Perhaps in this age of Hollywood we have grown accustomed to fantastical stories ending in the most perfect of fashions. Whether it be the underdog team upsetting the odds with one final comeback, or the girl getting the guy she’s always dreamed of, or the young clownfish being reunited with his father; we feel satisfied, relieved and complete that we all got what we wanted in the end.
Sadly, reality sometimes forgets to read the script. When Steven Gerrard announced at the start of the year that he would be leaving his boyhood club Liverpool, with which he had spent his entire career, there was still hope for one final shot at glory. The Premier League would have been preferable, especially after last season’s, ahem, slip-up but it was perhaps a bit out of reach. Not to worry, Liverpool were still very much in the hunt for the FA Cup. As rivals fell around them – Chelsea, Tottenham, Everton and both Manchester clubs, all succumbing before the semi-finals – everything seemed to be falling into place for Liverpool and their captain.
A semi-final with Aston Villa lay between them and a trip to Wembley, a trip that would take place on Gerrard’s thirty-fifth birthday. Not even the greatest screenwriters could have dreamt of such a story. It was more than a coincidence, it was destiny.
Aston Villa, it turns out, aren’t big fans of destiny and ended any hopes of Gerrard winning a trophy in his final season with a 2-1 victory over the Reds. No sooner had the montages of Gerrard accompanied by a swelling soundtrack been put together, they found themselves on the cutting room floor. Sometimes it just isn’t meant to be.
While Gerrard was still getting over his loss, another sporting great was getting back on the horse, literally, for one final shot at glory. When AP McCoy announced that he would retire at the end of April, the racing world was shocked. Arguably the greatest jump jockey of all time, McCoy has been a mainstay on the racing scene for over two decades, but despite his domination of the sport, he has still only ever won its greatest prize once: the Grand National. With that in mind, McCoy promised that if he won it again, he would make that his final run.
This wasn’t some pipedream either. Aboard Shutthefrontdoor, McCoy had a legitimate chance to finish his already illustrious career on the highest of highs. By the time of the race, McCoy and his steed were favourites and the fairy tale ending was seemingly in sight.
Once again it was not to be as McCoy ended up finishing fifth, despite looking comfortable throughout. There was no glorious farewell for twenty-time Champion Jockey, no Aintree send-off for a man who has become synonymous with the sport of racing.
Instead he will end his career at the more modest racecourse of Sandown, but the emotions will undoubtedly be the same.
Perhaps, however, it is for the best that not everyone gets the ending we all want. If a fairy tale starts becoming the norm, does it lose its magic? We need the reality checks from these disappointments, we need the dose of reality, otherwise we’ll forget what a special ending truly is.
While their careers may not have gone out on the glorious high that everyone wanted, here’s hoping that they still manage to live happily ever after.