Mumford and Sons have already rocked Lewes, and they haven’t even played yet!

Music fans and football fans came together in the hundreds today at Lewes’ historic Dripping Pan football ground to watch Mumford and Sons, selected others from the Gentlemen of the Road tour and teams entered from Lewes itself enter into the arena of 5-a-side football. Bonfire United, a selection of players representing Lewes’ seven Bonfire Societies, won the day; beating Lewes FC comprehensively in the final (ominous, if you’re a Rooks fan…)

Mumford and teachers from Lewes Priory school faced off for third place, and the Priory teachers came out on top in that match. But today was about more than football. I spend and have spent quite a big chunk of my life in Lewes and nothing of the scale of GOTR has ever even looked like it’ll happen in Lewes. Of anywhere that Mumford could’ve chosen to have held this festival, they chose the sleepy little County Town with a deep history behind it, simply because they “like the vibe of the place”. If it’s good enough for them, it’ll be good enough for most of us…

I’ve also seen more than my fair share of matches at the Dripping Pan, and not many have rivalled the kind of atmosphere that was generated there today. For the first time I can remember, Lewes has come alive and I’m not just saying that for the blatantly obvious cliché. This festival has given the town something to talk about, something to look forward to. Now 25,000 have descended onto the Convent Field to see the music unfold. If this was annual, or in a larger city like London, it’ll be forgotten fairly quickly. Not in Lewes. This is the sort of event that will go down in folklore, ‘most definitely something to tell the grandchildren about. 

The best part about this is that Mumford seem to understand the importance of this to a town like Lewes. The football tournament today gave them a chance to meet the fans (including myself, as you’ll see from the picture below!) and they made sure that they made time for everyone. This was from the other players to the referees to the droves of fans on the sidelines as well. 

When I met Ted Dwane, I asked him how he was now after he had an operation to remove a blood clot in his brain, his response? “Yeah, definitely getting there, mate!”, and all four members actually seem like genuinely nice blokes, too. When one player went down injured during a match, even though he wasn’t playing, the first person to run over to offer help was Marcus Mumford (who, by the way, is actually half-decent in goal!)

Unfortunately I can’t make it to the show tonight through work, but you can bet your mortgage on me being there tomorrow. I wouldn’t miss this even if you paid me. I want something to tell the grandkids… So even before the music starts all I can say is thank you, Gentlemen of the Road, because Lewes definitely needed this.Image

Just Why Do Fans Hate Repeated Sporting Success?

I was watching the British Grand Prix from the comfort of the sofa on Sunday to witness the largest cheer of the day from the partisan British crowd coming on lap 42, in which World Champion for the last three years and current Championship leader Sebastian Vettel retired with a transmission failure. Unsporting, yes, but reflective of opinion for sure. Sky commentators theorised at the time that the sheer glee of Vettel’s retirement came from previous events, such as in Malaysia when he committed the ultimate unsportsmanlike act in disobeying the orders of his team/employers to steal the victory from his overall more popular team mate. But I think it’s more than that. The global audience of Formula 1 has had to sit back and watch Sebastian Vettel win from pole position with the fastest car time and time again, with any hiccups being more scarce than Britain winning anything in the Winter Olympics; or Sir Alex Ferguson blaming anyone other than a referee for when his team dropped any points. It’s just not natural.

Pathologically, I think that us sport fans simply lament the continued success of others. I say ‘continued’ because we don’t mind when someone wins something/tastes general success for the first time. We often feel happy that the latest event to herald a new talent is something to revel in. Of course we do. Why shouldn’t we? Someone has achieved a goal and has deserved it. Well done, them. Win the same thing over and over again however, and we won’t like them anymore. Because it’s boring. Put Manchester City up against Grimsby Town and very few of us will want City to win. Because we would expect them to.

One thought is that we might simply want to see entertainment. I’m pretty sure that in football a 3-3 draw between two evenly matched teams would be much more intriguing than a 7-0 rout. And in F1, a race with five different lead changes is far better to watch than the fastest man in the fastest car running away with the race and everyone finishing where they started. We should know, that’s all that happened for the first half of the last decade with a certain German driving a Prancing Horse… Along the same vein, in competition at the highest level spectators would expect to see a strong fight for supremacy, but if one person/team is metaphorical streets ahead of the opponent the spectacle is taken away to a certain extent.

If there’s one thing that sports fans love more than anything, however, it’s a good underdog. The 1000/1 outsider that can bring a brief smile when they defeat one of the big guns. And you only have to mention one word to sum up underdog stories this year so far: Wimbledon. Rafael Nadal crashing out in a tennis Grand Slam first round for the first time in his career against Belgian Steve Darcis; and the almighty Roger Federer falling in the second round against the un-fancied (and virtually unheard of) Sergiy Stakhovsky, who broke the Great Swiss’s run of 36 consecutive Grand Slam quarter finals that he had reached previously. The tennis fan pages were in uproar, and rightly so. Because the fact of the matter is that upsetting the norm is what keeps sport interesting.

When Wigan defeated Manchester City to win the FA Cup in May, other than if you’re a City fan, obviously, the sporting fan community was ecstatic with that result. David had befallen Goliath (or another clichė along that line…) and for one day at least, we could smile knowing that people in Bookmakers’ up and down the country had made a lot of money on the extreme odds against the underdogs when they put a cheeky quid on. Drinks are on me tonight, lads. (But Wigan got relegated from the Premier League soon after, so let’s just gloss over that for now…)

Even when people decide to support those that win everything, that seemingly makes them suddenly lower in our expectations. This breed of people are often classed as ‘Glory Hunters’. It must be great for you lot, never having to taste defeat with the team you support. So don’t be surprised to see someone wearing a Man Utd shirt one week and a Chelsea strip the next when you see them at the pub. If you know anyone that does this, give them a telling off from me. Many thanks!

The great voice of F1, Murray Walker said in an interview this month that he was happy that he wasn’t commentating during the peak of the Schumacher dominance, branding it “The dullest period I’ve seen in F1”. And he’s right. It was. The same driver winning race in, race out, week after week. And in football, Man Utd won the Premier League? Again? Wow, I love a bit of excitement, I do, nothing predictable about that at all… So I can conclude with you now that repeated success truly is boring. Simple answer to a big question, really. The one exception I can think of is the Olympics. If the same person wins the same event, it’s only every four years, so we don’t really care. If the same teams/people win everything every week, it’ll get to the point where there won’t be any point wasting our time watching for the results when we already know what’s going to happen. But as Usain Bolt wins his races in the public eye very sporadically, we can let it slide. So there’s my message to you, sportsmen and women: keep it interesting, let someone else win once in a while. Then you’ll be liked more.