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Misguided faith in players, badly chosen words and unconventional methods feature in the latest in our series chronicling the extraordinary power of belief



Magpie scores Cole own goal

"He’ll never leave." It’s the delusion that accompanies every fan entering a tattoo parlour with the intention of inking their favourite player onto their skin. It’s something Newcastle fan Robert Nesbitt carried with him when getting Andy Cole’s mug seared into his skin in the mid-’90s. A day later Goal King Cole signed for Manchester United. “After all I went through to get the tattoo, I’d hoped that Andy would be here for a long time yet. I’m feeling the pain,” said Nesbitt.

After all I went through to get the tattoo, I’d hoped that Andy would be here for a long time yet. I’m feeling the pain.



Commentator eats his words then his hat

So dismal was the 1938 FA Cup Final between Preston and Huddersfield that when the game went into extra time, commentator Thomas Woodrooffe announced: “If there is a goal now, I’ll eat my hat.” Right on cue, Preston inside-right George Mutch was felled in the Huddersfield penalty area, dusted himself down and stepped up to smack home the winning penalty. Woodrooffe, a former naval officer, made good on his promise and later tucked into a bowler hat live on BBC television. It wasn’t quite as bad as it sounded though. The hat was actually a decorated cake.

Hinckley hypnotised and … still lose 

Desperate to galvanise the fortunes of their ailing team in the early 1950s, Hinckley Athletic directors decided that the struggling players could do with a spot of mental intervention from famed hypnotist Richard Payne. With an important match looming against Bedworth Town, 300 fans crammed into the local working man’s club and saw half the team put to sleep, and told by Payne: “You’ll win, you’ll win, you’ll win.” The galvanising effect bore instant fruit as one of the players dribbled his bowler hat around stage in a manner akin to Stanley Matthews, but on the day of the match, Payne’s mental magic wore off and Hinckley lost.

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