CRAIG NELSON: The key to longevity for our sporting stars will always be failure
9:00pm Saturday 31st August 2013 in Sport
I HAVE come to the conclusion that us Brits just can’t quite cope with being winners.
Plucky underdog is what we know and love. Winning just doesn’t suit us.
Our sporting stars have aligned recently to such an extent that we just can’t seem to stop beating all-comers – you throw up a major sporting event and we will hit it out of the park.
From Team GB’s golden performance in the Olympics to Sir Brad and Chris Froome’s unheralded back-to-back victories in the Tour de France and our double grand slam champion Andy Murray.
Throw in successes for the British and Irish Lions and Europe’s Ryder Cup team and you would imagine the British public will be starting to come round to the idea that it’s ok to be the best.
But the backlash has already begun.
Just look at the reaction to our most recent Ashes triumph.
The England team of 2005, who ended an 18-year losing streak, were caught up in a wave of national euphoria, parting a sea of adoring fans as they crawled through the streets of London on an open top bus.
The fact the hero of the hour – Freddie Flintoff – was too drunk to have anything but sketchy memories of that life-affirming moment didn’t seem to matter.
Let’s be honest, he could have capsized a pedalo in the Serpentine and no-one would have batted an eyelid.
Eight years on and three Ashes victories later and the English players are persona non-grata following over enthusiastic celebrations at the Oval.
One of the major villains of the piece, Stuart Broad, was already in the doghouse for having the temerity not to walk when he had a strong suspicion he had nicked a ball caught behind.
Our cricket players have made the major faux pas of failing to follow the correct English sporting etiquette: be defiant in battle, humble in victory and gracious in defeat and, whatever the result, they will love you for it.
Break those rules and you will be thrown to the press hounds waiting to destroy what was once cherished.
In many ways, the key to longevity for our sporting stars has been and always will be failure.
By getting so far and then showing that stiff upper lip, or in Andy Murray’s and Paul Gascoigne’s cases a wobbly lower one, and pretty soon you will be a man, my son.
So, if Broad and the rest of his team-mates know what is good for them, there is only one course of action.
Keep a low profile, sail off Down Under with as little pomp and ceremony as you can realistically get away with then return heroic losers.
If you need any further advice, just ask the FA.