Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Vince Lombardi was wrong... nice guys don't always finish in last place

Star player: Andrew Trimble

The late Vince Lombardi, legendary American Football coach, continues to be one of sport's most-quoted gurus. The man who guided the Green Bay Packers to five NFL Championships, including victories in Super Bowl I and II, said a great many things before departing this life in September 1970 at the age of 57.

Not all of them were pearls of wisdom, however. One of his most famous quotes was: "Win any way you can, as long as you can get away with it. Nice guys finish last."

That wasn't one of his more enlightened utterances. Nor was "Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser."

My two-word reply to any school of thought espousing the philosophy that nice guys don't win is Andrew Trimble.

The Ulster and Ireland wing has had a season to remember, leading me to believe that had the Lions' tour been this summer rather than last, he would almost certainly have been on it.

What an eight-day run he has just had; at the Heineken Ulster Rugby Awards Dinner at Belfast's Europa Hotel on Saturday May 3, he landed a splendid treble by winning the Bank of Ireland Ulster Player of the Year, Ulster Rugby Writers and Broadcasters' Player of the Year and the Ulster Rugby Supporters Club Player of the Year awards.

On Wednesday night he added a fourth prize to his already-sagging shelf, the Hibernia College IRUPA Players' Player Award, that being the accolade from his contemporaries at the Doubletree by Hilton function in Dublin.

On Sunday, at the 2013-14 RaboDirect PRO12 awards dinner staged at Edinburgh's Lyceum Theatre, he was one of two Ulster players named in the 2013-14 RaboDirect PRO12 Dream Team. The other was Johann Muller, to whom the captaincy was given. Come to think of it, he's a nice guy, too.

So there you have it; in the space of eight days, Trimble was honoured by players, supporters, sponsors and the media, befitting a man who makes a nonsense of Lombardi's suggestion that "nice guys finish last".

In the closing weeks of a season in which he has resurrected his international career by virtue of an outstanding individual contribution to Ireland's 2014 RBS Six Nations Championship triumph with tries against Scotland, Italy and France, he has reaped rewards. Hopefully he and Ulster will enjoy another on May 31.

At the outset, I highlighted what I think were a couple of examples of Lombardi at his worst. So in the interests of fair play, permit me to share one of his better moments when he said: "The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That's real glory; that's the essence of it."

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