Saturday, 14 May 2011

Barely 'up for the Cup'

This afternoon, the first post-season Saturday for lower league fans, presented three choices. Watch an uninspiring nothing-at-stake Hibernian versus Aberdeen clash down the street at Easter Road (and pay £22 for the privilege). Watch the Stoke City versus Manchester City FA Cup Final on the telly (a ringside seat, but with ITV's irritating ineptitude twittering away). Or, well, get a life and enjoy Edinburgh's beaming sunshine.

Being a fitba man my "life quotient" was bound to be the one that suffered (after a coffee with friends in the morning and quick step-out to the legendary Christian Aid booksale), so here I am in front of the TV - cheering Stoke on.

I had to spend a bit of time deciding which, of two English teams I don't spend much time thinking about, I would back. You just have to support somebody. I know more Man City supporters, but with respect to them and their Club's determination to end a 35-year silverware drought, I cannot but lend my voice to the Potteries' underdogs. They really want the historic Cup, whereas many Sky Blues have spent the week saying that it isn't nearly as important as qualifying for the European Champions League or winning the English Premier League on the back of their new-found billions. That's very hard to sympathise with as a neutral, let alone a backer of a 'diddy team'.

"Fair enough," I find myself saying. "Let someone who actually appreciates this Cup's irreplaceable value and history win it, then!"

Meanwhile, Manchester City manager Carlo Mancini has singularly failed to convince anyone that it really matters to him either, other than as a means of avoiding the elbow. Besides, Manchester United are liable to upstage City this afternoon by winning the EPL, whatever happens at Wembley. So why not let the boys from Stoke achieve a dream far more unimaginable in the (post)modern era?

So far it's been an interesting, gutsy but not over-thrilling game, 0-0 at half-time. Stoke are struggling to keep up, but defending well. Manchester City - who at least have the distinction of being the only EPL side truly from Manchester [discuss!] - have missed a couple of good chances, but will probably get more. We'll see.

Ah, for the days when the FA Cup really was the highlight of the football calendar in England, and produced a whole day of magic...

Footnote [17.04]: In spite of all that - well done to Manchester City, and all those who are genuinely thrilled.  Someone in Manchester has won something at last *cough*. 

1 comment:

Mike Blackstone said...

For the first time in years. I didn't even bother to watch it! Says it all really.