With the Tyne-Wear derby leaving Newcastle fans in absolute dismay for the sixth time running, Alex Hendley, Matt Larkin and Gabriel Pennington thought it only apt to talk about other seemingly one-sided rivalries over the past decade.
Burnley vs Blackburn Rovers
14th April 1979. Before 2014, that was the last time Burnley had managed to beat their east Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers at a simple game of football.
In that time, the Clarets had to witness Rovers become champions of England and endure eleven games without a taste of victory. For years the Claret and Blue Army looked up towards their bitterest of enemies sitting in prettier leagues and winning titles, only earning the right to even play the men in stripes every once in a blue moon.
In 2009 the Burnley boys broke into the big time and enjoyed a season in the Premier League, beating the likes of Manchester United, but again falling foul to two more derby defeats.
However, 2014 came and under the saviour Sean Dyche’s management, Burnley’s Jason Shackell and Danny Ings wrote themselves into history, scoring legendary goals at Blackburn’s own Ewood Park to give the claret faithful something to cheer for the first time in over 35 years.
Just last week, Burnley produced a repeat performance with Scott Arfield’s long range screamer earning Burnley’s second win in a row for the first time since the 1970’s – perhaps marking the turn of a recently one sided table.
Bolt vs Gatlin
Usain Bolt should need no introduction. He is the fastest man of all time, finishing the 100m in the 2009 World Championships in a staggering 9.58 seconds. The man has never been beaten in a major competition, the only blemish being his 2011 World Championship disqualification due to a false start.
Yet, there was considerable doubt prior to the 2015 World Championships because of one man, Justin Gatlin. Gatlin has previously tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Since returning from his ban Gatlin has been back to his best, having run the fastest 100m of 2015 and even beating Bolt in an earlier Diamond League meet.
Gatlin is just one of many drug-taking sprinters that are seriously tarnishing the reputation of the sport. If Gatlin was to win, it would be a seriously dark day for athletics and this was looking like a real possibility. This was more than just a race. Step forward Usain Bolt. Bolt ran, for him, a modest time of 9.79 seconds edging out Gatlin by a mere one hundredth of a second. The Jamaican was heralded as the saviour of athletics and the victory seen as good triumphing evil.
Tiger Woods vs Phil Mickleson
Over the years, many of the greatest rivalries have been established on a Sunday afternoon on the PGA tour. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are widely regarded as two of best golfers and biggest rivals of the modern era. They are ranked 1 and 2 respectively in the Forbes’ 2015 list of the most valuable brands in sport, ahead of athletes like Roger Federer and Lebron James.
But it cannot be doubted which player has had more success. Mickelson won 5 major championships over a 9-year period. For any sportsperson, this is an outstanding achievement. And yet, the left hander’s record pales in comparison to his American compatriot. Woods has 14 major titles to his name, captured over 11 years. For a significant period of time, he was an unstoppable force. No other sport had a ‘Tiger’ equivalent. There hasn’t been a run of wins like it before, and it may never happen again.
But both players have experienced a fall from grace after their last major victory. ‘Lefty’ has struggled with inconsistency and hasn’t been able to keep up with the likes of Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Meanwhile Woods has suffered a monumental collapse since his last major win in 2008, and is ranked #334 in the world. This means the once-bitter rivalry no longer appears to be a factor in the golfing world.