycling teams. However, under the sport's code of ethics, he cannot join a ProTour team for 2 more years. *