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Billy Goats and Indian Burial Grounds: Six Of Sport's Most Iconic Curses

Billy Goats and Indian Burial Grounds: Six Of Sport's Most Iconic Curses
Aaron Strain
By Aaron Strain
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We live in a seriously mixed up world and sometimes, all you can muster yourself to do is to shake the head and have a laugh about it.

After Paris Saint Germain had their asses handed to them on a plate by Lille on Sunday night, the focus of the attention online was not the fact that the would-be champions found themselves playing with ten men for most of the game. For a change, even their injured players weren't fingered as the issue and no one seemed to give any credence to the fact that these are simply a group of highly paid young men, coming to the end of another season in which they will canter to another Ligue 1 Championnat.

No, Lille kicked PSG back out the door on the back of a 5-1 tanking because a lad that played all of five minutes for the Parisiens fired up a photo of himself and rapper Drake online. Layvin Kurzawa, hang your head in shame.

The Canadien artist has become a contemporary sporting boogeyman. His sword a camera phone, his vessel social media platforms, it seems the One Dance singer will stop at nothing in a relentless pursuit to bring doom upon those he dupes into thinking he's sound enough to stand for a photo with them.

Drake, who has also said to have brought doom upon Pierre Emerick Aubamayang and Sergio Aguero in recent weeks was pictured wearing a jumper with all four franchise crests of the remaining teams in the NFL playoffs in January, just so he couldn't be blamed for condemning one to almost certain defeat.

At least the Toronto born singer is able to see the funny side of things. Poor Aaron Ramsey has been labelled the Angel of Death for God's sake. The less air to that the better.

Whilst this is all new age fantasy shite, we wanted to take a look at some of the more ingrained sporting curses that have endured the test of time, starting, of course, with an old favourite.


Mayo - The Curse of 1951

Ah yes, the curse that has exonerated from blame every choker-dose to pull on the famous red and green for as long as anyone was fit to drive from Claremorris to Croke Park.

Mayo footballers have reached the All-Ireland final on nine separate occasions since 1989, failing to win a single one. Sam Maguire last made for the Yew County in 1951 and the story goes that it was during the raucous celebrations that the curse was laid.

Sporting Curses

While passing through the village of Foxford, the joyous cup-holders failed to pay their respects to a funeral in the locality. Their slight was noted and whilst conjecture reigns as to who laid the curse, Mayo will supposedly not be fit to win Sam again until all those involved in the 1951 victory have attended their own funerals.


Two members of the side remain alive to this day.

Chicago Cubs - The Curse of the Billy-Goat 

Charismatic Greek immigrant and owner of the Billy Goat Tavern chain of Chi-town boozers, William Sianis had a penchant for the dramatic. In 1944 in one stroke of fucking genius, he posted a "No Republicans" poster on his bar's door when the Republican convention came to the Illinois city, knowing fine well that his bar would become the focal point for the conservatives to go and demand to be served.

Sporting Curses

A year later, however, during the Cubs 1945 World Series Game 4 tie against Detroit Tigers at Wrigley Park, Sianis was told to take himself and his pet goat off after the latter began to stink the vicinity out. An irate Sianis reportedly was heard to say "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more" - in what we presume was an authentic Gone With The Wind accent.


And 'them Cubs', they didn't. Well up until 2016, when on the 46th anniversary of Sianis's death, the Cubs finally secured their third World Series, bridging a108-year wait.

The Croatian Basketball Curse

Anybody that's ever seen the footage of  Zvonimir Boban fly kicking a Red Star Belgrade fan during a 1990 Yugoslav league match will probably know already that the Croatian march to independence was something they weren't fucking around with in the early '90s.

By 1995, Croatia had secured independence from the Yugoslav state after a bloody four-year conflict. So you could imagine the tension that filled the room when Croatian and Yugoslavian teams both stepped upon the podium at the 1995 EuroBasket finals in Athens - just as the fighting between the two nations was coming to an end.


The Croats, who finished third, received their bronze medals from dignatries before stepping off the podium as the Yugoslavs were about to be presented with their gold medals.


The country, who had until that point been relatively successful throughout their short history, has yet to grace a EuroBasket podium since, despite competing in every edition of the biennial competition since. The came close to breaking the curse in 2013, finishing fourth.


The Talladega Speedway Curse

Something is seriously creepy about the things that have gone down at the famous Alabama race track.

Sporting Curses

During the 1973 Talladega 500, NASCAR Rookie of the Year had a seemingly innocuous solo crash. His injuries, however, were so terrible that he succumbed, whilst during the same race Grand National series champ from three years previous Bobby Isaac parked his car up after voices told him to quit the sport.

Further accidents took place in 1974 when a pitman lost a leg in a freak accident and in 1975 when another crew member died as a result of an air tank exploding.


In 1996, Automobile Racing Club of America President Bob Loga died in an accident in the car park, but perhaps creepiest is the death of Davey Allison who dies in 1993 when the helicopter he was travelling in crashed on the track. Six years previously, his father Bobby had miraculously survived a dramatic crash that saw his car go air-bourne and the feeling has been that the curse came back to reclaim his son.

Origins of the curse vary but all have a Native American twist. Some say the track was built upon an old Indian burial ground, whilst others say a Native American chief was killed in a horse race on the land the track lies.

Hibs - The Irish Gypsy Curse

Another 'curse' that was lifted in 2016 came after Hibernian FC captured their first Scottish Cup in 114 years after beating Rangers in the final at Hampden Park.

There are various strands to what might be the one tale, but the most popular story seems to surround Harry Swan, the former Hibs chairman and the first non-Irish Catholic to hold the post at the Leith club. It is said that a curse was put on the club by an Irish gypsy woman offended by Swan's decision to remove the image of an Irish harp from the South Stand at Easter Road in the 1950s.

Sporting Curses

The club decided to reinstate the symbol at the beginning of the 2015-16 season and low and behold, the curse was broken only months later.

Moral of the story. Don't mess with the Irish!

The Masters Par 3 Tournament

It's the one no-one wants to win and last Wednesday, England's Matt Wallace became the latest victim of the famous Augusta National Par 3 curse.

Since it's inception in 1960, no player has pulled on the famous green jacket in the same year that they tasted success in the traditional pre-cursor.

The curse has led to some golfers going to extreme lengths to ensure they wouldn't win either by disqualifying themselves by getting friends or family to play shots, or indeed by deliberately sabotaging their chances.

Raymond Floyd is the man who has come closest to breaking the curse. The American won the Par 3 contest in 1990 before losing out on a playoff in the main competition.

Irish man Shane Lowry managed a hole-in-one during this year's tournament and Padraig Harrington, the mad man, has managed to win the thing on three occasions. Sharing with David Toms in 2003 and Jonathan Byrd in 2012 and winning on his own in 2004.

Rathfarnham men have no time for curses. Safe to say Páidi never saw the green jacket, mind.

SEE ALSO: The Game Of Thrones Soundness Rankings - Week 1

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