Monday, December 09, 2013


There are, of course, many ways to ensure a good stuffing and defeat by an innings and plenty followed by another crushing defeat, this time by a mere 218 runs, seems to me to be a pretty comprehensive example of the art of serving up a stuffing in sport.   And yes, the cricket commentators, the sports journalists and the man on the Clapham omnibus are all engaged in ceremonial hand-wringing with emotions running raw from anger via humiliation and all the way to downright depression.   It`s all very predictable.

But let`s look at events on the cricket fields Down Under from a more positive point of view, even though in the process I might have to invoke the sports fan`s perennial refuge of straw clutching.  Now, in the Spring of 2003, ten years ago, Mrs. Snopper and I were on holiday in North Devon and one day we were walking up Hangman Hill on the coast near Combe Martin.  Near the top of the climb, we slumped down on a handily placed seat for a breather when along came a fellow pilgrim, who stopped and started chatting, as happens on the south west coast path.

Turned out he was an Arsenal fan and Southampton were due to meet Arsenal that coming Saturday in the FA Cup Final at Cardiff`s Millennium Stadium.  We had a little good humoured banter about the likely result and he told me that, in order to enjoy the winning, you first have to learn to lose.   And so it came to pass that Arsenal beat the Saints by 1-0 with a scruffy goal by Robert Pires. I didn`t enjoy that much, neither did I enjoy Southampton`s  later relegation down as low as the bottom of League One, minus 10 points.

But I have enjoyed the long climb back to a respectable position in the Premier League, more so because we learnt to lose in the dark recesses of those lower reaches and I often wonder how boring it must be to be forever winning, which may not only breed a certain arrogance but also an unseemly feeling of entitled superiority.  No wonder the steeped rows of Manchester United are showing all the signs of disquiet - they`re just not used to losing but maybe, like most of us, they`ll have to learn to accept it and get on with it.

So whilst, after a prolonged period of winning, the cricket Down Under may not be going our way right now, maybe we can take heart in the sure-fire knowledge that winning, when it comes around again on the cycle of life`s rich pageant, will be that much sweeter for having tasted a good old fashioned stuffing.  (I wonder if it ever rains in Perth?)

No comments: