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Saturday, 11 May, 2002, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
Stoke lay hoodoo to rest
Stoke manager Gudjon Thordarson
Thordarson waves goodbye to dressing room curse

The curse of the south dressing room at the Millennium Stadium had to be broken - and in winning the Division Two play-off final Stoke have become the first to do so.

Eleven teams - ranging from Premiership champions Arsenal to League newcomers Rushden & Diamonds - had been drawn in the south dressing room for various finals - and subsequently tasted the bitter pill of defeat.

Cambridge became victim number 10 when they lost the LDV Vans Trophy final to Blackpool earlier in the season.

A feng shui expert - Paul Darby - had been drafted in prior to that game to try to correct any negative energy.


I looked forward to breaking the curse and I was pleased we got the south dressing room
Stoke boss Gudjon Thordarson

He concluded that the television interview room that backed on to the south dressing room was responsible for creating negative energy - and prior to Stoke's match with Brentford the situation was addressed.

Welsh artist Andrew Vicari came to the ground last Wednesday and painted a red and yellow mural on the wall backing on to the interview room.

The 7ft-high mural features a phoenix, a galloping horse and a glowing sun - all symbols commonly used in feng shui to block negative energy.

But manager Gudjon Thordarson - extremely superstitious by nature - said it was divine inspiration that broke the curse.

"I looked forward to breaking the curse and I was pleased we got the south dressing room," said Thordarson.

"I knew that logic tells us the north dressing room could not be the winning one forever.

"I made time for myself in the dressing room and spoke to the Almighty and we sorted out the dressing room.

"He said to me 'No problem son'."

Blues rest easy

Brentford manager Steve Coppell was less impressed with talk of the curse.

"If you need a goal in the 89th minute it does't matter what dressing room you are in - it won't help you make a run, or win a header.

"It is something journalists have manufactured to make a good story."

A dejected Ijah Anderson is consoled by Brentford manager Steve Coppell
Coppell left cursing the curse

But Bees defender Darren Powell admitted he thought his team were in the box seat once the dressing room draw had been made.

"To be honest when I heard we had the winning dressing room I thought yes, we are going to win now," Powell told BBC Sport Online.

"But as soon as I walked back into the dressing room after the game I said to the lads 'that curse has gone'."

The curse had started with last season's Worthington Cup final when Trevor Francis' Birmingham lost to Liverpool after a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

Blues - now managed by Steve Bruce - will change into their strips for Sunday's Division One play-off final on Sunday in the south dressing room.

But with the mural looking over them the Cardiff's curse appears to have been consigned to history and Bruce's team can take to the field with only Norwich to worry about.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Stoke's Peter Handyside
"It's absolutely fantastic"
Brentford boss Steve Coppell
"The players are really dejected"

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11 May 02 | Eng Div 2
11 May 02 | Eng Div 2
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