It was Alan Partridge who suggested that post-match showers were intended to remove “the stench of defeat” from the vanquished. Many readers will have spent last Friday with the carbolic, as their carefully crafted efforts hit the spike with the force of a Johnny Metgod special. But as the noted thinker Dale Winton reminds us, you’ve got to be in it to win it.
Who joins those of us outside charmed circle in the Also Rans’ bar?
Horse Racing’s Also Rans are usually to be found inhabiting the inside of a Kit-e-Kat tin, but not the big, black, beautiful Crisp who defined sporting gallantry as he led for every stride but the last one in the 1973 Grand National. Richard Pitman puts it wonderfully well here http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/horse_racing/grand_national_2003/2889541.stm and none who witnessed it will ever forget it.
1996 and Newcastle are looking like they will actually hang on, actually win something, actually do it… then –
“When you do that with footballers like he said about Leeds... I've kept really quiet, but I'll tell you something: he went down in my estimation when he said that - we have not resorted to that. But I'll tell ya - you can tell him now if you're watching it - we're still fighting for this title, and he's got to go to Middlesbrough and get something, and... and I tell you honestly, I will love it if we beat them - love it.!”
Everyone has seen it a million times on youtube, so you can run the visuals in mind’s media player along with the pauses, the catch in the voice and the raucous laughter wafting over the Pennines. A rare example of a live performance every bit as funny when reduced to the written word – even Bill Hicks couldn’t pull that off.
Although one should never consider the Premiership as a competition separate to its previous life as the Football League Division One (a set of four words perhaps lost forever – the shame), Liverpool’s Also Ranness must be a concern for their new American owners, who possibly believed that a Champions League Winner might actually have won a Championship to qualify. They’ll soon find out that Also Ran status is no bar to entry to the most lucrative competition in Europe.
To the majority of Brits, Pou-Pou is a cheap laugh in Eurotrash (yeah, like there’s any other kind), but to the cycling cognoscenti, Pou-Pou means Raymond Poulidor, a man who finished on the Tour de France podium eight times, without ever hauling his saddle-sored, leathery bottom on to the highest step. He did console himself with the love of all France, which was rather more love than arch-rival (and five times Tour winner) Jacques Anquetil received. He had to make do with the love of his daughter-in-law and step-daughter, with both of whom he fathered children.
So, all things considered, us Also Rans of the Big Blogger competition may consider ourselves more Jade Goody than Shilpa Shetty, but sport has a happy way of compensating its less than leading lights with a different kind of fame – and, let’s face it, wouldn’t you rather stiffen your back and proudly proclaim yourself a follower of Espanol than a follower of Barcelona?