Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Late Late Show: Dramatic Endings in Sport

With one final kick of the ball, Manchester City's Sergio Aguero changed the course of football history on Sunday, and brought to a close one of the most gripping Barclay's Premier League seasons ever.  In fact, to find a comparable finish in English football history, one has to go back to the era before the Premier League existed, to 1989, when Arsenal needed a two goal victory on the season's final day to win the title over Liverpool.  As fate would have it, Michael Thomas scored the Gunners' second goal that day in the last minute of regulation time at Anfield. 

Although Sunday afternoon's goal was a stab through the heart of a true United fan such as me, one would be hard pressed to deny that it was dramatic; it may have been dramatically tragic, but it was dramatic nonetheless.

It got me to thinking about other dramatic endings in sport -- they are relatively few and far between.  In fact, I can think of only a very few endings in sport that I've personally witnessed that matched the gripping nature of this year's "Survival Sunday."

The first that springs to mind is the 1986 World Series, Mookie Wilson's spinning ball rolling right through Bill Buckner's legs and into Major League Baseball history, leading the New York Mets to a dramatic come from behind victory over the Boston Red Sox.  I was at the Big Shea that night, and I can still remember the upper deck bouncing underneath the delirious jumping, screaming and stomping of the Game Six crowd.

Christian Laettner's last second overtime buzzer-beater, which allowed Duke to knock of Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Quarter Finals, is up there, too.  I was actually supposed to be at that game, too, but family obligations meant that I ended up watching it on television. 

Princeton University's near upset of Georgetown University in the 1989 NCAA Basketball Tournament also ranks right up there in my book.  The Tigers, a lightly regarded #16 seed, nearly pulled off the greatest upset in College basketball history against the #1 seeded Hoyas; only a non-call by the referee right at the buzzer handed the victory to the heavy favorites.  I was at the game in Providence, and the misery I felt at the end was similar to how I felt Sunday night -- except Sunday night was even worse.

But for sheer drama, nothing will ever top the memory that is going to get me through the long off-season and sustain me until the new one begins.  Regular readers of this space will not be surprised by my choice, which I'll introduce only with the following words: "....And Solskjaer has won it!"   Enjoy, United fans. We'll always have the Camp Nou.

Enjoy, United fans.  We'll always have the Camp Nou.

This is farlieonfootie for May 16.

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