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Soup of This Day #283: To Walk Away From Something When It’s Dead

January 10, 2013

Ski jump
The dizzying view down a ski jump. Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards would have had a similar perspective during the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. He’d just missed out on the British downhill racing team and so chose to take up ski jumping. His cause was surely hopeless – He was a novice, weighed 9kg (20 pounds) more than his heaviest opponent and had to wear 6 pairs of socks because his boots were too large. He was also in danger of being lost as he was substantially farsighted and he needed to wear thick glasses at all times – They fogged up during jumps. Still he competed and finished a creditable 57th of 57 in his 1st event – It was credible because he didn’t die. In his 2nd event he improved to 56th out of 57 – The other guy was disqualified – Photo: Reywas92, 2008. Reywas92 is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Saint Jude is the patron of lost and hopeless causes. If I was of the praying kind I’d be ringing his pager on a regularly basis – He’d surely have a pager as they are the comms device of choice for those in the business of un-dooming the failure.

I reckon Saint Jude watches cancelled shows on Betamax as well. Maybe he can tell me what happens to Automan?

Even if he can’t, he’d be my saint – Because I believe in lost and hopeless causes. Which I guess means that I think they’re not necessarily really that lost and nor are they altogether hopeless. Come to think of it, knowing that there is a saint appointed to get stuck in to them makes me wonder if any cause truly is lost and hopeless – Surely by having Jude on the job there is hope and therefore there is no crusade too hopeless. Which in turn means that Saint Jude is really the patron of causes that look lost and hopeless but really are helpfully located and have a degree of spiritual oomph backing them up so as to inspire expectations of success.

‘Crusade’ is probably a poor choice of word. They’ve not always been overly successful.

Causes that just look lost and hopeless but turn out otherwise are the salt that flavours the soup of sport. I happen to write about that kind of soup so the theme of this post shall be the briny trawl for a submerged wanton with nary a hint that there is 1 left in the broth.

Let’s drag and dip…

I’ve written a number of times before about the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 American League Championship Series (ALCS) so I won’t go into too much detail here. All that anyone needs to know in the context of this soup is that the Sox were down 0-3 and 3-4, with just the 3 outs remaining in the potentially deciding Game 4 against arch-rivals, the New York Yankees.

That’s lost…

You could not get more lost if you were plunked down in the middle of the Gobi Desert without a map and never having been there before. At least in that latter scenario you’d have a panoply of stars to guide you. The Red Sox by contrast had a bunch of idiots.

A bunch of idiots that grafted their way level in that Game 4, before blasting off for the win to add some respectability to their ALCS efforts. They then won Game 5. And Game 6, before, with gravity-like momentum, they took Game 7 and the ALCS at Yankee Stadium.

Then there’s the 2005 Champions League Final in which Italian giants A.C. Milan lead England’s Liverpool FC 3-0 at half-time. The Milanese were good value for the advantage – It could have been bigger, as Liverpool had looked like a badly disorganized flock of lost sheep in the 1st stanza – Outclassed and outplayed, they would need to turn around their form as well as that 3 goal deficit. Saint Jude would at least have been impressed by the Merseysider’s travelling support who were boisterously singing that they were going to win 4-3 – A seemingly defiant prediction that even they must have doubted. I surely did – I was just hopeful for a single goal to redress some of the imbalance.

Oh me of little faith.

Early in the 2nd half, Liverpool scored 3 goals in 6 of the most astonishing minutes of football you could ever witness. Now level, they then engaged in a tense wrestle with the Italians for the remainder of the 90 minutes of regulation time, followed by 30 minutes of extra time. Unable to be separated via open play, a penalty shoot-out ensued and the red men from Anfield prevailed by 3 penalties to 2 – Liverpool had risen, as 1 commentator memorably put it, like Lazarus from the dead.

I think he meant Lazarus of Bethany, who Jesus brought back to life. As opposed to Lazarus, the Bishop of Milan, who died in 449 and has quite probably been very dead ever since.

None of that was the inspiration for this post. Instead it was the Perth Glory Women, who this Saturday just past, The Noah and I saw play against the Newcastle Jets at Intiga Stadium, here in Perth, Western AUstralia.

It was potentially a landmark encounter – A Perth win would see the Glory Women qualify for the finals for the 1st time and it would be a home final to boot. Given that the home side had not lost in Perth this term and that they had walloped Newcastle 6-1 in the away fixture earlier this year that was hardly a hopeless outcome.

Which is probably why the Jets scored 1st and looked the far more settled outfit early on.

The goal from Emily Van Egmond in the 3rd minute saw the lanky star scythe through a defence that gave her too much freedom, allowing a curling shot from just inside the area. New Glory keeper Kaitlyn Savage could do little but pick the ball out of her net – Not a great way to start your campaign with a fresh club.

Fortunately though, her opposite number let the local side back into the game in the 22nd minute after a horror back-pass mix-up saw Rosie Sutton slip past the last line to score into an unguarded net. It was ample reward for a Glory side that had started to threaten and in particular for midfielder Aivi Luik who toiled in the 1st half heat.

Those hot conditions may have played a part in the Glory’s centre-back stalwart Sasha Andrews being forced off before half-time. This created a few problems for a makeshift defence and there were some nervous moments either side of the break. Sarah Carroll at right-back maintained her cool throughout though and her control and movement kept the Glory attacking down that flank.

Ultimately the best cure for defensive instability is to score a goal, preferably via a defensive instability in the other team. Katie Gill was able to do just that – A poor clearance from Jets keeper Eliza Campbell saw Gill slot home a clinical strike in the 56th minute to complete the comeback. From there the Glory looked comfortable, cruising to the finals.

In much the same way that the Yankees had looked comfortable, cruising to a World Series.

Yep, Newcastle came back – Too much space in the area for Jasmin Courtenay saw her equalise in the 77th minute. That was to be it for the match – Like Liverpool and A.C. Milan there was nothing to separate the 2 sides at the end of regulation time and the Perth team will need to win this weekend to have another crack at a home final.

Glory skipper Collette McCallum was pretty reflective after the match:

‘We just didn’t turn up to play today.’

It kind of looked that way too. There were a number of instances where a dispossessed Glory player took the time to throw up her hands in frustration, before stomping grumpily back towards the play. That’s understandable – It was a hot day and in those kinds of conditions you conserve your efforts. Chasing hopeless balls is wasting energy best scrimped away for when it can be used to maximum effect.

The thing is though, that champion teams chase lost balls and hopeless causes. They run the hard yards and they do so powered by the energy others expend on throwing hands in the air and scuffing angrily at the turf. Perth didn’t do that and while that might not have contributed to the disappointing result, it was a sign that maybe their heads weren’t in the game.

The last word for this post goes to The Noah, who patiently (mostly) watched the game with his Dad. This morning The Noah walked with his Mum to the doctor’s surgery. On the way he found a rock that he liked – His Mum got him to leave it by a signpost. I took him home in the car and he insisted on us walking back to get the rock. I almost said no but then remembered that some times lost and hopeless causes are worth doing, even if the payoff is a chunk of limestone.

Maybe The Noah should be my patron – After all he shares a name with a guy who once had to build a boat that could hold 2 of every animals throughout a flood. Given that there is an estimated 8.7m species on Earth, that is some hopeless cause.

Meanwhile I’m the proud owner of a new paperweight at work. It’s made of limestone.

To Walk Away From Something When It’s Dead

One Comment
  1. I miss Eddie The Eagle. I miss my World Cup Skiing…and the Ski Jumping as well. Don’t get me started. Oops, already am. Universal Sports Channel was on our cable system for years until they decided to start charging an arm and a leg for cable carriers to carry it. At least an arm and a leg in the eyes of the carriers, which is ironic if you’ve seen any cable bills recently. Anywayyyyy…the best part is all this went down as Comcast bought NBC/Universal…and my cable provider is Comcast. In short, it is about one division of a company feeling the other is overcharging for content. The big losers…anyone who wanted to follow global Winter Sports. This will be the second WInter without these events to watch. I’d like to chuck a paperweight at whomever executives make these kind of decisions…limestone will do just fine.

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