We’re number 16 . . . out of 20! And we couldn’t be happier!
During our trip to London, Joe and I got to see a Premiere League Football (Soccer to us) Match. It was Chelsea vs. Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge Stadium, Chelsea’s home turf. When the game ended in a tie (1-1), Huddersfield fans went crazy with happiness and Huddersfield players collapsed on the field in tears of joy.
Why was a tie so great for Huddersfield?
It means they get to stay in the Premier League, rather than being relegated to the lower league. This is a big deal, especially since they just made it into the Premier League at the end of last year.
“We’re staying up, sir! We’re staying up!” came the chant from the Huddersfield fans.
One of the most fun things about the game was listening to the chants of the Huddersfield fans. The picture above shows them at the end of the match. Throughout the game this group of fans, a very small percentage of the people in the stands out-cheered all of the Chelsea fans who filled the rest of the stadium.
I couldn’t understand most of what they were singing, but they were loud and kept up the chanting through the whole game. It must give such a lift to the players to receive such encouragement even when they’re not playing at home.
It’s not a good recording, but here’s what it sounded like a few minutes after Huddersfield scored the first goal of the game.
In this game, Huddersfield was up against the team that won the league championship last year. It’s not quite David versus Goliath, but Chelsea’s top paid player makes £200,000 per week. Several make more than £100,000 per week. Huddersfield’s top players are paid £10,000 per week, and Huddersfield fans appreciate that the chairman of the team decided to keep ticket prices low, rather than raise them once they made the Premiere League.
If Huddersfield lost, they would be relegated. They didn’t have to win to stay in, they just had to tie. But Chelsea was highly motivated to win. At the time of the game they were #5 in the league. The top 4 teams get to play in the European Champions Cup.
The game ended in a tie. And when it did, Huddersfield fans were really, really happy. I’ve never seen or heard anyone so happy to have tied, or basically not to be at the very bottom of the ranking. For them to stay in means there are just three teams with worse records. They’re number 16 out of 20. And they’re ecstatic.
There’s a lesson in here, maybe especially for us who are members of the very small Episcopal Church. People have studied Olympic medalists and found that bronze medal winners tend to be much happier than silver medalists. They’re Olympic medalists! Silver medalists see themselves as the people who didn’t win the gold. Dale Earnhardt said, “Second place is just the first place loser.”
Tell that to Huddersfield.
William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943) said, “If at first you don’t succeed, find out if the loser gets anything.”
Watching the jubilant crowd, hearing their chants, it was easy to feel like Huddersfield’s achieving #16, or #4 from the bottom, was winning the whole thing. Or maybe they’re losers who find out they get something great. They get to keep playing.
Joe was just happy to be there.