It is hard not to feel some sympathy for Cardiff. In the space of one afternoon, both their football and rugby teams crashed out in the closest, cruellest manner possible.
A few weeks ago, Cardiff City were thinking automatic promotion to the Premiership was on, let alone the play-offs. The turning point was a 6-0 thrashing at Preston. And who was it, yesterday, that sneaked in ahead of them, on one more goal scored over the season, but Preston? If Cardiff had only conceded five that day, and other results stayed the same, they not Preston would be dreaming of a Wembley play-off final against Reading or, more likely, Burnley. THE MOMENTUM IS WITH US, MR COPPELL.
As for the Cardiff Blues, neither normal nor extra time could separate them from Leicester in the Heineken Cup semi-final, so at 26-26, the game was decided by a penalty kick shoot-out from 22 metres out in front of the posts. Sounds easy. But most rugby players never kick the ball. Add in the pressure of the moment, and it is hard.
The greatest sympathy I feel is for Martyn Williams, the Cardiff flanker who missed the kick that gave victory to Leicester. I know Martyn from my time with the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand four years ago. He is a top man and, as shown by his support for a sports fundraiser I helped organise last year, a Labour man too. He will take defeat, and his role in it, hard.
So this will be a horrible morning for both sets of Cardiff players, all the more painful for the fact they thought they were on course.
The Tories are looking pretty cocky at the moment. The old ‘born to rule’ spring is returning to the Old Etonian step, I would say. On policy, of course, and any difficult decisions that have to be taken, they are keeping their heads down and hoping all the focus stays on Labour, and difficulties for Gordon Brown.
But in politics, as in sport, you have to worry about yourselves as well as your opponents. You should never be complacent, never take victory for granted, and always understand that if you don’t truly deserve victory, you are unlikely to get it.
Two seven letter words, both beginning with Ca … both looked well set… it’d be nice if Cardiff was a metaphor for Cameron. And it would help, of course, if Labour stemmed the supply of own goals.