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Duration:03:29
Uploaded:2018-05-01
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In which John talks about the keys to winning in life, sports, and everything else while discussing The Walsall Event.

AFC WImbledon's survival in League One is coming down to the last couple games, and boy am I tense. But in this video I wanted to talk about how luck and support matter hugely when it comes to success, so does Barry Fuller picking up the ball and running it back to the center circle.

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Good morning, Hank. It's Tuesday. Today, I want to talk to you about how to win – in life, in sports, in whatever – because I am very nervous right now, and I would like to send some winning energy into the world. Or, at the very least, some tying energy.

But first, a bit of background. So, our community sponsors a third-tier English soccer team called AFC Wimbledon. Specifically, our logo occupies the liminal space between the left thigh and buttock on their uniform. And this has been a really difficult season for Wimbledon. They've lost more games than they've won, and with two games to go, they are currently in 19th place out of 24 teams. And that's a tad worrisome, because the bottom four teams will be relegated and spend next season in the fourth tier of English football.

So, in order for Wimbledon not to get relegated, they need to win or draw one of their last two games, the first of which starts, as I'm recording this, in about an hour. Definitely nervous-making.

But on the other hand, this is definitely the best position Wimbledon has been in for, like, months, largely thanks to the Walsall Event. It's amazing how an entire season of football, or really any endeavor, can come down to ridiculously little things. Like, Hank, I often think that if your Harry Potter song hadn't been featured by YouTube in July of 2007, none of this would exist. Of course, lots of other things had to happen too, so many that I can't name all of them or even know about all of them. We all live, for better and for worse, with what happens to have happened.

But right, the Walsall Event. With five games left in the season, AFC Wimbledon are 2-0 down to Walsall at halftime. The last time Wimbledon came back from a 2-0 deficit was a year and a half earlier, a 2-2 draw against Bury. But then, near the start of the second half, Andy Barcham is fouled, the ensuing penalty is saved, but the rebound happens to fall to Joe Pigott who scores. And then, in the 65th minute, Lyle Taylor scores a beautiful goal and the comeback is complete: 2-2.

Everyone celebrates: huzzah, huzzah! Except wait, hold on, roll that back. Right there. You see that guy picking up the ball? That's Wimbledon's captain, Barry Fuller. And he's doing that to run the ball back to the center circle to get the game restarted as quickly as possible. Now, time added on to the end of the half by the referee is supposed to account for all of this, but in practice everyone knows you can save a few seconds by running the ball back.

So while everyone else was justifiably celebrating the completion of their comeback, Wimbledon's captain was like, "Hold on, guys, we can still win this." And I mean, we're talking here about at most 15 seconds. That is 1/360 of the game. But as it happened, that was a vital 1/360, because in the final seconds of the game, Lyle Taylor was fouled in the box. Dean Parrett scored a penalty, and Wimbledon won the game 3-2. That meant three points added to their season total instead of one, three points that here, at the end of the season, look like they might be absolutely essential.

So, why did the Walsall event happen? It happened because of accurate shooting, because of a referee's decisions, because the ball bounced one way and not the other. But it also happened because Barry Fuller picked the ball up and ran it back to the center circle, even though he knew that by doing that, he was only increasing Wimbledon's chances of winning by some fraction of a percent.

There is so much luck in this world, and none of us should ever forget that. And we also all have to depend on the good judgment of strangers and help from our friends and colleagues and teammates. But also, you have to hope, and you have to go on. Even when you've lost more games than you've won and you've been down so far that a tie feels like winning, you have to pick up the ball and run it back to midfield and believe, in spite of it all, that this game is still winnable.

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.