The one thing that sets football apart from other sports is rivalry, or as some fans of other sports would call it, tribalism. In Rugby Union, both sets of fans mingle before and after the game and have some light-hearted semi-banter. I live near Worcester and I happen to know that Worcester Warriors aren’t that fond of Gloucester Fans; in fact they think that their near neighbours are a bit simple and a bit thuggish. Nonetheless when the two teams play each other there is still a generally good feeling around the ground, a few pints drunk and a jolly good game of rugger enjoyed.
In Rugby league fans from all clubs converge on the Challenge Cup Final regardless of who is playing. Fans from all clubs sit in harmony and enjoy the spectacle because to them it is the finale of their season and they enjoy the day out. In cricket I don’t think there is any kind of rivalry, mainly because no-one ever goes to watch anything apart from 20-20 and then they don’t really understand the game, but the bar is open and the sun is (occasionally) shining.
Then we come to football. I am absolutely not condoning any kind of violence whatsoever, but the best thing about football is rivalry. When Liverpool were dangling precariously near the foot of the table under Agent Woy I hoped that they wouldn’t end up being relegated because what would be the point if you couldn’t spend at least two weeks of the season building up to play the dirty hub cap stealing, bin dipping, giro collecting, shell suited job clubbers. We may have been beaten by the church roof lead stealers a couple of weeks ago, but that was their biggest game of the season and they can now ease off toward the end of the campaign safe in the knowledge that they have achieved their season’s ambitions. Well done Pool. Luckily though we had the chance to avenge that defeat just a week later in the FA Youth Cup, so all was not lost.
I am very saddened and ashamed to say that I had to record the game from LFCTV because it is free, not a lot of point in making it subscription TV though unless they were prepared to accept hubcaps and ring pulls from Stella Cans as payment. I am also ashamed to say I haven’t watched the whole game yet; I have to limit myself to 10 minute spells before my ears start to bleed and I need total silence for 9 hours to allow them to heal. However as you will all know the United youth staged a fantastic comeback to beat the mini dippers with Morrison and Tunnicliffe in starring roles. The beast Pogba was ridiculously dismissed for collecting a second yellow card for removing a shopping trolley from the pitch. Once the game was over the vitriol started to flow from the toxic wasteland of Merseyshite, it mainly centred on those nasty bigger boys from up the road being all mean and physical and it wasn’t fair. They must mean those gigantic units Larnell Cole or Jesse Lingard who were wading in with elbows flying and studs exposed in an apocalyptic fashion. The mini dippers reminded me of an incident from my distant youth. I was at a fight when a disco broke out, my tallest friend, ironically nicknamed Rocky, was right behind me as I waded in to rescue one of my other mates who was getting a bit of a beating. As the dust settled and fisticuffs turned to handshakes we looked around for Rocky who was nowhere to be seen. A good ten minutes and two pints had passed before he reappeared, from under the bar, muttering the now immortal phrase – “they were bigger boys”.
The most staggering event was the appearance of a new Twitter legend, @realjohnaldo, or as you and I might know him best, the man who made history by being the first player to miss a penalty in an FA Cup Final. As we all know, since John retired from football he had a go at being a manager for a while but resigned when he realised that he was in fact far too stupid to have a job and ever since has carved a new profession out for himself; he is employed by Sky TV to be a professional lurker. As part of this deal he has to spend 24 hours a day skulking in the shadows of the council house “just in case” anything remotely Liverpool-related happens, he can then spring into action and impart some of that famous scouse wit and knowledge interspersed with a lot of words that no-one outside the toxic exclusion zone can understand. Poor old John has recently been introduced to Twitter and I think he is finding it difficult judging by some of his tweets. My favourite sequence was when he tweeted “not a7 much as i enjoyed twating u last wk shuda been 5.1” Which I have run through Google translator and comes out as “I was very pleased with our win last week”. But then the generously beaked scouser followed that up with “another condoning it but needs English lessons” which was a response to some of the chants being sung during the game. If I thought he would understand irony that would have been Twitter magic; a man who can barely type let alone construct a meaningful sentence was kindly informing someone else they needed English lessons. These tweets came just prior to “the poor man’s Ian Rush” losing his Twitter rag, he then started issuing legal threats to everyone. It was interesting to see that he has a lawyer in Dublin and Cork and quite possibly England too, maybe a man who is often on the wrong end of “unjust” actions. Scrolling through his tweets seeing him threaten legal action on everyone (although he said please when asking for home addresses) made me think of a wild animal that is being backed into a corner, aiming bites at everyone around it, then I remembered that John is to all intents and purposes a wild animal and has adapted to this role since the inception of his lurking contract with Sky Sports.
The game was preceded by the senior squad compounding Arsenal’s misery by dumping them out of their third cup competition in two weeks. The lizard man had been edging nearer and nearer to a meltdown before this game, watching his lovely boys led by the brittle Dobbin Van Horsie manage to throw away the Carling Cup and then wave the white flag at the Camp Nou. During that Champions League match Arsenal became the first team to ever complete a match without having a single shot on target. They actually turned up to try and defend a one goal lead against the most attack-minded team on the planet – with the exception of Manchester City. Shamefully, Lizard man abandoned all of his footballing ethics and set his team up to try and keep a clean sheet… against Lionel Messi. Rather than try and expose the high line of defence that Barca play, Wenger chose to play Dobbin as the focal point of his attack which is always going to be a risk as he could rupture a hair follicle at any time. The plan failed miserably, although had Bendtner not been blessed with the touch of a water buffalo they still might have snatched the tie in added time.
So to the FA Cup, and Sir Alex selected a team with 7 “defenders” in the starting line. Many thought the lord of Manchester had been trialling Colon Toure’s “slimming Pills” with this team seeming a bit odd, but again he proved he had the beating of Arsenal. The twins playing wide in midfield and Rooney operating as the creative force was all too much for Arsenal. Wenger, who was wearing a sleeping bag, offered these thoughts after the game: “now we will focus on the league” which is insightful really as it’s all those useless fuckers have got left. Not much point focusing on the Champions League or FA Cup now Arsene.