and went to the Saint Mary's stadium their home form suffered. The Dell was a claustrophobic little ground and the Saint's fans always made enough noise there to give every home game a Turkish style atmosphere. It was a tough place to go and win. Or a tough place to go "and get a result." So The Dell was known by the media then, somewhat inevitably, as "a fortress". St Mary's, that replaced The Dell, isn't a cramped ground however. It is rather nice and modern by all reports. The problem with nice is that it doesn't naturally bond with other adjectives like imposing, or intimidating, the kind of words you would like to associate with a home ground. If only the architects had considered this and instead of making an airy all-seater they would have wrought the stands from sheer granite, so the home end could hurl down rocks and boiling oil onto the visiting team. Then Saint Mary's could have really been like a fortress. As it was though the pleasant open plan atmosphere lent itself only to a string of poor home defeats for the Saints, in what was their new ground. Cue a stroke of genius from then manager Gordon Strachan. He decided his players were associating the new ground with bad luck, and that they missed The Dell, and called therefore, not for the sports psychologist to help them like you would sensibly expect, but for a Witch. A white witch. An emergency witch. And this white witch blessed the Saint Mary's ground, and blessed the players, and cast away the demons and pixies of bad luck. And while the Saints never did capture the sort of home form they had previously enjoyed at The Dell things did get an awful lot better. The blessing cum exorcism worked.
Right now, having watched two English teams crash out on penalties last night in the UEFA Also Ran's Cup (both having played well against good opponents) I would really like to call on the services of that white witch and ask her to lift another curse. The British Isles are obviously smite by the god of penalties. It certainly seems that way; that it is written in the stars that all clubs hailing from the British Isles will suffer nerves, bad luck, and on form goalies, when it comes to the cruelest and most dramatic of contest conclusions. So could this witch, or any witch, please come and clean the national psyche? Please.
I know many of you will be cynical about this. You do not believe in magic, or voodoo, or hoodoo. But, let me ask you this- was there anyone anywhere in Britain last night, or overseas, watching either Everton or Spurs, who did not think to themselves, "Oh no! Not penalties" when it came to penalties? Of course you thought that. We have been programmed by decades of tears and failure to think just like that. I am sure other nations do not get so excited, in fact I imagine the Germans look forward to it. I just knew what was bound to happen last night from before the first fateful kick. Even then I still had to watch it though- the sense of inevitability looming larger and larger. Multiply this sense of impending doom by all British fans watching and all that negativity has got to have an effect.
So- anyone know any reliable witches or sorcerers please? It is the only solution. If not we, as a nation, are condemned to live forever under the shadow and heartache that is 12 yards.