Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Highs and Lows in Sport....

We've all been there, in various forms of sport, whether its a rags to riches tale, a home-grown success story [ie Andy Murray at Wimbledon], Record breakers [Schumacher in Formula 1, Sir Chris Hoy in successive Olympic Games, Sampras Grand Slam record from Tennis], or whether it be a pitcher throwing a perfect game in baseball, to be watching / associated with it is pretty special. It might only be bettered by being the one that is actually doing it.

Some selective Sports Highs for me

Football League Cup - Aston Villa took on Manchester United at Wembley stadium and performed  out of their skin to win by a 3 goals to 1 margin, and as a 7 year old I was extremely happy watching it on the television. Little would I know that be the last thing they'd ever win since I was born [I'm not counting 1996 here as I don't remember anything about it, but it did happen].  While it was great to see things are very different now and what could have been with a couple of different decisions, who knows ? [I'll get to that at another time though].

2007,2013 Boston Red Sox winning World Series' and being best in the world [ as far as they can be]. 2013 was more recent, and I can recall watching their entire run unfolding thinking, no matter how far down this team get, they never seemed to be out of any game [Post season Grand slams proved this to be one reason why]. [Of Course, they had pitching back then] so this wasn't difficult ! Their most recent triumph in franchise history, might never be bettered on an emotional level for me [except maybe if I was there], as when they sealed the 27th and final out against St Louis, in Game 6 - Fenway Park, Boston Massachusetts - I was sitting in a couch in New Jersey USA [in a Phillies household] and a baseball novice. We will always have that together, thanks for being part of it guys, you made it extra special !

2014/15 - New England Patriots Super Bowl campaign. With many lows in the early part of the season, The Patriots looked devoid of talent, they looked finished and many were questioning whether it was time to give up, move on and introduce Jimmy Garoppolo. There have been many Tom Brady backups over the year [most famous of all, Matt Cassell] but it's crazy how Jimmy has as many Superbowl Rings as Peyton Manning. Anyhow, but for a bit of begging to switch defensive match ups, and some rookie pluck from Malcolm Butler, this might never have happened where as time was running down, the ball on the half yard line, instead of unleashing Beast Mode, the Seahawks elected to pass, and Butler intercepted it in the goal line. What followed was an offsides penalty, moving the ball 5 yards, than a 15 yard penalty [with an ejection] and from the grimmest and most perilous of positions, the Patriots supporters' suddenly had another victory to celebrate and one which they will never forget.

FA Cup Semi Final - Aston Villa faced Liverpool in an encounter the Claret and Blue were probably expected to lose given what each club has spent over the past few years in recruitment of new players, however, Tim got them playing well, playing with freedom, and it appeared a bit of pride and they held out in a 2-1 victory to get to the FA Cup Final ! Euphoria [well for Villa fans it was]. At that moment, life couldn't get much better [as we shortly found out] but us Villains had something to talk about other than #LambertOut.

Unfortunately, here are the lows.

2004,2007 New England Patriots number is called by the Giants of New York, and in 2007, a perfect season was denied via the helmet catch [which one could argue was a trap, but that's not for me to say]. Anyway, having lost to a 'fail mary' on the dying seconds, the same situation occurred again with the Patriots down by 3 with seconds remaining. This game could also be remembered for the sitting down Touchdown. Either way the end result was the same, and the Giants knocked over the Patriots for the second straight game, and coming off the back off recent Red Sox success, this game hurt Patriots nation the globe over and in one way, reminded us in life, we shouldn't expect to win all the time, and in sports, it is occasionally OK to cry.

2014 Fifa World Cup - England crashing out at the group stage. I wasn't all that bothered that England went out of the cup,[although I cared a bit ] it was more the manner in which they went out of it. Tired, boring, one dimensional football which saw defeats to Italy [although a pretty good performance] and Uruguay meant not even a win over Costa Rica could see them advance, but they couldn't even manage to do that. 1 point, 2 goals scored, 4 conceded. Need a new direction? We'll see. I think maybe a manager that is a great motivator, and isn't afraid to drop players, perhaps we can tempt Mourinho when a change is made ? The shocking campaign, made me simulate and take charge of an England team in the world cup using proper tactics, and players being played where they were meant to be played, and not taking those played out of position in the real thing. I got them to win it, then win the following European Championships [coming up in 2016 in reality] although I couldn't replicate 3 in a row [done by Spain in the 2000s] and if you're reading, Head of the FA, I'm available should you need a new manager !

And finally:

2015 Fifa Womens' World Cup - A sensational tournament [at least by previous years] in which I was captivated by every match, and I can tell that the women's' game isn't all about the money, unlike the mens, in which players move clubs for over £40m, I'm pretty sure it would be nice to have that cash available in the women's' game, much less be able to throw it away on one player. It was all about the game and the players, which is great to see, and the Lionesses should be proud of themselves for achieving history and making their first semi final ! To lose in the way they did wasn't deserved [to anyone] much less the better team throughout much of the semi final, and to see Laura Bassett [arguably player of the tournament] put through her own goal, on a defensive instinct, 99 times out of 100 would go harmlessly out for a corner kick, she must feel so terrible, while in other sports there is a saying. Hopefully next year, with a world cup, it hurts more because next year doesn't exist being a 4 year cycle, and to all the lionesses, I thank them for playing with pride, playing with good energy, playing with commitment and fighting spirit. I'm so proud of them all, and I hope to go one step further [maybe 2 by winning] in 2019, but I will also look forward to the 2017 European Championships with a renewed sense of pride. [Should any of them ever see this] #ThankyouLionesses ! It's been an emotional ride, but one for the better !

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