Thursday, 7 May 2009

Capital capitulation

I had hoped to wake up on Monday morning to find that the previous day had all just been a bad dream.

Unfortunately, Cardiff City’s seventh place in the Championship’s final league table stared blankly at me from my computer screen, an unforgiving reminder of Sunday’s monumental collapse.

With four games left in the season, the Bluebirds had automatic promotion in their sights but wilted under the pressure to succeed like a daffodil in a blast furnace.

They mustered just one point from a possible twelve, conceded twelve goals and threw away a golden chance of becoming a Premier League club.

Dave Jones' expression is rumoured not to have changed since May the 3rd.

As I searched desperately for reasons to be cheerful – well, a possible trip to Hull next season – I tried consoling myself by thinking of sport’s other spectacular capitulations.

“I would love it!” is the infamous Kevin Keegan quote which will forever be synonymous with the 1995-96 Premier League season and, in particular, dramatic self-destruction.

Despite being 12 points clear at the top in January, a jittery run-in saw Newcastle surrender the title to Manchester United.

The Magpies never truly recovered, and now face the ignominy of joining the legion of underachievers in English football’s second tier.

Eclipsing Newcastle’s capacity to crumble under pressure is quite a feat, and one that the English cricket team has repeated on numerous occasions.

Most memorably, the second test of the 2006-07 Ashes at Adelaide signalled not only the turning point of the series but also the end of the briefest of golden eras, ‘The Class of 2005’.

Having declared on a mammoth 551-6 in the first innings, the tourists were poised to level the series at 1-1 when they were 69-1 in their second innings.

Once Andrew Strauss fell to England’s perennial tormentor Shane Warne, however, they imploded to gift Australia an unexpected win and, with it, a platform for a crushing 5-0 series triumph.

When the Ashes start in July, I’ll be in Cardiff hoping that the England and Wales Cricket Board XI can upset Australia and, in the process, spark a collapse that I can actually enjoy.

As written for Leeds Student

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