Robin Scott-Elliot: We may love it when we’re winning but all good things come to an end

Winning lots of gold at London 2012 went down well but was a happy one-off

My career began as a cub reporter out in East Anglia – it’s an out there sort of a place as Truman Capote might have put it – reporting on sea angling and women’s bowls. I travelled with the bowls team and once won the raffle on the way home after a stirring victory over Bedfordshire. The prize was a bottle of non-alcoholic sweet white wine. Ah, the sweet taste of success, as Alan Partridge might have put it.

Occasionally, as a treat, I was sent to watch Norwich City in the days when they sported the worst strip in Premier League history, an Andy Warhol does cheese and celery design. It is a fine club, one of those impossible not to have a soft spot for, and it fits into a theory suggested by a former colleague. If you gather four football fans together they will be able to gallop through the entire four divisions of English league football and between them advance a reason to like or dislike strongly every single club. Try it – he swears by it, and swears a lot during it.

Most of the reasons will seem trivial but that is another thing about football supporters; ever ready to take lasting offence at the trivial, any minimal offence to your club, and if it leads to a bit of anger all the better – and if it leads to a bit of righteous anger all the better still: witness Chelsea’s fans rising up in high dudgeon to collect donations to pay the very wealthy Jose Mourinho’s £8,000 pocket-money fine for objecting to Chris Foy’s officiating.

This week I criticised Norwich’s decision to dismiss Chris Hughton. It smacks of panic. It was a suggestion huffily rejected by a number of Norwich supporters, accompanied by the accusation of being a “serial bandwagon jumper”. This weekend, which hosts Norwich’s key game with Fulham, will prove me wrong, I’ve been told.

They are probably right, because when I jump on a bandwagon it tends to grind to a halt. Last summer I followed up Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon by writing that we were enjoying a golden age of British sport. I did suggest we should enjoy it while we could and since then we have lost the Ashes, Murray’s barely won a match, English clubs have been whipped in Europe, with the doughty exception of Chelsea, and even British Cycling’s looking a bit ropey. And, to tell the truth, it is all much more fun to watch.

This winter’s Ashes was compelling for what happened on the field, what happened off it and what is still going on now. England’s failure has given new life to the county game. Suddenly everyone believes they have a chance, even the admirably chipper Kevin Pietersen, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s bogeyman. When England are winning it is a closed shop; when it goes this badly wrong then the doors are flung open. The Sunday morning squad announcement before a Test becomes a moment of interest, although we are not yet back to the unforgettable level of 1988 when England had four captains in five Tests against West Indies. For the fourth Test Peter May, the chairman of selectors, picked his godson Chris Cowdrey to lead the side. I’m not sure if James Whitaker, the current chairman, has a godson playing first-class cricket.

Watching teams lose, eras draw to a painful close and everything go tits up is gripping, and as a nation there are times when we seem more comfortable with it. Winning lots of gold at London 2012 went down well but probably deserves an asterisk in the history of British sport. It was a happy one-off. Since then UK Sport has had no end of flak for continuing its “no compromise” approach to funding potential medal winners at the cost of helping those of lesser abilities just to take part. A similar about-face happened in Australia after their success in Sydney 2000 and culminated in their disastrous showing at London 2012.

The cyclical nature of sport helps keep us watching and entertained. It is reassuring that what goes up does come down. There is so much to take in when slowing down to rubberneck a sporting car crash: Jean van de Velde in the Open; England at the last World Cup; or England’s cricketers throughout this winter. There are two possibles this afternoon alone – any loser from Norwich against Fulham or even more so an Arsenal defeat at Wembley.

This may be a time of year when days lengthen and the weather brightens but it is also the angriest time of year for the football fan. Spring gives birth to the reality that the season is going to be a failure. Manchester United fans had it confirmed on Wednesday, even Barcelona’s have some pretty hard realities to face. Eras are ending quicker than you can say Dave Brailsford was fond of a marginal gain or Arsène Wenger daren’t go another season without a trophy and it is captivating.

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum