Born and bred in the golfing mecca of Troon, Neill Collins knows all about the capricious nature of sport, writes James Shield.
The Sheffield United centre-half was only five years old when Greg Norman seemed destined to win 1989’s Open Championship before a chaotic finish saw Mark Calcavecchia lift the Claret Jug instead. But, with stories about those dramatic events along its 18th fairway seared into the consciousness of everyone familiar with this famous old course, Collins is not going to give-up on his dream of automatic promotion just yet.
“In sport if you think something is going to happen, it usually doesn’t,” Collins, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Portsmouth, said. “So we must fulfil our side of the bargain by winning games.”
Chris Morgan, United’s manager, cut a defiant figure after Tuesday’s extraordinary draw with Brentford ended with the race for League One’s automatic promotion places being wrestled from his team’s control.
“I believe,” Morgan said. “That we’ll enter the final match with a chance of the top two.”
Collins, a member of the Leeds side which climbed out of this division in dramatic circumstances three seasons ago, echoed those sentiments after watching United fell five points behind Bournemouth with a match in hand.
Although the visitors will be missing Harry Maguire at Fratton Park following his red card against Brentford, referee Keith Stroud’s decision to also dismiss Tony Craig and Clayton Donaldson could arguably have greater impact upon fortunes at Griffin Park.
“At Leeds, we thought we’d blown it at half-time in the last match,” Collins said. “Then, in the second, everything quickly changed.”