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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 June, 2003, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
These things take time
By Dan Warren

Although Northern Ireland's goalless draw against Spain was extremely creditable, it marked another game in which Sammy McIlroy's men failed to find the net.

It means they have now gone 972 minutes of competitive football without seeing the ball fly into the goal.

It is a mighty long time. And one cannot help but wonder what they could have been doing in the time since a referee last signalled a Northern Ireland goal.

1: Watch the entire second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, pictured in a more peaceful moment
Sarah Michelle Gellar is popular among non-scoring men
The second series documenting the zombie-crushing antics of Buffy et al is exactly 972 minutes long.

And if the Ireland boys were to tune in for the duration, it would not be the first time a bunch of men who cannot score for toffee have been transfixed for hours by the high-kicking antics of Sarah Michelle Gellar.

2: Fly from the USA to Australia, then celebrate with some music.

A trans-Pacific journey from Los Angeles to Melbourne will take 16 hours. And, after such an epic trek, it would seem appropriate to listen to all 12 minutes of The Doors oedipal rock wig-out frenzy The End, to bring up the magical 972-minute mark.

3: Repair one broken exhaust stud on the number one cylinder of a 92 Maxima SE Five Speed.

One for the petrol heads out there. Anyone who takes on this mighty task can expect it to take at least 16 hours, according to some bloke who was writing about it on the internet that I found.

The other 12 minutes can be spent neatly arranging the 10mm socket/wrench, 12 mm socket/wrench, 10 mm hex socket (head bolts), 6 mm hex socket (intake manifold and collector, fuel rail), torque wrenches and other assorted tools like pliers and screwdrivers that you'll need for the task.

4: Win the deciding set of the 2000 French Open, then wallow in your own glory by watching it again, in its entirety, nine more times.

Gustavo Kuerten's epic final set in winning the 2000 French Open lasted one-tenth as long as the current Northern Ireland barren spell
"972 minutes?!? That makes me laugh. A-ha ha ha."
Admittedly a rather specific task, and only really possible if you are Gustavo Kuerten and the date is June 2000.

But nonetheless, it is interesting to note that 'Guga's' monstrous one hour 36 minute final set against Magnus Norman was still only one-tenth the length of the current Irish barren spell.

No really, it is.

5: Fly across the Atlantic in a tinpot shed.

In 1919, the first non-stop plane flight across the Atlantic was made by British fliers John Alcock and A.W. Brown on 14 June.

The 1,936-mile (3,115km) trip took 16 hours, 12 minutes or, in English, 972 minutes.

A feat made all the more impressive given that in 1919, people had access to nothing more complex than a few pieces of balsa and a pedal-powered propeller with which to make aeroplanes. Probably.

Northern Ireland hold Spain
11 Jun 03  |  Northern Ireland

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