George Dearnaley

Cruel sting in the tail?

2008-09-05 04:15

George Dearnaley

I have been overwhelmed by the number of supporters of English Premiership football who are so excited that the league title will go down to the last game.

As a Manchester United supporter, I have been praying that it would be over ages ago - and although United are in the driving seat, I am one of those supporters who looks at every single possible omen, sign - call it what you will - to predict what will happen.

I won't reveal some of the thoughts in my head as I don't want to tempt the football Gods, but I guess this is as exciting as it gets for the neutrals, unless of course the two clubs played each other in the final game of the season - that would be spectacular.

I blame Nico the Liverpool fan. He sits near me in the office and has been saying it will go down to the last game of the season and Chelsea will win!

I laughed at him two months ago, and every week since then my laugh has got softer and in the last few weeks, it has turned into a snarl of contempt. Why are the football Gods listening to him? Did they not hear my fervent prayer that Newcastle would score three goals and beat Chelsea? Did they not hear my silent wish that Avram Grant would rest his top 30 players ahead of the Champions League final?

Various permutations

Yes I am biased. I admit it. I am a United fan, and for those who don't know - I have been supporting them since 1976 when they were muck. I have a very proud record of watching United 'live' including 52 matches at Old Trafford, and only seeing them lose twice (Arsenal at home 1986, Chelsea away 1990). This includes my trip to Rotterdam in 1991 to see them beat Barcelona in the Cup Winners Cup final.

I now find myself planning my trip to Moscow for the big match on May 21 and thinking of all the various permutations I will face the day after the match. Drunk and delirious in Red Square! Or drunk and disconsolate in Blue Heaven?

If United win the league (please!) then at least I go to honour them and a win in the Champions League final is a bonus (I keep telling myself). But should they throw the league title away (don't listen to me football Gods!), then I am not sure I will be strong enough to handle defeat in Moscow.

"It's only a game", say those who know little. It's not. It's the difference between walking tall with a broad grin for June and July or skulking around the place trying to find excuses for a season that could all end in tears.

But it could be worse. You could be begging the Gods for one decent result that sees your team playing Premiership football next season. Or you could be an Arsenal supporter! All that great football for nothing - and I don't mean to sound sarcastic here. They were superb this season, but football can be cruel. I'm praying for no twists and a red tint to the end of the season.

  • George represented South Africa during the 1994 Soccer World Cup qualifiers.

  • Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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