The Mole was recently reminded by a friend who is a Spurs fan that for more than
60 years, every fan of Spurs – Tottenham Hotspur, the English football team – knew that no
matter how bad things were at White Hart Lane, it was only a question of waiting for the
year ending in the numeral 1 and things would be different.
The “Year ending in 1″ superstition came from FA Cup wins in 1901, 1921, 1981 and 1991; the League win in 1951; and the magic year of 1961 when Spurs were the first club in the 20th century to win the League and Cup double.
However, Spurs did not win the FA Cup in 1911, 1931, 1951, 1971 and 2001 (no competition in 1941 due to World War II). But how about this – since 1900, Spurs have won the FA Cup in years ending in “1″ unless in the preceding year:
- Arsenal or Chelsea win the FA Cup; or
- A Yorkshire club (other than Huddersfield Town) are the beaten finalists.
On the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the first three winners at Belmont Park in
New York were horses bearing the numbers 9, 1 and 1. Ironically, racing odds on this event were only a cumulative 9-1 – considerably lower than emotions would have suggested.
Czech Olympic legend Emil Zatopek was born on Sept. 19, 1922, the same day as Dana
Zatopkova. On July 24, 1952, Zatopek won a gold medal in the 5,000 meters, and Dana did the same in the javelin. They married and thus the triple coincidence was fulfilled as they married on the same day!
During the course of a month in 1965 Jack Nicklaus won the Masters, Willie Shoemaker rode the winner of the Kentucky Derby, the Celtics won the NBA title and the Canadiens lifted the Stanley Cup. Twenty-one years later, the 46-year-old Nicklaus’s win at Augusta presaged a repeat of the same successes: the Shoe, the Celtics with the NBA and the Canadiens winning the Stanley Cup all in ’86.
Sports fans have an inate mathematical ability, it comes with the territory. Even if they don’t
bet on the outcomes of their fanaticism they have a very good sense of what the prospects are in any given contest. Nevertheless, there are few citizens who are more superstitious than sports followers, in every country and thus very few who will not suspect that there could just be something in the following sequence:
In 1991, Australia beat New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup; in 1995 South Africa beat
Australia in the Rugby World Cup; in 1999 Australia beat South Africa in RWC; in RWC 2003 England beat Australia and in 2007 South Africa beat England.
Extraordinary though it may be, the winners of each successive Rugby World Cup have
beaten their predecessors.
On the basis of this pentagonal sequence, should we just ignore the outcome of this
weekend’s semi-finals, with the certainty that Australia have already inherited the mantle of
Champions of 2011 by their defeat of holders South Africa in their quarter final encounter?.
Were this to happen, then the Australian team may well consider thanking Ireland for their
fortune because, had the seeding gone to form, they would not have had the opportunity of
playing South Africa before their New Zealand rivals had the chance to do so in a semi-final.
So if Deans can lead the Green and Gold to triumph on Sunday, will it be fate or misfortune?
The All Blacks have suffered more injuries in the past five weeks in playing and training thanin the previous five months of their international season. Is there a finger to be pointed at their Strength and Conditioning team? Or is the weight of expectation transmitted by an
entire nation having a physical effect on the players? Seems strange, but the Mole has long come to accept that there’s nowt stranger than sport.
If it’s any consolation to Kiwis, the bookies don’t accept the sequence as inevitable and
despite the loss of Dan Carter and the prospect of a less than 100% fit McCaw, the AB’s are 4/6 and Australia 4/1 to take the trophy. So clearly, emotion and fate are on the side-line when it comes to the financial equation.
For the Mole, this one looks like one of the great coaching match-ups. Graham Henry has
the advantage of an Auckland Super 14 final victory against Deans’ Crusaders team in 2003 but Deans evened up the contest with his Tri-Nations success this year. Too close to call with any certainty, but just like the Spurs sequence, all sporting coincidences end at some point, and maybe the desire of the New Zealand nation will carry their wounded heroes into the final.