Sporting curses: Mayo’s run extends after All-Ireland football final loss to Dublin

Mayo feature in Coral's sporting curses.

Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | Updated October 1, 2016

5 Craziest sporting curses

Prior to the GAA All-Ireland football final between Mayo and defending champions Dublin on Sunday, September 18th and the replay on Saturday, October 1st, it was widely documented that the former are currently under a curse that dates back to 1951.

It is said that the Westerners, as they are nicknamed, were given the affliction by a priest after the victorious team over Meath 65 years ago failed to respect a funeral ceremony as they were passing through Foxford.

As a result, Mayo were cursed never to win the Sam Maguire trophy until every last member of that team passed on – currently just two more survive, Dr Padraig Carney and Paddy Prendergast.

The myth has certainly lived up to its legend, as the three-times champions failed to even reach a final until 1989, which was the first of seven they’ve lost in since.

Mayo certainly battled out a fierce and entertaining 0-15 to 2-09 (15-15) draw against Dublin at Croke Park recently, but lost the replay 1-14 to 1-15 (17-18), so their curse continues.

So, in light of Mayo’s hex from all those years ago, Coral pick out four other sporting curses…

Benfica (football)

Portuguese giants Benfica have had plenty of success domestically in recent years, and even won the Primeira Liga last season.

However, it is their record in Europe that has worried them since 1962, when then-manager Bela Guttmann said these words: “Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion.”

The reason behind it is that the Hungarian had just led the Eagles to two league titles, one Portuguese Cup and two European Cups, and when requesting a pay rise the club turned it down. Instead, his contract was terminated.

Ever since, Benfica have gone on to lose a whopping eight finals in Europe (five in the European Cup and three in the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League) – most recently in 2014.

Apparently, after Guttmann’s death and just before the 1990 European Cup against AC Milan, the late great Eusebio, who was signed by the Hungarian, even prayed by his grave and asked for the curse to end. Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Benfica went on to lose 1-0.

Chicago Cubs (baseball)

Over to America and Major League Baseball (MLB), the Cubs have been thwarted in winning a World Series ever since 1945, thanks to a man called Billy and his pet goat Murphy – we’re not even kidding!

The story goes that the duo were removed from game four of a World Series match against Detroit Tigers that year due to the goat’s bad smell, and Billy Sianis – to give him his full name – apparently declared: “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.”

He was right, as they went on to lose that World Series, and haven’t appeared in one since, and haven’t won in 108 years.

Chicago even came a game away from reaching the World Series in 2003, but their own fan Steve Bartman prevented a Cubs player from catching a ball when he went for it himself from the stands.

Relive the incredible moment in the above video.

Birmingham City (football)

Once of the spookiest curses has to go to English football team Birmingham, whose hex literally lasted the full 100 years from 1906 to 2006.

The club planned to move from Muntz Street to set up a new stadium on St Andrew’s, but were forced to evict Romani people from the land as a result.

They therefore placed the 100-year curse on the Blues, which led to managers such as Ron Saunders placing crucifixes on floodlights and painting the bottom of his players’ boots red and Barry Fry urinating in all four corners of the pitch in a bid to break the spell.

None of it worked but, when the curse ended in 2006, Birmingham amazingly went on to win the 2010/11 League Cup by beating Arsenal in the final.

It must be noted that they did win the same competition in 1963 against biter rivals Aston Villa, but lost three other cup finals in that period. They are still without any major trophies and their stadium was even bombed in 1941.

Arizona Cardinals (American football)

Back to America, this time in the National Football League (NFL), Arizona Cardinals have become known as holding the record for the longest championship drought, which has lasted since 1925.

That is all apparently because fans of Pottsville Maroons were so disgusted by their team’s suspension from playing, despite having a fine season, after organising an unauthorised exhibition match that they placed a curse on the eventual winners.

According to legend, the hex will only be lifted if the championship is returned to Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

The Cardinals have reached a Super Bowl, but lost the 2008 edition to another Pennsylvania outfit Pittsburgh Steelers, whose founder Art Rooney ironically was a supporter of Pottsville’s claims.


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