Monday, 13 May 2013


Last minute goals, victories for the underdog, ridiculous circumstances no one thought would happen. The thing I love most about football is its unpredictability.

This weekend we watched two unpredictable ends to two important games. Wigan scoring in the 90th minute to beat top dogs Manchester City, winning the FA Cup for the first time in their history, followed the next day by the play-off semi-final second leg involving Watford and Leicester. A penalty and the follow-up saved at one end, and ten seconds later the ball in the net at the other end all in the dying seconds of the game.

Last gasp winners. Images: Sky News / Getty Images
It was fascinating to watch particularly the latter unfold. I don’t have any real affiliation to either Leicester or Watford, but I watched the events unfolding before my eyes with the hairs standing up on my arms, because this is what football is all about.

Watching both games made me remember, not for the first time, why I and millions of others are so engrossed in this sport. We go every week for moments like this. The underdogs beating a top team, not only in a competition as big as the FA Cup, but in the last minute to win the trophy like Wigan did is something special.

Being a Birmingham City fan I’ve experienced that moment with my own team; I could never forget Obafemi Martins scoring in the 89th minute to win us the League Cup against Arsenal, nor my first ever European away game against Brugge with Chris Wood scoring the winning goal in added time. And who could forget Stern John in the last minute at Villa Park?

Wembley Winners. Image: The Guardian
These instances don’t happen every week in football. Often you have to wait for wonderful, completely unscripted moments like last minute goals and unpredictable wins, but it’s worth the wait. The tough and grueling games you have to sit through to get there, the losses you suffer, the relegations you go through. The great moments make it all so worth it.

And when you're on the other end of it? I'm sure if you speak to any Leicester fan this week they'll tell you how much it hurts going from jubilation to complete despair. We've all been there, but it's the great moments, when you're the ones celebrating at the end, that make up for the heart break.

Although there will always be the Manchester Uniteds and the Arsenals of this world going for titles and Europe, and the same crop of teams battling relegation every season up and down the leagues, moments like this weekend just show that football is never completely predictable.

There will always be moments of magic, teams who take the script, rip it up and write a completely new one.

And the best thing? It happens in every league, in every competition. Wigan in the 90th minute to win the FA Cup, Didier Drogba equalising in the last minute to take the Champions League final to extra time, Brentford missing a penalty and Doncaster scoring at the other end to send them up as Champions, Martins to win the League Cup, Chris Wood to seal an away victory in Europe, Sergio Aguero to win the league.

Here’s to the teams who do the unthinkable, who threaten the top teams, who ruin bets, break hearts, make dreams come true. This is what makes football the greatest sport on earth.

"I swear you'll never see anything like this ever again"

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