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I was considering which road to take this fortnight’s column down a month or so ago, and a little bit of inspiration seemed to hit me. It wasn’t in the form of a piece of sport writing, or something I saw on Sky Sports News, but an advert.
In history, the away team in Roses has been proven to be the underdog. But to me that is irrelevant, and a lot of you seem to the think the same thing too. Here is the narrative from that advert; hopefully you will be able to see why the words seemed to resonate to me so much.
“Here’s the thing that makes life so interesting. The theory of evolution claims that ‘only the strong shall survive.’ Maybe so, maybe so. But the theory of competition says: ‘Just because they’re the strong doesn’t mean they can’t get their asses kicked.’ See, what every long shot, come from behind, underdog will tell you is this: the other guy may in fact be the favourite – the odds may be stacked against you. Fair enough. But what the odds don’t know is that this isn’t a maths test. This is a completely different kind of test. One where passion has a funny way of trumping logic. So, before you step across that white line onto the pitch, before the whistle blows and the clocks start ticking just remember: out here the results don’t always add up. No matter what the critics may say and the union papers may think and the opposition may have predicted, when the race is on, all bets are off.”
Don’t be surprised if someone decides to flip the script and take a pass on yelling “I quit”. And then suddenly, as the old saying goes: “WE’VE GOT OURSELVES A GAME”.
In the 46 year history of the Roses tournament, an away victory has only happened eight times. Lancaster’s last one was in 1985 – and I’m pretty sure every participant this year wasn’t even born then. But why not make it nine times this year?
In the next two weeks there will be a lot of talk circulating your matches. Phase it out. There will be times when the training is really painful, but you mustn’t stop. And, on the weekend, the reception you will walk out to will be hostile and as anti-Lancaster as York can make it. What you will need to do is to drown out the noise and listen only to the support from the Red Rose.
But a Roses victory is not earned by one team or club, but a collective effort. We need to declare in one voice: “I am ready to fight. I am ready to win. I am Lancaster.”
Let’s bring the noise.