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The Nearly Men: 10 of the best who tried but failed

by Sean Goff | July 9, 2012
Andy Murray

SO NEAR YET SO FAR – Murray leaves Centre Court as a nearly man on Sunday (pic: Inpho)

Andy Murray’s heart-breaking loss to Roger Federer in the Men’s final at Wimbledon yesterday is in danger of making him one of sport’s most recognised nearly men. Murray is now 5/4 in Paddy Power’s online betting NOT to win a Grand Slam. But Murray can look on the bright side despite losing his fourth Grand Slam final.

Last Sunday’s opponent Roger Federer also lost four final before going on to win EIGHT titles, and Murray is rated a 4/7 shot with Paddy Power to eventually break his duck. Here we look at other ‘nearly men’ who will forever live in a winner’s shadow.

1. Andy Murray

No fairytale end for the Scot as he was beaten in his fourth Grand Slam final. Ironically Federer suffered the same fate before his 2003 breakthrough win against Mark Philippoussis and has gone on to record 17 Grand Slam titles. Murray will now have to steel himself for the Olympics and the US Open for which he is 11/2 and 5/1 respectively in Paddy Power’s online betting.

Jimmy White

WHITE WASH: Jimmy looks as if he contested Six World Snooker Finals and never won one (Pic: Inpho)

2. Jimmy White

 The ‘Whirlwind’ as he was affectionately known was the golden boy of snooker in the early 80s and early 90s. Cut from the same cloth as Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, White’s snooker relied on a hustler’s gut instinct and cunning. Sadly, this wasn’t enough to get him over the line in six World Finals where he finished runner-up between 1984 and 1994.

3. Colin Montgomerie

Best player never to win a Major dogs a top golfers’ career like an actor who never wins an Oscar. Former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie will go to his grave knowing that his five Major runner-up spots, Tour titles and eight European Order of Merit awards will never make up for what his career so richly deserved.

4. Richard Johnson

How ‘Dickie’ Johnson must hate the words AP McCoy. The affable English rider would be Champion Jumps Jockey many times over if it wasn’t for National Hunt’s Iron Man. One of only three jump jocks to win all four Cheltenham Championship races (Barry Geraghty & Ruby Walsh are the others), Johnson consistently records 100 winners or more a season and is widely recognised as one of the most stylish pilots of his generation. But as McCoy bids for his 17th consecutive title this season, Johnson will continue to see the backside of his breaches gallop away from him.

5. Frank Bruno

Undoubtedly one of Britain’s most loved sportsman, boxer Frank ‘Glass jaw’ Bruno did realise his dream and beat Oliver McCall to claim the WBC Heavyweight title in 1995 but should really have been a multiple champion. Mike Tyson swiped his crown six months later to add to earlier World title defeats by Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Tim Witherspoon. Boxing’s loss was panto’s gain.

6. Tyson Gay

Gay should be the fastest sprinter the world has ever seen but the American has almost been relegated to bit-part player by Usain Bolt. Three-time US champion in the land of the free and only one of three men (along with Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell) to beat Bolt over 100m. Despite his amazing ability, Gay will continue to live in Bolt’s shadow until he wrestles the gold medal from his neck at the London Olympics.

7. Dan Marino

Legendary American football quarter-back, Marino made his debut for The Miami Dolphins in 1983 and he and his No 13 jersey retired in 1999. Despite holding every passing record in the NFL and being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003, Dan The Man never won the Superbowl.

8. Ryan Giggs

Ryan Joseph Wilson as he was born but later took his mother maiden’s name is the most decorated player in the English game. Hailed as the next George Best when he made his debut for Manchester United aged 17  in March 1991, the Welshman has won domestic honour in the game but has never graced the world stage as the country of his birth has yet to qualify for a major championship. Will captain Team GB football team at London 2012.

9. James Wade

James ‘The Machine’ Wade (aka, the Gladiator and the Spectacular) has made 10 appearances at Darts World Championship but has yet to reach the final. Narrowly beaten by Raymond ‘Barney’ van Barneveld’ in 2009 in the semi’s he went agonisingly close this year when pipped 6-5 by Adrian Lewis. Despite World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and Premier League titles to his name he has yet to land the big one. Sure to be on the premises when the World Matchplay starts on Saturday week.

Conor Mortimer

BLOWOUT: Conor Mortimer will want to end Mayo’s Croke Park hoodoo (Pic: Inpho)

10. Mayo

An Irish angle to end with sees Mayo’s Gaelic Football team prop up the ‘nearly-men list. Despite gifted players like Conor Mortimer and many Connaught championships, Mayo haven’t been able to break their Croke Park hoodoo since 1951. They went close in 1989 narrowly losing to Cork ( 0-17 to 1-11) on their first appearance in 38 years. In 1996 they squandered a six-point lead to draw with Meath and were beaten in the replay by one point. Another final in 2004, another loss, this time to Kerry and history repeated itself in 2006. Will 2012 be their year?

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