Tuesday, 17 September 2013

English Football's Longest Trophy Droughts

Johnny King. Tranmere's last trophy-winning manager. 
I've become very familiar with long droughts of sporting success. I attended my first Tranmere Rovers match as a seven year old, but little did I know that adulthood would arrive before any celebration, any achievement, any trophy. Nowadays, even PSV Eindhoven, the oversees club which caught my imagination during 'teenhood,' are mired in drought, without an Eredivisie title since 2008. I'm also a keen US sports enthusiast and, earlier in the summer, came to love the Chicago Cubs as my own team. The Cubs haven't won a World Series championship since 1908; they haven't even had the opportunity to lose one since 1945. Therefore, I've been thinking a lot about scarce sporting achievement lately, and it led me to investigate those English Football League fan-bases that have endured the longest periods of nothingness.

I decided to measure each of the ninety-two league clubs based on the 'years since their last achievement.' Now, what constitutes 'achievement,' I hear you ask? Well, I classify an achievement as a cause for celebration and progress. Accordingly, this study includes promotions, playoff final victories, and, yes, even Leyland DAF Trophy triumphs within the term 'achievement.' In essence, we're measuring the last time each club won something.

So, here is the top ten:

English Football's Longest Trophy Droughts - Top 10
1. Coventry City - 26 years

2. Tranmere Rovers - 22 years

3. Oldham Athletic - 22 years

4. Ipswich Town - 21 years

5. Everton - 18 years

6. Aston Villa - 17 years

7. Bolton Wanderers - 12 years

8. Fulham - 12 years

9. Blackburn Rovers - 11 years

10. Torquay United - 9 years

It's difficult to see the club you love feature so prominently on this list. In the time since Rovers last won a trophy, even clubs like Accrington Stanley, Burton Albion, and Morecambe have achieved relatively big things. It hurts. However, this is descriptive of the entire essence of football fandom: nothing which transpires on the pitch will ever change the heart of a true fan. Even if we haven't won anything in a generation, even if we've had very little to shout about in the past two decades, even if we don't look like winning any time soon, we'll still be there, shouting our team on from the stands! It's in the blood of devout fans, this eternal dream that, one day, we might actually be that club climbing the steps at Wembley. It's what motivates us all to keep going.

So, I never want to hear another Manchester United fan, sat behind a keyboard in Kuala Lumpur or Beijing, bemoan the fact that David Moyes hasn't manufactured quite the perfect start. I never want to hear of Manchester City fans depressed at a second-place finish, nor Chelsea fans enraged by one fruitless campaign, nor Nottingham Forest fans pleading for promotion out of the Championship. I don't even want to hear Arsenal fans' self-pitying spiel about 2005. If you think you're club is hard-done-to, just come back and take a look at this list. Therein lies the true spirit of English football, with real clubs, real fans, and real dreams.

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