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Saturday, 4 May, 2002, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Stadium feng shui expert left cursing
Paul Darby
Dr Darby performed the feng shui ceremony in March
A feng shui expert brought in to try to break a "jinx" on a changing room at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is praying his oriental art has failed - because he is a dedicated Arsenal fan.

Dr Paul Darby was brought in by the stadium management in March to try to end a run of teams using the southern changing room at the ground from losing.

Cardiff's Millennium Stadium
Stadium authorities do not believe there is a jinx

The Nottingham-based expert carried out a feng shui blessing to counter-balance the "bad spirits" in one end of the giant stadium ahead of the last major final to be played there.

But it did not prevent the underdogs Cambridge from losing the LDV Vans Trophy to Blackpool.

And it was before he knew that Chelsea had been given the "unlucky" south changing room for Saturday's FA Cup final.

"I'm a lifelong Arsenal fan and I had no idea that Chelsea would be at the unlucky end," said the 45-year-old Gunners fan ahead of the big match.

"It's probably the only time in my career that I hope I have failed."

Football Association chiefs agreed for Dr Darby's skills to be employed at the stadium after a run of eight teams losing once they were allotted the "jinxed" changing room.

The "jinx" has hit Manchester United, Arseanl and Tottenham Hotspur.

I would rather have the white socks rather than the changing rooms

Chelsea's Colin Hutchinson

It started in February last year with the Worthington Cup Fiunal when Birmingham City lost to Liverpool.

Dr Darby found that negative energy from the nearby media room was at the heart of the problem, and carried out a feng shui blessing - involving ringing a bell, carrying incense sticks and throwing sea salt.

Later he even led a horse around the pitch to counter the bad spirits.

"All I did was to balance the spirits in the two ends," said Dr Darby.

"I firmly believe that Arsenal have enough talent to beat Chelsea regardless of any curse," he added predicting a 3-1 win for the Gunners.

However Chelsea are not 'spooked' by the hoodoo - because they have been given the right to wear white socks instead.

Both teams wanted to wear the white socks with their usual kit but Chelsea - who wore the same colour socks when they won the FA Cup twice in 2000 and 1997 - won.

Chelsea managing director Colin Hutchinson said : "I would rather have the white socks rather than the changing rooms."

Paul Darby
Paul Darby: Arsenal fan

"All jinxes are there to be broken. We believe that it is how a team plays on the day that matters most."

Arsenal will have to wear red socks for the final.

However, club secretary David Miles was overjoyed at getting the northern changing rooms rather than the socks.

"We are 1-0 up before a ball has been kicked," he said.

"I'm delighted that that out boys are changing there - it's got to be worth a goal start."

Both the stadium management and the Football League have said they do not believe there is a stadium jinx at all.

But they agree that superstition has always played a part in football.

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See also:

19 Mar 02 | Wales
04 Jan 01 | Wales
07 Aug 01 | Politics
08 Mar 01 | Media reports
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