Make hay, Bale

DERREN Brown predicting the lottery numbers? Ha. That’s nothing. My friends, a truly remarkable event has happened this afternoon. Gareth Bale has appeared on the winning side in a Premier League game.

Yes, the winning numbers have finally come up for football’s answer to Unlucky Alf from the Fast Show. Bale played the final six minutes of Tottenham’s win over Burnley this afternoon.

OK, OK. Spurs were already 4-0 by the time that he came on as a substitute for Aaron Lennon. But they ended up winning 5-0 – so surely no one can deny that Bale had a positive impact.

And so ends a statistical quirk that would have had even Brown scratching his head. Since joining Tottenham from Southampton in 2007, Bale had played 24 Premier League games – winning none. No player had ever had to wait so many games for a first Premier League win.

(It isn’t, though, the individual record for the longest run of Premier League appearances without a victory full stop. Kenny Miller played 29 consecutive top-flight games without being on the winning side during Derby’s embarrassing relegation campaign two seasons ago. He had, however, won Premier League games before.)

And yet, weirdly, Bale had featured in 11 cup wins for Spurs over the same period (out of 18 games), including Wednesday night’s 5-1 Carling Cup victory at Preston. That was his first appearance of the season, having sat out the opening few weeks while recovering from a knee injury. When Tottenham won their first four league games of the campaign without him, Bale really could have been forgiven for feeling sorry for himself.

Well, the Bale curse has finally lifted on his 25th Premier League appearance. And although Burnley fans probably won’t agree with me, I believe this is a cause for celebration. For if Gareth Bale can be on the winning side in a Premier League game, then anything is possible.

I feel that someone, somewhere, should be penning an uplifting Whitney Houston-style power ballad about this moment right now, to be performed by the winner of this year’s X Factor. It has Christmas No.1 written all over it.

But of course, life’s lucky coin has two sides, and for every winner, there must be a loser. So while we can share Bale’s joy this evening, we must also feel a pang of sympathy for Giles Barnes. For if anyone needs a montage of their greatest moments, and a consling hug from Ant and Dec, it is the Derby County midfielder, to whom Bale’s record now passes.

Barnes has played 21 Premier League matches, and is still waiting for his first win. With Derby in the Championship, and with Barnes recovering from an Achilles injury, that run is unlikely to end any time soon. Luck, my friends, cannot be everywhere at once.

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