Cursed Football Grounds

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As football fandom harks back to earlier forms of tribalism and proud local traditions and most fans of clubs outside the financially charmed elite seem to believe that they labour under some monstrous cloud of ill-fate, it is perhaps little wonder that superstition is rife in football.

Shirt numbers - particularly the number 10 - are treated as though they have talismanic qualities, and almost anyone who regularly attends matches will refer to arcane histories of previous fixtures with every bit as much fervour as a soothsayer of old might have referred to the entrails of a freshly killed chicken. Every club seems to have it's own 'hoodoo team' - a team which regularly seems to beat them, regardless of overall form or league standing. Finally, it would be a rare fan indeed who wouldn't admit to having little pre-match rituals they cleave to in order to help the team to victory.

In this plethora of superstition and ritual it perhaps isn't as surprising as it might seem that many teams believe that even their very grounds have been cursed. Most grounds play host to the dead in the form of scattered ashes behind their goal mouths, but often it is the spirits of witches and gypsies that are said to cast the longest shadow over teams as they vainly strive for the glory of promotion to the Cats Protection League (North) or to have their name inscribed on the Johnson's Paint Trophy.

The usual 'curse' story generally follows a particular pattern involving the dislocation of gypsies when the club decide to build a new stadium. Typically, the last act of the gypsies is to curse the ground, meaning many years of unsuccessful performance for the club. Perhaps the original version of this tale is that of Derby County's Baseball Ground, but similar tales are now told at Leeds, Birmingham and a raft of others.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 8th July 2014 | © Weird Island 2010-2021
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