The Old Foe

An insight by Andrew Howie

There is no secret in the fact I love sport. And by sport I mean all sport. If there are 2 people going head to head at anything, I’m in. If you asked me to choose between the Winter and Summer Olympics, my answer would be – ‘no dice’. I love them both equally.

I have been in a really good place the last few weeks with the Winter Olympics in full swing. Traditionally it opens with the Men’s Downhill. A fantastic event based on speed and the absence of fear. And to close the games, the Men’s Ice Hockey gold medal.

The organizers could not have hoped for a better game. USA v Canada. The host nation up against their biggest rivalry. Now if there is one thing that Canadians love, it is Ice Hockey. The only thing they love more is beating the USA at Ice Hockey.
The match was a nail biter. It was sent in to extra time with a goal in the dying minutes. 2 all. During the first period of overtime a hero was born. Already touted as the next big thing of the sport, Sidney Crosby slide the puck past the skate of the US keeper to snatch victory 3-2.
The crowd went wild. The nation went wild. And the capital erupted into a night of partying.

Now, this game in itself had the right to be one for the times, but what made it even more special was the rivalry. Two nations hell bent on beating the stuffing out of each other.

There are many famous rivalries across all sports. Oxford and Cambridge stroke it out each year in rowing. Barcelona and Real Madrid in the soccer (football). Other famous rivalries include Red Sox vs Yankees and the Ashes played between Australia and England in cricket.

One of the fiercest and most memorable rivalries played out in 1956 when, in retribution for the war occurring back home, the Hungarians took down the USSR in the water polo. The match was physical from the outset with punches and kicks being exchanged. The Hungarians were leading 4-0 when the match was called off. The Hungarians went on to win the gold medal, beating Yugoslavia.

All teams, and individuals pump themselves up before a game. But there is something in these great rivalries that sees teams find that little bit extra. Pushing for those little one percenter’s (remember Life is a game of inches) that the commentators always talk about.

There is nothing greater than watching an age old rivalry being battled out before your eyes.