CRAIG NELSON: Sports teams curse their luck but is it more a case of excuses?
11:00pm Saturday 2nd November 2013 in Sport
BOSTON Red Sox – the American baseball team – sealed their first World Series win in front of their home fans for 95 years this week.
Their famous sporting drought was said to have started with the sale of star player Babe Ruth to rivals New York Yankees in 1920 – two years after their last World Series success.
That decision triggered what has since been dubbed the “curse of the Bambino”.
In British terms, the Red Sox wait is a bit like Manchester United not winning the Premier League title again this century – you can but dream.
It got me thinking about a number of other sporting droughts and what could be behind them, rather than pure ineptitude.
With all our British successes in recent times, however, there are not as many hard-luck stories as there used to be.
Until a few years ago it would have been fair to question England’s lack of Ashes glory, or Lancashire CC’s failure to win the championship.
My concern for England was that they were somehow being undermined by the lack of actual Englishmen playing in the team.
But look at them now. It doesn’t seem to matter how many South African or Irish-born players they field, or even that they are being led by a Zimbabwean, our national side is still better than Australia, and that’s all that matters.
As for Lancashire, the theory went that the weather was to blame, rather than the fact there were other counties better than them, as to why they had not won the league for more than 70 years.
Glen Chapple’s victorious side of 2011 disproved that theory, although the fact Old Trafford was being revamped and the county played most of their matches at either Southport or Liverpool during that summer has kept the conspiracy theory bubbling under.
Football is awash with talk of curses – or excuses as I like to call them.
Birmingham manager Barry Fry famously urinated in all four corners of the St Andrew’s pitch in a bid to overturn a reputed gypsy curse on the club that was stopping them from being promoted to the top tier.
It didn’t help him much, but the Midlands side have since made a few brief stopovers in the Premier League under less superstitious managers.
I wonder what “curse” Barry would have come up with if he was ever headhunted to be the England boss?
There are only two sixes in 1966, but I am sure he would have been able to find some devilish foul play at work to explain their sorry success rate in international competitions.
Maybe the FA should have invited him to anoint the new Wembley, just to be on the safe side.