MANCHESTER DIARY
When Eusebio prayed at grave of Jewish coach

AS a lifelong Manchester City fan, Sarah Kemp has seen her team suffer more than many, until a few years ago.

And, after 20 years spent teaching others how to write, she has put pen to paper herself with her first book, Winning Against The Odds: Beating the Curses of Football.

Cheadle-raised Sarah, who now lives in Nahariya, Israel, said: “I kept hearing about certain teams being cursed.

“I had a vague memory of a curse at Birmingham City, where they got then-manager Barry Fry to wee in all four corners of the ground.

“There were also apparent gypsy curses on Southampton and Derby County, which led people to believe that their form was down to external things rather than not gelling on the pitch.”

Her book focuses on gypsy curses, as well as players’ superstitions, and the so-called curse Bela Guttmann put on his former team Benfica.

After leaving the Portuguese club, whom he had led to back-to-back European Cup victories, the Hungarian Jewish coach allegedly cursed them, declaring “not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champions”.

Since then, they have lost the eight European finals in which they have competed.

“I heard about that through David Bolchover’s book on Guttmann,” Sarah explained.

“Apparently, Eusebio went to Guttmann’s grave in Vienna to pray for the curse to be lifted. It’s an enchanting story.”

Sarah has a link with Portuguese legend, Eusebio, too.

For in 1966, as part of his country’s World Cup preparations, he played in a warm-up match on a pitch at Cheadle’s Brookhead Junior School — where Sarah’s mum taught.

Sarah also writes about Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

“Apparently, every time Ramsey scores, somebody well-known dies soon afterwards,” she added.

Fans on social media have labelled it ‘The Curse of Aaron Ramsey’, with 16 stars having passed away on the same day or shortly after the Welshman scored.

“The craft of writing really appeals to me,” Sarah said.

“I have watched young people write and have success and, because I have so many stories and information in my head, I wanted to share it.”

The former North Cheshire Jewish Primary School pupil moved to London when she was 18 and returned to Manchester in 2000, where she taught at Yesoiday Hatorah Primary School.

Together with husband Jonathan and their four children, Sarah, the daughter of Janice and Charles Bloom, of Cheadle, emigrated to Israel in 2014.


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