It came right down to the final few minutes of the final game of the season, but yesterday, Manchester United wrapped up another spectacular season by celebrating a League Championship. Chelsea, needing a win and a Man U point drop, settled for a one all tie against Bolton.
A foul in the penalty area set up Cristiano Ronaldo goal from the spot, and a deft pass from Wayne Rooney allowed Ryan Giggs to walk in alone on Wigan goaltender Chris Kirkland. Giggs, playing in his (approximately) twelve millionth match for United, slid the ball past the helpless keeper to ensure Manchester’s celebration.
Celebrating a championship is nothing new to the people of Boston. In my 35 years, I’ve celebrated three Super Bowl victories (2001, 2003, & 2004), 2 World Series Championships (2004 & 2007), and 3 NBA Championships (1981, 1984, & 1986). I was born in 1972, in the afterglow of the last Bruins championship. There are plenty of other cities in this country that would love to have that kind of 35-year achievement. On average, that’s a championship in one of the major sports every four and a half years. Imagine being assured of a championship parade at least twice a decade. Imagine what such a guarantee would mean to a die-hard Buffalo Bills fan! Cities like Chicago, New York, Boston, and Los Angeles are so spoiled in that American sports (like their European counterparts) are driven by big money, and as such the biggest cities that generate the biggest revenues tend to see the biggest rewards, namely trophies.
Manchester United has won an astonishing ten Premier League titles in the short history (16 years in its present formation) of the league. That’s more than half of the total titles–it’s five-eighths, to be exact. I will admit, it’s kind of lame that the team that I follow, the team I consider myself a fan of, is winning so often. I’d won’t say they are winning easily, but they are winning often.
It’s a drag that I really can’t be any part of the celebration, since I live 3000 miles west of Manchester, but it’s still nice for my team to win. Given the Patriots’ collapse in the Super Bowl, I don’t think I could have taken another heartbreaker had United lost and Chelsea won on the final day. Missing out on the party, or even having other fans to watch with, isn’t so big a deal, because of course had they lost, I wouldn’t have had to hear about it the way I did when my obnoxious Giant fan brother-in-law called at 11 PM to gloat. Fandom works both ways. I don’t have anyone to celebrate with, but I also don’t have to suffer as publicly in the face of a high-profile loss.
Congratulations to the Red half of Manchester. I wish I could be there to celebrate, but it will have to wait ’til next year. Here’s hoping there’s even more to celebrate when the 21st rolls around, and the Red Devils have the chance to send Chelsea home without a single piece of silverware this season.