An entire Saturday and Sunday without witnessing a minute of live sport on TV: this is a rarity for us. From England’s game on Friday night (a 5-0 win at home to the Czech Republic) until the second half of this evening’s 5-1 win in Macedonia, I spent nearly 72 hours without seeing a kick, pass or goal. I could have made more of an effort to see at least part of the Republic of Ireland game against Gibraltar on Saturday (a 1-0 win) but just checked for updates on my phone instead.
The past two weekends have featured two very different hat-tricks, one that was welcome and one that was distinctly unwelcome. The welcome hat-trick, on Friday night, was Raheem Sterling’s for England in that victory over the Czech Republic. He’s a player I enjoy watching and he is having his best season so far, for Manchester City and England.
By contrast a hat-trick of sporting results the previous Saturday (16 March) went as badly as they could have for the teams I follow. It all began with a Leeds United defeat at home to Sheffield United in the lunch-time kick-off, 1-0 in a game where the opponents had just one shot on target. A win would have left Leeds 5 points clear of the Sheffield team in the top two. A draw would have left Leeds 2 points clear, and still in the top two. The defeat meant that Leeds are now a point behind, in third place, with an inferior goal difference. Since December last year I have been posting occasional pieces on this Blog recording the state of the Championship table, such as this one, appropriately called “Enjoying it while it lasts”. As I noted in this piece on Christmas Eve (when Leeds were top of the Championship), for the last 10 seasons the team leading the way at Christmas has been promoted to the Premier League. It feels like Leeds might be about to break that run.
The Leeds game was followed immediately by Ireland’s rugby team playing in Wales. A win would have given them a chance of winning the Six Nations, although having lost to England on the tournament’s opening weekend Ireland were not in a position to win the Grand Slam. Approaching the last minutes of the game Ireland were 25-0 down and only a belated try and conversion gave the score a slightly more respectable look. Almost exactly a year earlier, on St Patrick’s Day, Ireland beat England at Twickenham to win the Grand Slam, as mentioned here. This year it was Wales’s turn to win every game. Fair play to them.
Finally, to round off a miserable afternoon of sport, Kilkenny lost their Allianz Hurling League relegation play-off to Cork, of all teams. Kilkenny won the League last year (as mentioned in this piece from April last year), which gives us something to look back on, but relegation seemed unthinkable at the start of the month.
As enjoyable as Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick was for me, it hasn’t done much to lift the gloom from the previous weekend’s trio of bad results.