Sunday, May 21, 2006

Top 10 Premature Celebrations

1 Arsenal’s Champions League Parade
Thursday’s Highbury to Islington Town Hall route had already been ordained; yellow signs had been posted to warn off non-Arsenal fans; the open-topped bus had been booked and a podium built for Arsène Wenger to parade the Champions League trophy to his adoring throng. Come Thursday, Islington was eerily quiet, the silence broken only by council employees dismantling a podium.

2 Australia’s splash
Australia's women brilliantly won the 4x200m freestyle relay at the world swimming championships in 2001. In fact, Petria Thomas was so chuffed she jumped back into lane seven to thrash around with joy. Over in lane five, however, the Italians had not yet finished. The Australians were disqualified by what their coach claimed was a “kangaroo court”. It was only following the koala rules, set by wallaby judges.

3 Lindsey Jacobellis’s tumble
Leading the 2006 Olympics snowboard cross at a canter, Jacobellis decided to climax with one last show-off: a hyper-difficult board-grab. She landed on the edge of her board and tumbled over, allowing Switzerland’s Tanja Frieden to take gold and relegating Jacobellis to silver. “I messed up,” she shrugged. “Oh well. It happens.”

4 Nigel Mansell’s wave
The last lap of the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix. Nigel Mansell was so far ahead that he waved to the crowd to celebrate a glorious victory over his Brazilian arch-rival Nelson Piquet. Alas, in the process, the rather bulky Brummie accidentally switched off his Renault-Williams engine and stalled the car. He finished sixth, behind even Bertrand Gachot.

5 The US basketball team’s time-out
In the 1972 Olympic final, the Americans went Cold War crazy when they led 50-49 with three seconds remaining and a time-out was called. As the Americans toasted their 63rd successive victory, the Soviet Union swept down court, Alexander Belov made a basket and his team took gold. The Americans childishly refused to accept their silvers.

6 Don Fox’s conversion
With seconds remaining in the 1968 rugby league Challenge Cup final, a drenched Wakefield Trinity scored a heart-stopping try. A simple penalty conversion in front of the posts would secure them the “watersplash” final over Leeds. Exuberant Trinity fans celebrated as man of the match and dead-eye boot Don Fox stepped up. To their horror, Fox sliced the ball wide, handing victory to Leeds. As Fox squelched off, the very apotheosis of dejection, Eddie Waring uttered the immortal words: “He’s missed it. The poor lad.”

7 Annika Sorenstam’s chip
In 2000, the Solheim Cup at Loch Lomond was going rather well for Europe and Annika Sorenstam. On the final day she chipped in for birdie at the 13th and celebrated wildly. Until the Americans pointed out she had played out of turn and the shot had to be replayed. She missed.

8 Clive Thomas’s whistle
Brazil were hugely relieved when Zico headed home a last-second winner against Sweden in their 1978 Group C game. They danced the samba, pretended it was carnival and lived up to every national stereotype, until referee Clive Thomas announced that he had already blown for time.

9 Roger Loughran’s whip salute
With the recently turned professional Irish jockey Roger Loughran aboard, Central House led as he passed what the rider thought was the winning post at last year’s prestigious Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown. Loughran stood up and raised his whip to salute the crowd, but he hadn’t won, he had passed a mere post, rather than the actual winning post. Central House finished third and Loughran was banned for 14 days, presumably for stupidity

10 Michael Knighton’s ball juggling
To celebrate his takeover of Manchester United in 1989 for £20m, Michael Knighton “entertained” the Stretford End at Old Trafford with a display of ball-juggling that would have put Ralph Milne to shame. Tragically (for Knighton, if not United), Knighton’s backers, perhaps unable to take him seriously, pulled out of the deal and soon he was on his way to Carlisle United.


Anonymous Rob said...

You missed the greatest ever!

Ac Milan players, Chav$ki, Mancs and Blueshite fans all round the globe celebrating at halftime :D

Anonymous Anonymous said...


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