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ClichA in focus; You're only as good as your last match/ shot/fight, etc.

Byline: BRUCE MILLINGTON

Who says it This one is generally left to veteran pundits from right across the sporting spectrum who like to sound wordly wise, although they quite often preface it with "you know what they say..."

That translates to "I'm not absolutely sure that what I'm about to say has any foundation to it whatsoever so I will cover myself by deflecting the blame on to that mythical collective we refer to as 'they'."

What it means Apparently that, whatever else you have achieved in your career, you can only be judged on your very latest performance. Which is pretty bloody stupid.

Ridiculousness factor

Massive, obviously. I really can't think of a single application which has any validity.

Take football, for example. Chelsea drew at Wycombe the other week. So did Rochdale. Is anyone seriously saying there is nothing between the teams from Stamford Bridge and Spotlands?

Boxing is a popular vehicle for this daft saying. Again, it's utter nonsense. Are you not allowed to have an off-night (sorry, bad day at the office) without some supposed wise owl writing you off?

If I was anchoring a TV broadcast and my studio guest claimed you are only as good as your last effort I would make a point of asking him to explain what he meant and to provide recent examples to illustrate his point.

What is absolutely certain is that if you are a racing or football punter and you place too much importance on a team or animal's last outing you are destined to find your new address being 1 The Poor House, Queer Street, Skintsville. I don't know the postcode.

Better alternatives You are only as good as your overall form, giving slightly greater weight to recent performances than more ancient ones but never losing sight of the fact that you are never only as good as your last effort.

Was it you?

This stupid phrase has been around for ages so I doubt we'll be able to track down its originator. But if your granddad happened to tell you he invented it, please feel free to drop me an email me at b.millington@racingpost.co.uk.

Meanwhile, last week's plea to track down the person who first told us people in sport set the stall out to do particular things threw up an interesting response, with two readers claiming Ron Atkinson should take the credit and that it has been in existence since as early as the 1986 World Cup finals.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 18, 2007
Words:418
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