Good old-fashioned rivalries are the lifeblood of sports fandom. This week we are launching a series of posts on rivalries in sport. First off we look at the greatest fictional rivalries in sport...
1. Hurricanes v Garkos Gorgons
Led by their 12 year old owner Amanda Carey and very evocatively named Scottish coach Jock Stone, the Hispanola Hurricanes were the leading club in the breakaway World Soccer League. An extremely cosmopolitan band of talented, fun-loving, sometimes absent minded but essentially good-hearted pros, the Hurricanes were notoriously slow starters in games but their abundant talent shone through in the end.
The Hurricanes had a longstanding rivalry with the Garkos Gorgons, a team owned by the unscrupulous, pony-tailed meglomaniac, Stavros Garkos who, perhaps unwisely, only recruited players from the ranks of the criminal underworld. Garkos, an oligarch with a bewildering array of financial interests and who always had a number of shady money-making rackets on the go at any one time, went to extraordinary lengths to steal the Hurricanes title as the No. 1 team in the WSL. These included a host of extraordinarily serious indiscretions, all of which went mystifyingly unpunished by the football authorities (and indeed the civil authorities).
The Gorgons best player was their tough-tacking (like all their players, he was tough-tackling) midfielder Genghis Khan. Their home ground was situated, improbably, in a volcano and their supporters wore actual Viking hats at games, apparently glorying in their reputation as the bad boys of the World Soccer League.
The two teams played each other with an astonishing degree of regularity. In all, they must have faced each other almost 52 times across the series' 52 episode run. The games followed a remarkably set pattern, with the Hurricanes invariably winning 3 - 2, having trailed 2 - 0 at half-time. This held true for every game except two legged cup ties, where the Hurricanes made a habit of losing the first leg before recovering in the second leg.
Note: Among the other teams the Hispanola Hurricanes were played were Irish side , the Timborary Shamrocks
2. Roy McAvoy and David Simms
An age old rivalry between a rough diamond with a heart of gold and an urbane, calculating, malevolent coward. I don't think I'm giving away a major plot twist at the end if I told you which one of them got the girl.
Roy McAvoy, whose performance in the US Open has certain echoes of John Daly's performance in the USPGA in 1991, was greeted as a hero for his dopey 12 on the final hole when still in contention. Jean Van de Velde got ridiculed for a 72nd hole performance not half as bad.
The girl, Molly, had naturally been Simms girlfriend at the start, but his decision to lay up rather than go for the green cost him more than the tournament and she went off with Roy, who she had already been helping mentally. At the end, Roy decides to go back to US Tour qualifying school and Molly resolves to steal all Bob Rotella's business.
3. Renford Rejects v Renford Razors
The Renford League First Divsion schedule being what it was, these two always ended up meeting each other on the final day of the season. The circumstances were always eerily familiar. The Razors would need only a draw to claim the title, while the Rejects would have to win to stay up. Invariably the Rejects won these encounters, usually with one of the shitter or more maligned players proving the hero. The wonder is that the Razors never developed any Mayo/Jimmy White style affinity with the general public with all these near misses.
4. Willie Beamon v Jack 'Cap' Rooney
The brash, impetuous young Willie Beamon is the cocky, talented, if not so bright, young thing who aims to take the quarterback spot off the formerly great but currently creaking Jack 'Cap' Rooney, who is out injured.
Beamon with his penchant for vomiting in huddles and releasing gaudy, astonishingly narcissistic music tracks, plays well initially but starts to get too big for his boots. Wizened old coach Tony D'Amato is alienated by the cut of his gib. He brings back the old man Rooney for a crucial play-off game, causing serious damage to his relationship with the egotistical Beamon, who is only won round by the type of epic speech capable of clocking up 1,000,000,000,000 views on youtube.
5. James Bond v Le Chiffre
Those unfamiliar with James Bond might think that a full house is a good poker hand, but anyone who has ever seen any of the films knows that with anything shy of a straight flush, you'd be well advised to just throw them away. If you turned over a hand like 'Three of a kind' in a Bond film, you'd be laughed off the table. Like most poker adversaries in Bond films, Le Chiffre had a curiously obvious tell which everyone else managed to miss except the people who were whispering in Bond's ear (who really could have made hay if they were playing).
Whenever he was bluffing, he'd scratch his eye or something. Anyway, after an absurdly high stakes battle worthy of Poker After Dark with a host of unsavoury characters at the table, Bond won a dramatic pot after Le Chiffre somewhat unwisely went all in with just a full house.
6. The Masters v the pupils
The pupils were really no match for the masters in this loving ode to schools rugby from the Monty Python crew. The forward power of the Masters shone through as they ran roughshod over a limp pupils outfit to the delight of their supporters. Chris Ashton style swallow dives were a big feature of the game long before the end (of course Ashton is originally a rugby league man who would never have had the privilege of participating in a contest such as this).
7. German Philosophers v Greek Philosophers
A tactical battle the likes of which you don't see in football too often these days. It was a cagey, very continental affair devoid of inspiration until Archemedis unleashed a moment of magic and scored his rather controversial goal. The referee Confucious allowed it to stand over furious German protests.
8. Shooter McGavin v Happy Gilmore
Some day soon, Hollywood is going to make a film where the young punk outsider with no respect for golfing etiquette will be treated as the bad guy and will be roundly ignored by all the women in the film, while the impeccably dressed country club insider will emerge as the hero, take home the prizemoney and hang onto the girlfriend he had at the outset.
In the meantime, we have to make do with films like Happy Gilmore. We are given no indication that Shooter McGavin has any Christian name other than 'Shooter' but then it's news to some people that Tiger Woods' mother called him Eldrick.
Shooter rightly attempted to have Happy expelled from the tour for his flagrant disregard for the traditions of the game, but the commissioner keeps him in the tour for all the wrong, commercial, reasons. The filmmaker's lack of moral compass sees them slide towards Happy.
The film ends with an inevitable playoff between Shooter and Happy, where Happy overcomes all sorts of frankly incredible obstacles put in his way by his grasping, scheming and paranoid adversary.
It ends in Happy's triumph and Shooter's total humiliation.
9. Ducks v Hawks
In a battle with a strong class warfare subtext worthy of Munster v Leinster or Boca Juniors v River Plate, the Ducks took on the posh boy Hawks in the Minneapolis PeeWee Hockey Championship of 1992. Coached by ex-Hawks player, the hotshot Defence Attorney Gordon Bombay, the shambolic Ducks got their act together remarkably quickly. Think Kevin Heffernan and Dublin 1974.
In a scandal worthy of the League of Ireland, Bombay, using his sharp legal mind, rumbles that Hawks are playing an illegal player but the information went nowhere. Incredibly, Bombay quit his highly paid job to devote himself full time to the task of winning that year's championship.
The Hawks (like many adversaries on here) aren't afraid to indulge in high physical displays of manliness, but the skills orientated Ducks rise above it, stealing a shock win.
10. Average Joes v Globo Gym
Globo gym, a powerful entity with a lot of money behind them took on a shambolic operation called Average Joes, a team full of eccentric players, a charismatic captain and a talented bisexual woman.
The romance of the FA Cup, which usually involves top flight teams destroying inferior non-league opposition, has nothing on Dodgeball.
11. Looney Toons v Monsters
The Looney Tunes had such mental strength that they didn't even let the murder of one of their teammates on the court by a member of the opposing team faze them. This was an offence to which the referees, unaccountably, turned a blind eye.
Looney Tunes' recruitment of Michael Jordan proved to be one of the keys to an improbable and inspirational victory.
30 for 30 have already done a better job of summing up this rivalry than I could hope to achieve.
12. Rugged Island v Craggy Island
In front of a partisan home crowd in 1998, Craggy Island thought they had won back the annual All-Priests over-75 5-a-side football competition, after five straight losses. However, the scourge of remote control wheelchairs was to come back to haunt the over-75's game once more. With Father Jack Hackett asleep and Father Nick Doorley ruled out of action by death, Craggy Island supremo Ted Crilly decided to fall back on the all-too familiar strategy of remote controlled wheelchairs. This was rumbled and Dick Byrne's Rugged Island took home another title.
13. Fermoy v Mitchelstown
A strictly fictional rivalry as neither Mitchelstown or Fermoy have much of a hurling pedigree. The centrepiece of this game is the Fermoy gaffer's fractious relationship with talented but wayward forward Phil Kelly. The old school manager was not impressed by Kelly's subtle tactical analysis at half time and was not disposed to praise even after he rocketed a goal early in the second half.
Kelly's career ended the way so many other promising hurling careers in the 80s ended, with him sacrificing a job in the bank so he could flake a dirty opponent on the side of the head.In rural Ireland at the time 80% of all bank jobs were dispensed by GAA coaches. As he had alienated his manager by retaliating to a nasty dig, the bank job was now closed off to him, a fact he was reminded of in no uncertain terms by his manager even as he was leaving the pitch. This being the 1980s, he was left with little option but to skive off his Leaving Cert and emigrate, both of which he duly did.
14. Chris Atwater v Julie Connor
Not many sporting rivalries have developed into romantic relationships. Chris Atwater, captain of Deering's boys team, had no time for the idea that noted woman Julie Connor might be togging out for the team. His cheerleader girlfriend Mary Beth, a more traditional model of femininity, also made a habit of staring daggers at Julie at every opportunity.
In the time honoured convention of teen sporting comedy dramas, Julie quickly emerged as the second best player on the team. And the first few episodes chronicled Chris's slow enlightenment.
Hang Time also adhered to another of the teen comedy's beloved conventions, that of introducing the older character at the end of the opening credits with their characters name referenced as well (they say something like 'and Bill Dobson as Tom Crossley').
15. Panthers v Lions
This is like a grown up version of the Mighty Ducks. The rich kids with all the goods taking on the lads from the wrong side of the track. When there's a director and a screenplay and a production company involved, the rich kids rarely win out in these encounters. And if they do, its a prelude to an even bigger, more galling loss later on down the line. If there's ever going to be a film made about Irish provincial rugby, I think its fair to assume Leinster aren't winning that match. That whole West Dillon/East Dillon divide... Bitter.
Coach Taylor was sacked as Panthers coach, and rather like Brian Clough at the end of 'The Damned United', went to a comparatively unfashionable side, the Lions, and carried them an exceptionally long way...
16. Peter Colt v Jake Hammond
This is what it would have looked like had Tim Henman won Wimbledon. An English sportsman as only Richard Curtis could sketch him, Peter Colt is a courtly, wry, excessively polite chap who was formerly as high as No. 11 in the world rankings, but his career was winding down and he had entered a Goran Ivanisevic style spell in the wilderness. As Hugh Grant wasn't available (a tad too old), Paul Bettany did an admirable job of stepping in.
His nemesis throughout the film is the entitled and cocky young hot-shot American, Jake Hammond, a thoroughly unpleasant oik, as Colt might put it. Following the tried and trusted Tin Cup template, both of them are after the same young one. And not just any ordinary young one. Lizzie Bradbury is gunning for the Wimbledon title, egged on a demanding tennis dad who reckons Peter Colt is a god awful distraction. Her and Peter have her ups and downs but at the end... let's just say Colt doesn't just win Wimbledon at the end.