Our sporting horror stories this Halloween

After Leicester’s nine-goal evisceration of Southampton, so appropriately close to everyone’s favourite spookfest, we thought it would be an opportune moment to look back at similar sporting nightmares.

The first footballing freak show that springs to mind, for the obvious reasons, and because I feel sorry for Southampton, is their 2014 dismantling of a sorry Sunderland team. The result actually flattered Sunderland on the day, with the procession being kickstarted by Santiago Vergini catching a dropping ball perfectly on the volley…. Into his own bottom corner. This was followed by two more Sunderland own goals on top of five Southampton strikes to compound the travelling fans misery. Fun midway point to a ten-hour round trip!

When talking about footballing farces, it would be remiss of me to not mention my team, Reading FC, who in their long history have spent three seasons in the top flight, all of which during my lifetime. This means that recently, they have been better than any point during their history but still have managed to serve up some pretty scary moments.

Personally, the cherry on top would have to be the time my dad and I took an evening out of our holiday to go and watch a cup game against Peterborough. To add context Reading would go on to have a decent season and finish 8th in the Championship that season, with Peterborough just making the League One Playoffs. We lost 6-0. We knew it would be a long night when Assombalonga beat Federici at his near post early on, but no-one could have predicted the rout that ensued.  More recently Reading also managed to concede 6 first-half goals to Norwich but it would embarrass me too much to go into detail.

Sporting horror-stories can come in all shapes and sizes too, it doesn’t have to be a hammering in an individual game. Take poor Australian golfer Greg Norman who blew a six-shot lead in the 1996 Augusta National to Nick Faldo, the photo of Norman on his knees becoming infamous forever more. 

Another notorious case of capitulation, (or bottle job if we’re being impolite,) would be Newcastle United’s 1995/96 season where they stormed up to a ten-point lead by Christmas, extending to 12-points by February. This all came crashing down around them as they allowed a run of five defeats from eight games for Manchester United to end up eventual winners by four points.

We then have the examples of teams across the world with slightly unwanted records, those who have practiced all week, built up to the game, ready to give their all, and then end up on the receiving end of a world record defeat…

In 2003, it was a chance for Namibia to showcase their skills to the rugby world. They were up against Australia in one of the marquee games in their history, only to end up being blown away for 22 tries and 142 points for no reply. Ouch. 

I can’t go into too much detail for English cricket’s woes throughout the years, it would be slightly too traumatic. However, it would be daft not to mention their ongoing struggles playing in Australia. Many of these chilling stories have been one off events, scarier in the sense of something lurking around the corner, followed by a sudden and brutal hammering in the vein of the Conjuring. I would relate the Ashes down-under more to something akin to the Final Destination series. English cricket down-under has seen many careers come and go like lambs to the slaughter in the heat. 

Among the tales of on field woe, lets spare a thought for the fans that had their own little nightmares, luckily not coinciding with their teams’ antics. A pair of Liverpool fans were looking forward to traveling to watch their team face off against Genk in the Champions League. Liverpool ran out 4-1 victors, so all was well, only the fans were watching it in a bar…. In Ghent. They bought train tickets and a hotel room in the wrong city. Impressive. 

While you’re sat there laughing at other teams’ misery, just remember, your team could be next….

Happy Halloween!

By Michael Vince

Photo credit: Thomas Rodenbücher via Wikipedia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *