John Cameron: Sporting comebacks to remember

A Guildhall vigil for victims of the Manchester bombing. Picture: Keith Woodland

BLAISE TAPP: Finding some light in the darkest of times for Britain

  • Antiques expert John appears on TV shows including Cash In The Attic and Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is and also runs Nesbits auction house in Southsea. E-mail auctions@nesbits.co.uk or call (023) 9229 5568.
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Last weekend, my wife and I watched much of Saturday’s America’s Cup events from my uncle’s rooftop terrace on Clarence Parade.

We were joined that evening by my cameraman friend Scott Drummond. Last week he was part of the team shadowing Sir Ben Ainslie for a documentary in the making.

Are these outcomes against all odds just down to luck or evidence of human self-belief and refusal to give up?

My wife and I had just happened to be on holiday in San Francisco when the 2013 America’s Cup was being contested between Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle and were witness, in my opinion, to one of the greatest sporting comebacks in history.

At 8-1 down in a first-to-9 contest, Team Oracle took the radical decision to replace local tactician John Kostecki with England’s Olympic hero Sir Ben Ainslie, who helped the team to an astonishing 9-8 victory.

This remarkable feat cannot be overstated and as we watched the race through binoculars we tried to find similar mammoth sporting comebacks.

Scott and I had worked together on an episode of Celebrity Cash In The Attic, when we filmed with one half of a duo that claimed the 1981 Sports Personality of the Year award after winning the Grand National.

At the height of his career in 1979, jump jockey Bob Champion was diagnosed with testicular cancer and at one point he was given six months to live.

The horse he rode to victory was a 10-year-old gelding called Aldaniti, who had been plagued with injury problems including damaged tendons and a fractured hock bone.

Many thought his career was over and he wouldn’t race again.

But race again he did, winning arguably the toughest race in the world, cementing a place in the record books and the hearts of a nation.

Are these outcomes against all odds just down to luck or evidence of human self-belief and refusal to give up?

I recalled the 2009-10 football season when Pompey had lost our manager Harry Redknapp, and most of our team, to Spurs.

Then, in an ironic twist of fate, we faced Harry and Spurs in the semi-final of the FA Cup.

It seemed we were doomed and virtually nobody gave Pompey a chance.

Before the game I prayed to God for a sign and a David and Goliath-type result.

For me, that 2-0 win ranks as my favourite Pompey game ever, putting to rest the ghost of Harry and silencing the doubters.

That was my 40th birthday year and after the game my wife asked what I would like for my birthday.

I remembered my promise to God, and replied: ‘You’d better make it a crucifix necklace pendant.’

To this day, I never leave home without it.

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