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From Odsal to the Oval…you can't beat this for drama

Carl Hicks Carl Hicks | 19:05 UK time, Tuesday, 25 September 2007

What with Jose's departure, Yuvraj's six sixes, Tim's tearful farewell, Ronan's woes, Jonny's latest return, Hope's hopes ended, Casey's world title and Lee the master - it's not been a bad week for sporting headlines.

But I think I can, perhaps uniquely, claim to have witnessed the two most dramatic sporting events of even this weekend of weekends.

The first was on Friday night at Odsal in the Super League play-offs when Wigan Warriors came from 30-6 down with 25 minutes to play to shock the Bradford Bulls and the home fans with an incredible 31-30 victory.

As you may have seen on our BBC TWO highlights show, or on the Super League show for BBC North, North West and digital viewers - Aussie Trent Barrett was the hero for the Warriors, as he dragged his side off of the floor and back into the match with a stunning display of handling and kicking. However, it was winger Mark Calderwood who stole the headlines with a hat-trick of tries and caused a few rewrites in the press box after his two drops from kicks had led to a try.

No side had ever recovered from such a deficit in play-off history. Our guest on the highlights show was Wigan coach Brian Noble who had previously coached the Bulls to three Grand final triumphs. He talked of momentum swings and never-say-die spirit but when such things happen it almost defies explanation. I'm sure though that Brian kissed the cat when he got home.

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The Wigan fans will now head for Hull this weekend with the belief that they can become the lowest ever placed side to reach a Grand Final. Highlights of that match and the battle for an automatic Final spot between St Helens and Leeds Rhinos can be seen on Sunday, BBC TWO at 12.00pm. The Super League Show is on BBC ONE North at 2.35pm.

The second part of my dramatic weekend came at The Oval on Saturday, as Lancashire chased 489 in the fourth innings to beat Surrey and become Country Champions for the first time in either 73 years or 57 if you count the title they shared with last week's opponents in 1950.

Like many cricket-loving Lancastrians living in London, I had thought all hope had gone before the final day as Surrey, or more particularly Mark Ramprakash, seemed to have batted the Red Rose county out of the game as Durham and then Sussex claimed victories.

But after my kids' morning swimming lesson, a glance at Ceefax brought a glimmer of hope - Lancashire 190 odd for 2 and Stuart Law and VVS Lancsman (as we now know him) both going well.

So kids, buttie boxes, drinks and cuddly toys were all quickly loaded up and 'Operation History Made My Son' was back on!

This scene was being repeated in hundreds of homes over London it seems, as Lancy dads dashed with their lads in the hope that they'd be there for the moment we finally clinched a Championship.

As we entered the ground, Laxman fell for exactly 100, but as long as the Lawman was in, we were definitely on course - or so the chat went around the Pavillion End where the kids ran free as dads chewed their fingernails.

Unlike the 25 minutes of mayhem on Friday this was a slow, torturous death for our dreams. Every run was cheered from around 260 still needed to win and cries of "Oh Lanky, Lanky" echoed around Vauxhall.

Law went, Stev Croft went, tea came and went, but the Man City fans due at Fulham for the 5.15 kick-off stayed as Luke Sutton, Glen Chapple, Saj Mahmood and Dominic Cork kept up the chase. Even my two-year-old daughter joined the nervous chorus of "C'mon Corky" as the target came down - 80, 70, 60, 50 40, 30…. a whole season down to the final session.

Of course it was not to be, as Corky went with just 25 more needed. Our pain was glory for Sussex, but everyone of us who made the dash will tell you for ever - that they were there the day Lancashire NEARLY won the Championship after 74 years.

Was anyone out there at both these events? As the legendary Sid Waddell once said; "There's Shakespeare on Radio 2 but you can't beat this for drama" - and from Odsal to The Oval we couldn't agree more.

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