What with the meltdown on Sunday, and the somewhat-less-meltdowny-but-still-dispiriting loss yesterday, I got to thinking. Which is always dangerous, but anyway. What is the most dispiriting loss you have seen in person, in any sport? We've all seen a million of 'em on TV, but actually being there is something completely different.
Mine was in Cardiff, Wales. The 2001 FA Cup final was a fantastic day - my friends and I made it to Cardiff from London in reasonably sober shape, the sun was out, and as soon as we got off the train we found the red half of the pubs in town (well, the Arsenal-red half anyway). We had a couple beers, then I headed out to find a ticket from one of the many local touts. I found a fantastic ticket - front row, second tier, section M19 - as it turns out, right above the goal Arsenal would be attacking in the second half. I paid...a lot...of money for this. But it was worth it.
For the 30 minutes I was in my seat before kickoff, I sat there terrified that a ticketholder with a ticket that would prove mine was a counterfeit would show up; nobody did, so once the match kicked off, I relaxed a bit. Arsenal played really well in the first half, and the match went into the break scoreless but Arsenal were looking the most likely to score.
It all kicked off in the second half, though - Thierry Henry had a couple of fantastic chances that he didn't convert, but then with about 20 min left in the match Freddie Ljungberg scored for Arsenal. GAME ON. I turned to high-five the guy sitting next to me, who had no idea what a high-five was, so he grabbed me in a big bear hug and danced around like a madman. It was awesome.
Then, disaster of disasters. Michael Goddamned Thank Fuck His Team Was Relegated That Bunch Of Twats Owen scored, equalizing with under 10 mins to go. Fine, whatever, Arsenal were more or less solid defensively so I was OK with extra time and penalties.
But NOOOOOOO. That damned little midget did it again in the 87th minute, scoring low and wide past David Seaman to win the Cup for the Kop. Or something.
And then what did I do? I sat there and watched. I listened to the transplanted Kop sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" for 10 solid minutes, which would have been awe-inspiring had I not been so angry; I watched Ljungberg and Tony Adams pick a sobbing Thierry Henry up off the Millenium Stadium pitch to collect his second-place medal. I watched all the Arsenal players and staff collect their medals. I watched Liverpool collect theirs, I watched them lift the Cup, and I watched them celebrate. Why? Because I may never get to a Cup final again in my life, and as much as it was a hot knife to the eyeballs, I wanted to take it all in. My friends, all Arsenal season-ticket holders for years, couldn't believe I watched the whole thing, but I had to.
So that's my story. What's yours?