The best sports stars make their own luck but what if destiny is beyond their control? What if they’ll never taste glory because they’ve been cursed to begin with?
From baseball legends, to gypsy magic, these are five of the strangest hexes in sport.
Curse of the Bambino
Prior to the Boston Red Sox sale of Babe Ruth to fierce rivals the New York Yankees in 1920, the Fenway Park outfit had won four World Series since 1912. After the departure of the legendary slugger, they failed to win another for an astonishing 86 seasons. In that time, the Yankees captured 26 titles further attributing to the credibility of a hex on the Red Sox, dubbed ‘the curse of the Bambino.’ The hoodoo was finally broken in 2004 when the Massachusetts team defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, having dispatched the Yankees on the way.
A whole host of athletes who appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine went on to suffer a series of mishaps, prompting an urban myth of misfortune to spring up. For example, when New England Patriots talisman Tom Brady graced the front page, he suffered severe cruciate ligament damage in the season’s first game. And before stepping in the ring to face Mike Tyson, boxer Michael Spinks appeared on the cover with the headline, “Don’t count me out.” Iron Mike did just that with a knockout after 91 seconds. The luckless list goes on.
The curse of Coogan’s Bluff
In 1957, baseball team the Giants left New York City and traded their Polo Grounds home at Coogan’s Bluff for San Francisco. Feeling betrayed, enraged fans in the Big Apple put a hex on the team that they would never again win a World Series after leaving NYC. For 53 years it seemed to work, while even nature intervened to delay two subsequent World Series held in San Fran. Eventually the Giants prevailed to break the curse and have captured three crowns since 2010.
The Socceroos and the witch doctor
In the qualifiers for the 1970 World Cup, Australia recruited the help of a voodoo priest to cast bad luck on their opponents. However, when they failed to pay the man, he reversed the curse on the Socceroos. Although they reached the finals four years later, the Aussies failed to score a single goal, and didn’t qualify for the World Cup for another 32 years. Before the tournament in 2006, a documentary maker asked an African witch doctor to undo the hex. Guess what? They qualified for Germany.
Before Derby County moved to their new home stadium, the Baseball Ground, construction of the venue meant a group of Romany gypsies had to make way. Duly put out, they placed a curse on the Rams meaning they’d fail to win another trophy. After three FA Cup final defeats in six years, the Midlands club took drastic action when they reached the Wembley showpiece again in 1946. Club captain Jack Nicholson was dispatched to meet with the gypsies. His negotiations worked as Derby went on to defeat Charlton Athletic to finally claim the silverware and break the cycle.