A history of the Sunderland Football Club at
http://www.answers.com/topic/sunderland-a-f-c uses both of the phrases "pipped to the post" and "pipped at the post".

The relevant sentences are
Sunderland's first season in their new home yet again involved them being pipped to the post, as they
finished third in a tougher-than-usual Division One.

In the 1999-2000 season, Sunderland finished seventh in the Premiership — their highest finish since 4th place in 1955. Again the team was pipped at the post on the last day of the season, this time missing out on a place in European competition.
The Oxford English Dictionary has under "pip v(3)" definition 1c
c. To anticipate or forestall (someone) in a
particular activity, circumstance, etc.; spec. in phr. to pip at (or on) the post, to defeat by a narrow
margin at the last moment; also ellipt.
This seems to say that "pipped at the post" and "pipped on the post" have the same meaning, but how about "pipped to the post"?
It seems a little strange that a writer would use the two phrases within a paragraph or so in the same discussion without having some different shade of meaning in mind.

Is there a difference, however slight, in connotation?
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A history of the Sunderland Football Club at http://www.answers.com/topic/sunderland-a-f-c uses both of the phrases "pipped to the post" and "pipped ... the same discussion without having some different shade of meaning in mind. Is there a difference, however slight, in connotation?

I'd rate the "to" form a mild solecism I say "mild" perhaps because I'm in an amiable mood, or perhaps because it doesn't appear to affect the meaning, though I wouldn't consider using it.

Mike.
A history of the Sunderland Football Club at http://www.answers.com/topic/sunderland-a-f-c uses both of the phrases "pipped to the post" and "pipped at the post".

Ah, but does it mention that Sunderland was a much-derided pioneer of commercialism and the buying-in of non-local players?

In the early days, fans of opposing teams used to shout 'Play up, Scotland!', a reference to the number of Scots mercenaries employed by Sunderland.
(See 'Oop for t' Coop' in History Today , May 2005, which article also reveals that Northern Chippiness/Southern Snootiness - delete according to taste - was alive and kicking in 1872, the year of Sir Charles Clegg's debut for England. Sir Charles, a solicitor from Sheffield, complained that the 'snobs from the south' who dominated the team never gave him the ball. I say, Sir Charles! Never complain, never explain, what. There's always a black ball waiting for chaps who snivel if that's what they really want. What, what.)

Mickwick
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(See 'Oop for t' Coop' in History Today , May 2005, which article also reveals that Northern Chippiness/Southern Snootiness ... explain, what. There's always a black ball waiting for chaps who snivel if that's what they really want. What, what.)

I wonder if Sir Chuck was using "snob" in one of its older senses, which was indeed used de haut en bas, meaning something very like "oik".

Mike.
A history of the Sunderland Football Club at http://www.answers.com/topic/sunderland-a-f-c uses both of the phrases "pipped to the post" and "pipped ... two phrases within a paragraph or so in the same discussion without having some different shade of meaning in mind.

You're talking English football journalism here, Bob. It's not strange at all. (If you're not aware of it already, check out the Colemanballs section at www.private-eye.co.uk for a taster.)
Is there a difference, however slight, in connotation?

I've only ever heard/read "pipped at the post" and I'd consider "to" to be an error I'd certainly change it to "at" if I saw it when editing. As for "on", that sounds like a non-native speaker's utterance.
ObFooty: So now it's "MUSC" not OK.

Ross Howard
Sunderland's first season in their new home yet again involved them being pipped to the post, as they finished third ... at the post on the last day of the season, this time missing out on a place in European competition.

The first instance is non-standard usage, the second is standard usage, as confirmed by the phrase's origin in horse racing. A horse pipped at the post is overtaken by another horse at the end of the race i.e. just before they reach the winning post (marker for the finishing line.)

It was unwise to apply this phrase from racing to soccer. Both sports events usually generate a winner but that is the only similarity. (No winning post in soccer, no second and third prizes in soccer. The names for a decision with no winner are very different, dead heat and draw.)

Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
This seems to say that "pipped at the post" and "pipped on the post" have the same meaning, but how about "pipped to the post"?

Pipped 'at' the post is easier on my ear than pipped 'on' the post, and pipped 'to' the post is "impossible".
Sunderland's first season in their new home yet again involved ... this time missing out on a place in European competition.

The first instance is non-standard usage, the second is standard usage, as confirmed by the phrase's origin in horse racing. ... and third prizes in soccer. The names for a decision with no winner are very different, dead heat and draw.)

But sports writing does make very particular demands. If you aren't Neville Cardus or that West Indian genius whose name briefly but shamefully escapes me, it's tough to make readable writing out of something so formulaic. It's quite commonplace to lift expressions from one sport into accounts of another, and it's often striking enough for a daily paper: I'd never condemn it out of hand. I think "pipped at the post" is quite acceptable, cliché though it is, for a last-minute reversal in any athletic sport; but I'd want it reserved for such dramatic occasions.

Mike.
But sports writing does make very particular demands. If you aren't Neville Cardus or that West Indian genius whose name briefly but shamefully escapes me,

CLR James?

John Hall
"I don't even butter my bread; I consider that cooking." Katherine Cebrian
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