Wembley Woe

Yesterday I relented and ended up watching the FA Cup final. I took my six year old son along to the pub, plied him with sweets and soft drinks, and myself with pints. I then listened to him cheer as Liverpool predictably went under for the umpteenth time this season. He likes Manchester United but on the day wanted to see Chelsea win. ‘I hate Liverpool’ is what he tells me. At times I do too. Anyway, an evening out with him was a joy not to be foregone just because of the anticipated lack of quality on screen.

The outcome was pretty much as expected. It would have seemed unfair for Chelsea to have lost on the day given the spirit the team has shown over the distance when their opponents fumbled and faltered at every opportunity.  At least the game was settled in open play and the satisfaction to be derived from victory by Chelsea supporters was not diminished by the grafting on of a penalty shootout, the result of which often fails to reflect the ebb and flow that preceded it on the field of play.

It was impossible to go in and watch the game and not root for Liverpool even though I had long since convinced myself they deserved to leave empty-handed. Maybe it is tribal loyalty, but while I could watch the game in muted mood I could not remain detached. Emotionally I wanted Liverpool to win even though intellectually I knew they would not have been worthy victors. There was only one moment that saw my expressionless demeanour collapse as I rushed towards one of the flat screen televisions in the crowded lounge where we had gathered. That was when Andy Carroll thought he had scored an equaliser with a powerful header that the Chelsea keeper managed to parry onto the crossbar.  That was it. At the end I told my son it was time to go, while other ‘Pool fans grimaced and vented their displeasure, suggesting that the referee should have gone to Specsavers.

That was not how I saw it. As often as I have watched the replay of the Carroll goal bound header, and from whatever angle, I have not been persuaded that the ball fully crossed the line. It was not as clear cut as the Geoff Hurst allowed goal in the 1966 World Cup Final against the Germans or the disallowed Frank Lampard strike against the same side in South Africa two years ago. If the cameras have their work cut out in trying to definitively establish the matter then match officials have no chance.

Up until the introduction of Andy Carroll as a second half substitute, Liverpool looked as if they might collapse under a Chelsea deluge. The floodgates seemed poised to spring open. The Merseyside firm  had created little and finished less. Whatever spark might have flickered, looked to have been extinguished the minute Drogba drilled the ball though the inviting legs of Martin Skrtel.  At that point the game looked well beyond their reach. Heads down, their eyes averted from the trophy, as distant from it as their hands had always looked certain to be.  Andy Carroll changed all that. For all his past failings his entry into the fray transformed the tempo of the game and with some lightning footwork scored a great goal and almost saved the day for Liverpool with that disputed header.

Last year’s snow now; it matters no more.  I have been watching Liverpool lose FA Cup finals since 1971 when Arsenal took the trophy back to Highbury in their year of the double. So there is nothing new under the sun in that respect.  The real difference is that the cup final teams of 71, 74, 77 and beyond were sides that could be admired for their tenacity. Yesterday’s team, while it put in a performance that did not disgrace itself and which showed more cup final bottle than the supposedly great side of 87, lacks the mettle of old. There is an iron deficiency running through the spine of this side which under the current coach seems a long way off from being corrected.

So there we go. On the 31st anniversary of the death of the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, the ‘laughter of our children’ – words immortalised by Bobby - in particular that of my son, as we stood together watching soccer, made our journey a valuable one. Tonight we followed up yesterday’s outing on the local green. He pronounced himself Wayne Rooney. I had to make do with being Steven Gerrard.  He comprehensively outplayed me. Losing is not everything.


  1. Andy Carroll didn't score that header yesterday and Geoff Hurst did not score the second of his hat-trick in 1966 either.


  2. Alfie,

    I would have sworn that I had seen footage that clearly showed the Hurst shot well over the line. Apparently not. This from the BBC:

    'But photographic technology has so far been unable to offer decisive evidence about whether or not the ball crossed the goal-line and Hurst remains the only player to score a hat-trick in the World Cup finals.'

    Looking at the footage online I would agree with you that Hurst's shot cannot be said definitively to have crossed the line. Much like Andy Carroll's

  3. heartwarming piece mackers
    at least your son had a good day out. BRILLIANT.

  4. At least Anthony your wee man has a bit of footie savy,
    Considering we have had a footballer,a marathon runner, and now an Olympic swimmer suffer from heart attacks..being a fat f##ker is starting to look like a healthy option..my mate set me up on a blind date over the weekend, he said "she,s a lovely girl but there is something you should know...she is expecting a baby" I felt a right f##kin idiot waiting in the pub wearing nothing but a nappy..

  5. RANGERS F.C. 2013 LINE UP

  6. You can imagine the fun that went down in our house watching the match ... thank god we didn't have to get up @ 7am to watch it ... a healthy noon start over here.
    I agree with you that Cech saved that header but Chelsea nearly gave it up completely ..... it was nerve wrecking for me to watch the second half with my mind flowing forward in time to the 19th when the lads will kick off in Munich .... with defense like that we've no hope .... so here's hoping for cahill and luiz to be back on their toes.
    And btw sorry the wee man is leaning toward the dark side .... he'll maybe see the light someday :P

  7. NO NO not again,why o why do ye keep moaning, censorship please,censorship now beaten again Blogs are full of Pool moaners, ye were beaten that's it lads. For what its worth In my opinion the Big second row forward scored a great goal that was disallowed, but we can only go on what the scoreline says pity but such is life

  8. Larry,

    Committed an unpardonable crime yesterday. Took him down and got him a Man U rig and last night he made me play football with him on the green and him decked out in it. I wanted to throw a duvet over him!

    Marty, you would have loved it!


    Thought of you as Chelsea took the cup. Knew you would be watching it no matter what the time. Chelsea sail close to the wind but it has paid off for them thus far. The wee man is very much on the dark side. He could be worse than just a Man U fan - a Catholic and a Shinner!

  9. What a sight the pair of you must have made a cara,the wee man in seventh heaven,and you ! well is there a hell below L/Pool,? but I have to be truthful here two sons are Pool supporters and now my grandson has declared he is going over to the dark side,what is it about Irish sons and rebellion.his gran bought him a Chelsea top in Dunnes the other week,they were going cheap,but the wee man refuses to wear it,moral of the story ..there still hope for him...

  10. That most popular of people the Ruaninator is now long odds for Babs vacant post,mustnt have had the balls,the hot favourite is the Boswell babe Martina I,m a model Anderson,what is it about the Derry wans and top posts at the moment is it something to do with the water,or because Derry was the first to surrender,,

  11. Heres one for graffiti minded people
    Qsf change the tail in upper case Q to a long tounge,fits perfectly,Quisling sinn fein, queens sweet fenians,quagmire smells foul,thats for those in qsf who step out of the Q.

  12. its great he chose 'his-own' team. thats what i like. impressed already.

  13. Boyne Rover

    Fergy on verge of signing Arthur Scargill. Best striker in England.

    Larry you met him and know that he doesn't listen to me!


    someone commented to me that Marty is moving his own people in as Gerry and him try to carve up the empire between them and not always agreeably. Cat was Ger's girl and Marti is Mart's. Bairbre is ill otherwise the conspiracy theories would multiply that Mart got rid of her coz she is Ger's girl also.

    Don't know if there is any truth to it but if there is it has come to sound like gangsters and their molls

  14. Has it ever really been any different a cara when you take a real hard look at the "movement" its nothing more than a few families and their cliques

  15. Marty,

    We play on one of the greens but I haven’t the puff or pace for him. The balance of power is shifting!