Room at the buffet of sporting success is strictly limited. Once a team has had their fill of the victory vol-au-vents it’s rarely long before they’re sent packing from the table of triumph by another set of hungry champions.
Here, we look at five teams that went from gluttonous giants to trophy-starved waifs, and highlight their best moments available in Vision Sport’s classic sport archive now…
Leeds United are one of the grand old dukes of English football. During the glory days of the mid to late 1960s and early 1970s, Don Revie marched United to the top of the hill by winning two league titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups.
In 1975 Leeds stamped their name into the list of greats by reaching the European Cup final, while 18 years later they pipped Manchester United to win the league title for the third time. Leeds were still mixing it with the European big boys as recently as 2001 when they humbled Milan, Lazio and Deportivo La Coruna on their way to the Champions League semi final.
But then it all started to go horribly wrong. Financial hardship forced the Yorkshire club to sell its best players and relegation ensued. It’s now Leyton Orient, rather than Lazio, who occupy the visitors’ changing rooms at Elland Road and the only cups on display are of the discarded Bovril variety.
The West Indies
Back in the 1970s and 80s, facing the West Indian bowling attack was about as enticing a prospect as drinking a glass of rancid milk. The likes of Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall and later Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh ripped through opposition batting line-ups so ferociously that cricketers touring the Caribbean had to make sure their life assurance policy was up to date before boarding the plane.
And once the West Indian bowlers had skittled out their opponents, Sir Viv Richards continued the onslaught with the bat. The Master Blaster smashed the ball out of the ground and into the car park so often, it’s a wonder he wasn’t sponsored by Autoglass.
But by the mid-90s, the Windies were in decline and Australia were the dominant force in world cricket. These days, their attack is about as scary as a Care Bear, which is reflected by the fact that only Bangladesh lie below the West Indies in the current ICC Test rankings.
If winning makes you happy, rugby league fans of Wigan must have suffered serious facial pain from all the smiling during the 1980s and 1990s. The Cherry Red and Whites won so much silverware in this spell that they could have satisfied the combined adornment-cravings of Sir Jimmy Saville, Mr T and darts legend Bobby George by melting their trophies down and turning them into jewellery. The likes of Martin Offiah, Jason Robinson and Shaun Edwards helped Wigan to eight successive Challenge Cup victories by 1995 and seven successive Championship titles by 1996.
But just as the trophy engraver was beginning to forget about the existence of letters other than W, I, G, A and N, their stranglehold on rugby league’s major trophies was loosened. The Warriors’ last Super League victory came in 1998, and bar their Challenge Cup win in 2002, the only thing fans have had to cheer about is the quality of local pies.
Challenge Cup final 1985: Wigan v Hull
Challenge Cup final 1988: Wigan v Halifax
Challenge Cup final 1989: Wigan v St Helens
Challenge Cup final 1990: Wigan v Warrington
Challenge Cup final 1991: Wigan v St Helens
Challenge Cup final 1992: Wigan v Castleford
Challenge Cup final 1993: Wigan v Widnes
Challenge Cup final 1994: Wigan v Leeds
Challenge Cup final 1995: Wigan v Leeds
The Hungarian national football team of the 1950s was arguably the greatest side never to win the Word Cup. The Magical Magyars were unbeaten for a record 33 consecutive matches up to the 1954 World Cup final, where they lost to no-frills efficiency freaks, Germany (who they’d anihilated 8-3 in the earlier stages of the competition).
Among the stars in the Hungarian ranks was Real Madrid’s legendary forward Ferenc Puskas, whose tally of 84 goals in 85 international matches makes Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring record look like that of Francis Jeffers.
Puskas and his pals won Olympic gold in 1952 and a year later became the first team from outside the UK and Ireland to beat England at Wembley when they crushed the home side 6-3. Try blaming that result on WAGs, Ashley Cole or the inability of Gerrard and Lampard to combine in the centre of the park.
These days, the arrival of the Hungarian team bus at Wembley would be met with the same level of trepidation most people experience when faced with a mild-tempered puppy. The Magyars are ranked 64th in the world, just above makeweights Burkina Faso and Moldova.
The European Ryder Cup team
America had such a tight grip on the Ryder Cup that when Europe finally prised the trophy from their grip in 1985, it was the first time in 28 years. This marked the first of three entertaining wins under inspirational captain Tony Jacklin. Although having players like Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Seve Ballesteros and Bernard Langer at his disposal obviously helped.
Fast forward to 2008 and the end to another period of dominance. Europe went into the competition on the back of three consecutive Ryder Cup victories. Our brave golfers wiped the floor with the Americans in the previous two events – Bernard Langer leading the Europeans to a nine-point victory in 2004, a feat repeated by Ian Woosnam’s side in 2006.
The US might have been playing on home soil this year, but without their best player – the injured Tiger Woods – they had no chance of winning that trophy back. Or so most people thought. Things looked ominous when European captain Nick Faldo gave the hosts a head start by accidentally revealing his pairings on the eve of the tournament. The bumbling skipper tried to convince the media he’d been photographed with a list detailing the sandwich preferences of his players, rather than his plans for intercontinental golfing domination.
Needless to say, his bluff was about as convincing as a bearded transvestite. When the action got underway, Europe struggled and managed to win just one session over the weekend as the US romped to a five-point victory. At the post-tournament inquest, Lee Westwood pointed the finger of blame at the crowd for indulging in “too much clapping and cheering”, while Ian Poulter complained about being barged on course by Anthony Kim, a lad barely out of short pants. At least they’re magnanimous in defeat though, eh?