We should have been at Wembley to watch Norwich win the FA Cup
PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 May 2020 | UPDATED: 21:20 23 May 2020
Many moons ago I wrote a column that was pretty much full of silliness – I think I was trying to relieve some tension during a particularly sticky patch down the road at NR1.
On the day of publication I received an email from a woman telling me it was the biggest load of codswallop she had ever read and why oh why wasn’t I reporting on something serious in my column?
Well, if she is still with me, consider this a warning - on occasion the words that follow might descend into the ridiculous.
First up, the FA Cup - this Saturday was the scheduled date of the final and, of course, we’d have been awaiting a Norwich City victory. Let’s face it, you don’t get into the quarter-finals without having half a chance of winning it (bit of journalistic licence there).
Just in case you’d forgotten, this was the state of play with the world’s oldest knockout competition before we had to suspend football because of the coronavirus pandemic: Quarter-final line-up – Sheffield United v Arsenal, Newcastle United v Manchester City, Norwich City v Manchester United and Leicester City v Chelsea.
Those games were due to be played on the weekend of Saturday, March 21 - the first weekend after suspension, with the semis on April 18-19.
So, how did Norwich get to the final? Well, they beat Manchester United because Ole’s chaps were concentrating on European qualification and took their eye off the ball. Plus, it was at Carrow Road, where City were on a one-game winning streak.
They were joined in the last four by Sheffield United, Newcastle and Leicester (obvious, innit?) The draw would pit them against the Blades (also with a European mission) or Newcastle (hot and cold) and of course, City would win and face Leicester in the final. Because the headline writers wanted the Maddison angle. And because it is almost exactly five years since City were last at Wembley.
And City would win. And get relegated.
Because the cup is all about uncertainties on the big day – five in the FA Cup’s case. The league is all about quality over a series of games – 38.
City can produce it once in a while and, if the stars align, on sufficient occasions to reach Wembley. In the league they can’t.
And I cannot be the only one who would have happily accepted relegation and a trip to Wembley as a way to conclude this season.
Because football is all about the uncertainty and excitement: the FA Cup had that. It’s why we love it and miss it so much.
Now to South Korea. Lovely country; spent a week there once as a guest of its government, watching football matches and meeting big wigs trying to sell their bid for the 2002 World Cup.
The people were pretty cool and unflustered, very intelligent ... although their feathers have been ruffled this week because FC Seoul used dolls, of the adult variety, rather than mannequins, to fill empty seats in their stadium for a game.
It’s cost them a 100 million won (£66,000) fine.
The club had apologised, saying they had failed to check the consignment sent by the supplier, adding “it was not aware the dolls were adult products”. Really?
The K League added: “Some of the dolls had been dressed in the club’s kit while others were holding supportive placards. Fans watching the match on television took to social media to raise doubts about the inflatable spectators.”
Did you see Burnley had given Robbie Brady a contract extension? Brady’s a fine player, dogged by injury problems, but what hit home about the story is that five years ago Norwich City paid Hull £7m for him ... and getting on for three and a half years ago sold him for £13m. You’d get laughed out of court for mentioning City paying those sort of fees City nowadays... which sort of makes you wonder when they’ll ever come back.
A King’s Lynn Town player messaged me on Thursday asking “isn’t this huge news for us?” after reading my story that the EFL had proposed to retain promotion and relegation, which mean there should, after all, be a National League spot for Lynn to be promoted into. He was right, it’s great news. But I had to beg some caution: there are so many conflicting interests in the whole debate that I fear one will put a spanner in the works. And then there is the guarantee the EFL want that the National League can start the 2020-21 season... now that is what worries me.