The Good, the Sad and the Smugly
| TAVITA |
Last Wednesday… the Carling Cuppa, with several spoonfuls of Bradford sugar and a packet of EPL biscuits.
And this weekend… the FA Cuppa. An extremely tasty English brew with many a biscuit ready to munch.
And the result? Real, old-fashioned football, mates! Record attendances, big headlines and eager anticipation. No more top four second teams. Full houses all over England.
And, would you believe it? Before the recent Man U-West Ham game, the last time more than 71,000 watched a 3rd round FA Cup replay was in 1931.
That’s right…1931! Sir Alex had just turned fiftyish and Harry Rednapp was rescuing Vladivostock Rovers from relegation to the Commissariat Conference East.
In other words, a very, very long time ago.
So, here’s to 2013! And here’s to the FA Cup 4th Round! Boil the kettle and give a quick stir.
The EPL’s for CEO’s but the Cup is made for us watchers.
The good, the sad and the smugly ones. Three of my very best Footy Mates….
Rocky and Ozzie and Jimi!
Rocky’s a good Norwich City man.
He believes in basic goodness and the sanctity of canaries.
He’s the only mate around our way with a yellow tie and bright green socks. They’re the colours of old East Anglia. Yellow for good local turnips and green for a plate of good cabbage. He got them as a student, wandering round the Norfolk fens, feeling lost and not very good.
On sale at discount rates, they were. Sixpence halfpenny a sock back then. When he put them on, the locals cheered.
“You’re one of us!” they told him, “A very good chap in a very good city with a very good yellow football team!”
“I know what’s good for me, mates!” said Rocky and promised he’d never watch Ipswich.
I rang him early yesterday. He’s was lunching on good yellow turnips again with a big fresh plate of bright green cabbage.
“I’m feeling extra good,” he reckoned. “We’re up against non-league Luton Town, who once led the world in plastic pitches and now runs a plastic airport.”
He was full of the spirit of ’59, recalling the goodest of all good sides.
“Nethercott, McCrohan, Thurlow, Butler, Ashman, Crowe, Crossan, Allcock, Bly, Hill, Brennan.”
They were in the 3rd Division then but they knocked out Ilford, Swindon, Manchester United, Cardiff City, Sheffield United and Tottenham and they reached the Cup Semi-Finals.
“And lost to Luton!” I pointed out.
“You’re not a good mate,” said Rocky.
Ossie’s a longtime Leeds man. He believes in the Great Lord Revie.
He lives in Rumah Elland Road on Simpang 1973.
It’s a sad, old, crumbling, empty house at the end of a sadly-deserted street. He’s a sad, old, crumbling empty mate and spends his life on the sofa.
He rarely watches the football, now. He turns out the lights. He lies on his back. He dreams of very old geckos, upside down on the ceiling. He’s given each one a name, as well.
“David Harvey, Paul Reaney, Trevor Cherry, Billy Bremner, Paul Madeley, Norman Hunter, Peter Lorimer, Alan Clarke, Mick Jones, Johnny Giles, Eddie Gray, Terry Yorath (substitute)”
“Wembley ‘73,” he moans. “They were three times 1st Division champs and five times runners-up; all of them internationals; a total GB side, England, Scotland, Wales and an Irish one thrown in…..and the FA Cup Final was waiting…against second division Sunderland! Not a single cap between them!”
“Leeds 0 Sunderland 1!”
He still weeps. He still groans. Then, he gets even sadder. His cuppa’s gone cold and his teapot’s cracked.
Tonight, it’s Tottenham Hotspur at home, but he won’t be putting the kettle on.
Jimi’s a Red-Red man of faith. He believes in Brendan Rogers.
He’s a very contented watcher. When I rang him up, he was Mr. Smug.
“We’ll soon be back where we’re born to be. We’ll start with a win at Wembley this year. We’re one of the red-hot favourites.”
“Like 1988?” I observed.
“Of course,” His Smugness smugly recalled. “That’s when we always won everything.”
“Grobelaar, Nicol, Gillespie, Hansen, Ablett, Houghton, Spackman, McMahon, Barnes, Beardsley, Aldridge.”
I thought I’d better de-smug him.
“You got to the Cup Final, too,” I said. “The Greatest Team on the Planet vs. The Crazy Gang from down Plough Lane.”
“Liverpool 0 Wimbledon 1.”
That got rid of the smugness.
Only for a season, though. The following year, it was all his teatimes rolled into one.
“Liverpool 3 Everton2.”
He oozed with crimson smugliness. His FA Cuppa was overflowing.
And it wasn’t filled with tea!