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Auckland's collapse as the provincial rugby superpower has been spectacular, but they are in good company.

Auckland rugby - serious blues

Once the most glamorous rugby province in the world, Auckland has turned into a disaster zone. They crushed allcomers from the late 1980s to the early days of openly professional rugby, and were at the heart of New Zealand's first World Cup triumph. But the era of Sean Fitzpatrick, Zinzan Brooke and Co seems like a universe away. Nowadays, any rising All Black prospect is best advised to run a mile.

Liverpool soccer - red faced


Liverpool, once the kings of English and European soccer, have not won the Premier League since its game-changing inception in 1992. Liverpool rose to the heights under two legendary managers and have crashed in comparison although many clubs would still envy them. Unlike Manchester United, who also fell into a hole, Liverpool failed to find a new messiah.

Windies cricket - no Gayle and little puff

The scariest cricket team ever appeared destined to go on forever after Clive Lloyd moulded them into winners, fired by an anger towards their old colonial masters. The Windies were stacked with superstars and undefeated for 15 glorious years, the arrival of Malcolm Marshall in a second wave suggesting the fearsome pace attack would never falter. But it did, along with the batting. An inept administration at loggerheads with the absent Chris Gayle and rise of American sport - particularly basketball - are factors in the decline.

American heavyweight boxing - counted out

Main cast: Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, Evander Holyfield. Supporting acts: too many to mention. But the Yanks haven't had a decent contender let alone a true champ for a decade and the days of their heavyweights being global figures are a punch drunk memory.

St George league - saints and winners

Set an impossible-to-continue standard of 11 consecutive titles up until 1966. Immortals such as Reg Gasnier and Johnny Raper emerged in this golden era which ended, significantly, when the limited tackle rule came in. The latter-day dynasties are parked a long way from Sydney but none come close to this mob. St George - now merged with Illawarra - still have the coolest retro kit and pop up on the honours board now and then. Boston Celtics - green turns redA powerhouse until the mid-1980s, with stars aplenty led by Bill Russell and Larry Bird. The Celtics won 11 championships in 13 years, and eight in a row in their prime. They were also at the forefront of welcoming black players into the NBA ranks. The Celtics set a standard impossible to maintain. They were hit by the deaths of two star players and have won only one championship since 1986. North American sports aficionados will demand the Montreal Canadians hockey team get a mention here - the crushers on ice have been lukewarm for a couple of decades.

American men's tennis - the chips are down

Bill Tilden, Don Budge, Pancho Gonzales, Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick ... Mardy Fish. Says it all.

Australian tennis - no second serve

A very mysterious business. The proud sporting nation has lost the plot with tennis - anticipated revivals never arrive. Remember the glory days: Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong, Lew Hoad, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewell, Roy Emerson. Now the Aussies are forced to adopt Kim Clijsters, from Belgium, as Aussie Kim. The last big hope, Lleyton Hewitt, started brilliantly but didn't go on with the job.

American Ryder Cup team - leaders bored no more

The Ryder Cup contest has awoken in magnificent fashion thanks to the collapse of America's dominance. The US teams ruled absolutely for half a century but since the Brits turned all European Community-like 30-odd years ago, the Americans have fallen behind. Some of the recent battles have been controversially hot, unlike Tiger Woods whose poor team form has hastened the fall of this dynasty.

New Zealand middle distance running - from Walker to walking pace

Jack Lovelock started the tradition and Peter Snell, John Walker, Murray Halberg, Dick Quax, Rod Dixon and Co kept the dynasty going in medal-winning and record-breaking style. Now the mighty chain is down to a strand named Nick Willis. A burst of outstanding women runners, led by Anne Audain, Allison Roe and Lorraine Moller, was just that. Even Willis, an Olympic silver medallist, has failed to fire the public's imagination like the stars of old. Once his career winds down, it will be over and out for the Lovelock legacy.