Saturday, 23 September 2017

5 of the most famous sporting curses

What hexes and hoodoo have plagued the pitches, courts and sportsmen around the world?

5 of the most famous sporting curses
The Gentleman

It’s been 108 years, but the Chicago Cubs have done it – broken one of the sporting world’s most infamous and long-running curses by winning the World Series.

The curse itself has its roots in 1945, when the Cubs hadn’t won for 37 years already. Little did the fans know that they’d have to wait another 71 years to win again, and little did they know that a goat may be to blame.

During the last World Series the Cubs contested, in 1945, bar owner Billy Sianis was removed from Wrigley Field because he pet goat, Murphy, smelt so bad.

“Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more,” exclaimed Sianis upon his ejection – and the curse seemed to stick, until last night saw the series come to a dramatic conclusion when the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians.

But what other curses plague the various fields, courts and rinks upon which professional sport is contested? What other hexes and hoodoo exist on the pitch?

5 of the most famous sporting curses

Birmingham City F.C.

Birmingham City F.C. reportedly suffered a 100-year curse, from 1906 to 2006. Legend says that in the early 20th century, the club moved from Muntz Street to it’s current location at St Andrew’s – building their new stadium on land populated by the Romani people.

The Romani, angered by being made to move, allegedly put a 100-year curse on the club. The curse became ingrained into the club, and many managers took it overly seriously. Ron Saunders, during his tenure as manager during the 1980s, placed crucifixes on floodlights, and painted the bottom of players’ boots red in an attempt to break the curse.

Barry Fry, manager of the mid-90s, urinated in all four corners of the pitch after a clairvoyant told him it would break the spell. However, on Boxing Day 2006, exactly 100 years after the curse was set, Birmingham beat Queens Park Rangers. Four years later, the side won their first major final – the League Cup – in history.

5 of the most famous sporting curses

The Crucible Curse

In snooker, the ‘Crucible Curse’ hangs over the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield – the site of the World Snooker Championship since 1977.

The curse refers to the fact that no first-time winner of the World Snooker Championship has successfully defended his title since the event was first held at the Crucible and, of the 17 first-time champions in this era, only two have even made the final the following year.

This ‘curse’ may not be limited to the Crucible, however, as in all Championships of the modern era – since 1969 – all first-time champions failed to get to the final the next year.

5 of the most famous sporting curses

The Curse of the Bambino

The ‘Curse of the Bambino’ may be the most famous of all. A superstition evolving from the failure of the Boston Red Sox baseball team to win the World Series for 86 years, the misfortune began after the side sold celebrated star player Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1919.

Attempts across the years to exorcise the curse have included placing a Boston cap atop Mount Everest, burning a Yankees cap at the same mountain’s base cap, hiring professional exorcist Father Guido Sarducci to purify Fenway Park and retrieving a piano from the lake into which Babe Ruth had pushed it many years earlier.

The frenzy around the curse reached fever pitch when there were discussions about exhuming the body of Babe Ruth in 1994, but just a decade later it was declared broken when a foul ball hit by a Sox player struck the face of a boy sitting in the Fenway Park stands. The boy, it transpired, lived on the very farm that Babe Ruth had owned.

5 of the most famous sporting curses

The Curse of Ramsey

More recently, the ‘Curse of Ramsey’ has been coined as an explanation for why, within hours of Welsh footballer Aaron Ramsey scoring, a high profile celebrity dies.

From Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gadaffi, Steve Jobs and Whitney Houston, to Robin Williams, David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Nancy Reagan, Ramsey’s right foot has been blamed for upwards of 12 deaths, and was even eyed as a factor in causing Brexit.

After sustaining a hamstring injury during Arsenal’s season-opener against Liverpool, Ramsey has been out of action for three weeks. But, with his eyes firmly on the pitch again, our national treasures better keep their eye on the ball…

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