There are more losers than winners in sport, and I have to say I very often find their stories and motivations the more interesting.
So I could not let this strange, forlorn English summer pass without writing about a team that must rank among the foremost serial losers in sports history: the 1920 iteration of Derbyshire County Cricket Club.
As I sit here, it is almost exactly a century since the following headline appeared in the columns of the Western Mail: “Derbyshire lose their last match in Weston".
This defeat versus Somerset at a seaside holiday resort best known for its donkeys meant that the team had contrived to go through an entire County Championship season while losing every single match in which they had taken the field.
This in a sporting format – long-form cricket – in which draws are commonplace, and may often be procured by sides who have been outplayed comprehensively, sometimes with help from the fickle British weather.
The one game in this disastrous season which Derbyshire did not actually lose, indeed, was a clash in Chesterfield with local rivals Nottinghamshire that was abandoned without a ball being bowled over the entire scheduled three days’ play.
By whatever yardstick, the team’s performance-level, during what was the county club’s 50th anniversary season, seems to have been consistently woeful.
None of their seventeen defeats was exactly close.
Selection was inconsistent even for a losing side, with no fewer than 39 players used during the course of the summer.
Of those 39, a jaw-dropping 28 mustered a batting average below 10 runs per innings.
By way of comparison, Donald Bradman, the Australian acknowledged as the greatest batsman to have lived, averaged 99.94 in international, or Test, matches over the course of a 20-year career.
All too typical was a performance against Warwickshire deemed to warrant the headline, "Distressful Derbyshire’s Dolorous Display".
The Athletic News reporter, whose sobriquet "Peakite" implies that he was a Derbyshire man, describes the team’s first innings of 80 all out as "soulless and lacking in enterprise".
He goes on: "Not a single boundary hit was recorded during the course of the two-and-a-quarter hours which the innings occupied."
The most runs scored between fall of wickets was 18.
Yet the thing is, this Derbyshire side does not look as bad on paper as its shocking run of results would imply.
Yes, they were deprived almost entirely of the services of 45-year-old Billy Bestwick, the volatile miner’s son who was the best bowler produced by the county in the early part of the 20th century.
Bestwick featured in only one match of the woebegone 1920 campaign.
But two solid old pros, Arthur Morton and Sam Cadman, stepped into the breach, snagging the combined tally of 147 wickets at an average of little more than 20.
This pair were also among the select group whose batting averages attained double figures, while Morton scored one of just two Derbyshire centuries during the season.
Another star in the making was Harry Elliott, whose first season this was as Derbyshire wicketkeeper after spending much of the First World War in Palestine.
Elliott would go on to play for England, and remained Derbyshire’s stumper when a revitalised county XI won the championship title in 1936 - still the one and only time it has achieved this distinction.
Future captain Guy Jackson, whose war decorations included the French Légion d’Honneur, also played in around half of the 1920 fixtures.
Yet he enjoyed no success at all, averaging a feeble 5.11 with the bat.
It was this near comprehensive batting failure, in what was admittedly a rather damp summer, that was the root of the team’s awfulness.
In another example, captain John Chapman, then aged 43, appears simply to have gone on for a season too long.
His batting average once it was all over was just 7.96, with a top score of 27.
Ten years earlier, he had been good enough to share a partnership with team-mate Arnold Warren which, at 283, remains to this day the record ninth-wicket stand in the history of first-class cricket.
By the end of the season, the team had become, literally, a joke.
"One of these days Swindle [a race horse] will win a race," observed the Daily Herald’s horseracing expert, Templegate, archly, before adding: "I expect it will be about the same day that Derbyshire win the County Cricket Championship."
A letter to the editor of the Derby Daily Telegraph from a certain W.Rose of Macklin Street, meanwhile, was terse and to the point.
"Sir, Derbyshire’s dismal and disappointing record is almost entirely due to not playing the best team.
"Unless the committee are prepared to play the strongest eleven, whether amateurs or professionals, it is probable that Derbyshire will not for long rank as a first-class county."
One of the beauties of sport, however, is that failure need not be permanent.
Next season, under a new captain, and with Bestwick turning out regularly again, Derbyshire won two of their first three matches, eventually finished twelfth, and were firmly back on an upward trajectory.
And while things might not be easy, W.Rose would doubtless take solace from the fact that, one hundred years after s/he wrote that fretful letter, Derbyshire remain a first-class cricket county.
At time of writing, indeed, they are unbeaten in the new Bob Willis Trophy, with a very decent chance of making it to the final at Lord's.
Wouldn’t that be something on the centenary of their lowest ebb?