Jim Lyon - Let winners enjoy the moment you misery guts

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
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It is not something I am all that familiar with but, I am told, the winning feeling is what playing sport is all about.

A life as a mediocre sportsman has meant the box of trophies that have been stashed at my Mum’s house since I was 14 has not needed to increase in size too much during adulthood.

And coming from Northamptonshire – as well as having more than a passing interest in the less successful north London Premier League football club – means my time as a supporter has been more likely to involve a Wagon Wheel than a bandwaggon.

Nevertheless, I am assured that winning feeling is something quite special.

So it has always puzzled me that celebration is frowned upon so often.

In football you can cheat, swear and try to cause physical injury and, quite often, you will get away with it.

But woe betide the man who, having scored the title-winning goal in the fourth minute of injury-time, decides to enjoy the moment and perhaps remove his shirt. The shame of it!

This week, it was cycling that took on the role of misery guts. And, to make matters worse, it involved ‘one of ours’.

Northamptonshire lass Hannah Barnes – the quickest thing to come out of Towcester since Graeme Swann’s wit – had victory over Olympic champion Laura Trott taken away from her for ‘dangerous riding’.

After a photo finish showed she had won, she was demoted to second with first place given to Trott.

Her crime? To celebrate her win by taking her hands from the handlebar as she crossed the line.

Presumably, on that basis, Sally Gunnell’s Olympic gold will be taken back because of her dangerous running, all Frankie Dettori’s wins will be scrubbed for dangerous dismounting and Dennis Taylor is no longer a former World Snooker Champion on account of his dangerous finger wagging.

The organisers eventually realised they had made themselves look like prunes and reversed the decision.

By then, though, they had incurred the wrath of many in the sport including Mark Cavendish who described the move as ‘disgraceful’.

Trott’s reaction, to her eternal credit, was: “Hannah won fair and square. Fair play to her!”.

We can only hope the publicity at least raises the profile of Barnes – described by one national paper as ‘the fastest cyclist you have never heard of’ – as she works so hard to make her way among the elite.

The reasons for the decision were undoubtedly deeper than the official announcement.

However, it is a shame that a dedicated sports person’s enjoyment of a moment of hard-earned success is once again tarnished.

Those lucky enough to sample that sweet taste of victory should relish it all they can.

For me, I’ll look forward to avoiding relegation on the playing field and save a quiet tut and a slight shrug of the shoulders for the next time the team I support finishes ninth.

Oh, for the chance to be told off for celebrating.