I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Monday, January 28, 2013

I really don't mind losing such a classic FA Cup battle, and if it pisses off my two sons, then so be it!

I nearly had a falling out with my two sons when the final whistle blew on Oldham 3 – Liverpool 2.

I somewhat rashly made a comment that I really don’t mind losing an old school FA Cup encounter such as the one that had just played out at Boundary Park. And they didn’t like that at all. Probably a generation thing.

Let’s face it, the game had the lot. In fact the elements that fell into place to create such a classic mid winter cup upset are worth listing.

1. Premier league v two tiers lower – I can’t bring myself to call it Division One because Division One is what we used to win in the 70’s and 80’s

2. One stand missing allowing a gale force wind to howl in from the frozen Pennines.

3. An all Northern affair played out in the Northern Way.

4. Rumours of only one toilet in the Main Stand.

5. A ball that kept disappearing behind huge banks of snow and under seats causing a waiting Jordan Henderson to wear the look of a man who has left home and can’t remember if he has switched the gas off.

6. A throw back six and a half foot monster fresh from non league leading the lower league line like a bull on Crystal Meth.

7. A second half deluge that almost overwhelmed the guttering on the rickety old stands.

8. Corner flags bent double in the howling wind.

9. A manager on the verge of the sack who was familiar as a hundred percenter in his playing days.

10. ‘Ashworth’s Pies’ up there on the roof of the stand as a main sponsor

11. Freddie Flintoff taking his seat.

12. A hoofed clearance clearing the roof and exiting the ground and the sense of the watching audience waiting and wondering if Oldham actually had the cash to cover the cost of a spare one…

13. The lower league outfit setting the scene with an opener after two minutes.

14. A goalkeeping howler from the Premier League team.

15. The young, good on the ball, Uruguayan Copa America winner wearing the 1000 yard stare of a Vietnam grunt by the 60th minute.

16. Stevie G coming on as a sub wearing his game face and playing like a lad from Huyton.

17. Gordon Strachan because Gordon Strachan gets it.

When you can put together a list like this after a thunderous fourth round cup tie, the fact that your team has come out on the wrong end of it really shouldn’t matter all that much. Well, it doesn’t to me at least. My lads on the other hand are products of the Sky generation. They have been brainwashed by the ‘payroll is king' mantra and find it hard to deal with the fact that footballers who do Nike adverts can be undone by footballers who earn the same as normal human beings.

The whole Premier League hype is something that turns me into a grumpy old man on a weekly basis. It gets me in the mood to put the radio through the window in rage when some cretin purporting to be a Liverpool fan from Croyden calls into a 'phone in' show to say that being in the Champions League is more important than anything because it means more money. They go on to rubbish the Europa League and say that the best thing is for us to go out in the early rounds so that we can concentrate on the pursuit of the Holy Grail of 4th place. Any fans who actually turn out for matches and harbour hopes of a trip to Amsterdam for the final of the so called second rate competition not surprisingly see such comments for the bollocks they really are.

We are endlessly told that payroll is everything, and if you don’t have the wherewithal to pay half your squad £150 grand a week you are doomed to be mid table nobodies. I heard some bloody journalist on the radio last week sympathising with Alan Pardew up at Newcastle because he has no money. No money! He has 50,000 fans a fortnight shelling out £40 each and north of £40 million from the TV. No money? What a crock of shit. No money is actually Bradford City who have put together a whole team for £7000, a sum which will just about cover six hours of Wayne Rooney’s salary.

I remember doing a fag packet calculation of the market value of the two teams when Argentina took on Germany in the 2006 World Cup. The Argies, who had a whole host of Nike advertising superstars such as Messi, Tevez, De Maria, Higuain and Milito had a squad price tag of over half a billion. The Germans on the other hand lacked the kind of globally recognised players Nike needs to rubber stamp its sweatshop range of apparel and probably would been buyable as a job lot for under a hundred million. So according to the rules of the Sky hype, there could only be one result. Well it didn’t work out that way. The Germans showed that tactics, hard work, careful planning and sheer team spirit were more than enough to overcome any amount of Sky hype and duly stuffed the superstars 4-0.

We are endlessly told that the days when a manager can emulate the achievements of Brian Clough and Bill Shankly and Don Revie and Sir Bobby Robson and the Aberdonian version of Sir Alex are long gone. No way can it happen ever, ever again because the only thing that matters is money. And we are endlessly told that the hundred year plus history of the FA Cup doesn’t matter any more because there isn’t any money in it.

Well yesterday afternoon went quite away to showing what a load of utter crap all of this is. Which is better? To stump up your £45 a month for an endless diet of watching United dispatch mid table teams 4-0 in the anaemic, sanitised surroundings of the Theatre of Matchday Income or what everyone got to watch yesterday afternoon free of charge on terrestrial TV?

When they came to The Etihad and The Emirates, the Dortmund fans were appalled at how dead and sterile the atmosphere was. Well they would have had no such disappointment if they had turned out at Boundary Park yesterday afternoon. Yesterday was football in the raw, as it used to be.

And like I said, I really don’t mind getting beat in that kind of proper, bare knuckle fight and if my two lads are pissed off with me for not being Mr Johnny come lately from Milton Keynes about the whole thing, then so bloody be it!

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