Analysis: as Liverpool finally end a 30 year wait for a Premier League title, a look at some other notable losing streaks in sport

Losing streaks come in many forms: not winning a competition outright, consecutive losses to several teams or the inability to beat one particular team over a long period of time. Of course, every team goes through the occasional slump, but some slumps have been so extensive that they warrant some extra attention.

Last night, thanks to Chelsea beating Manchester City, Liverpool finally claimed the Premier League title and ended a 30-year wait to be crowned champions. Their failure to win the League has long been a thorn in their side and their victory is set to upset many an opposing soccer fan.

However, Liverpool supporters required much less patience than their Blackburn counterparts. When Blackburn Rovers lifted the Premier League trophy in 1995, it was the first time they had won the league title since 1914, giving them an 81-year gap between titles

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Australia 31, American Samoa 0

But both of these are merely sustained periods without a particular trophy rather than outright losing streaks, as both teams did win matches and other domestic titles in the meantime. It took the better part of two decades for American Samoa to win an international soccer game. The team lost every international match it played for 17 years until finally defeating Tonga in a pre-qualifying game for the 2014 World Cup.

The team holds the distinction of the most one-sided defeat in an international soccer match, when they lost 31-0 to Australia in 2001. This was a new world record for the Socceroos for the most goals scored in an international game, a record which they'd only set 48 hours earlier against Tonga. In just three days, Australia scored 53 goals and conceded none.

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SB Nation assesses the 76's losing streak

The 2014-2015 NBA campaign saw the Philadelphia 76ers create history by playing out a 28 game losing streak. Yet the disappointment of losing reached far beyond the basketball court. Papa John's pizza initially offered a 50% discount on orders the day after a 76ers' win, but had to revisit the qualifications in favour of a more realistic result. They changed the conditions of the promotion so that Philadelphia had to score 90 points for fans to get half off their orders, win, lose or draw. A tough time to be a 76ers and a pizza fan.

Most sporting droughts involve a team winning something and then having to wait a long time to do so again. Until 2016, the Irish rugby team had never beaten the All Blacks. The two teams first played against each other in 1905, during the historic 1905–1906 New Zealand tour of Europe and North America, beating Ireland 15–0. The teams have since played a total of 32 Test matches and there has been several narrow misses for the Irish side, with a 10-10 draw at Lansdowne Road in 1973 and a last-gasp 22-19 loss in Christchurch in 2012. Soldier Field in Chicago was the venue when Ireland wrote their names into the history books by delivering the first ever victory over the All Blacks in 2016. 

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Chicago Cubs' fans react after winning the World Series in 2016

Ireland’s victory came three days after the Chicago Cubs ended a 108-year drought to land US baseball's World Series. Before the 2016 victory over the Cleveland Indians, Chicago had not won since 1908. In the 1989 film Back to the Future: Part II, Marty McFly visited 2015 and, like a Hollywood version of Old Moore’s Almanac, predicted a World Series win for the Chicago Cubs.

When stakes are high, the thoughts of making history and sustaining a losing streak becomes even more terrifying. The Buffalo Bills of the early 1990s were a dynasty dowsed in potential, but came with an equal amount of disappointment. For four straight seasons from 1990 to 1993, they reached the Super Bowl and lost each time. ESPN aired a documentary in 2015, The Four Falls of Buffalo, which recounts their story of how they became legendary losers. 

The reality for many teams is that their best chance of a winning streak is to buy a scratch card and hope they get to meet Marty Whelan

Isn’t making it to a championship enough for greatness? Doesn’t the number of appearances in a final mean something? Well no, not if a team has a habit of losing it. Oh Mayo, of course you’re getting a mention. Perhaps their heartache lies not in the losses themselves, but the manner of them. With own goals, replays and alleged curses, luck just doesn't seem to shine on the green and red. On the other hand, Mayo trump traditional football kingpins Kerry in one aspect of All-Ireland finals: Mayo have lost 13 finals, whereas Kerry have lost 23. It seems that Mayo can’t even win at losing.

No team wants to make history for being part of a losing streak. But the reality for many is that the best chance of a winning streak is to buy a scratch card and hope they get to meet Marty Whelan.


The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ