Sunday, May 22, 2016

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Muttering About Misers

Yesterday it was the turn of my son to don his preferred club colours and watch his favourite team. There was no Manchester United shirt in the house that would have fitted me so I was happy to go neutral on this one and wear the red, green and black of my beloved team from school days, Glentoran, kindly procured for me by a loyalist friend in Belfast.

I did not tell my son that a neighbour up the street would readily have provided one of his United shirts for the occasion, if only for the pleasure of seeing me squirm in it. Nor did I explain to him that the Oval, home of the Glens, was a Palace in my school days, where in my juvenile mind soccer royalty strutted its stuff, and in that subliminal way I would be giving my support to United’s opponents yesterday, Crystal Palace.

A few tins of beer for me and a plate of treats for him, we settled down to watch the game. The luck was with him despite Alan Pardew’s premature victory dance. United, unlike Liverpool, put up a fight and sent their satisfied fans on the road back to Manchester with a lot to be happy about. The result was a fair one. They had played the better football throughout. When they hit the post twice only for Palace to nip in and score with less than twelve minutes remaining, images of the perennial finalists of the late '70s, the great Arsenal side that fielded Liam Brady, flashed through my mind. In 1978, on a black and white prison TV I watched three efforts from the Gunners rebound off the woodwork before Ipswich took the cup with a solitary goal. 

Déjà vu it was not to be. Within minutes United were level and despite going a man down, finished with an extra time strike on a par with Jimmy Case’s effort in the 1977 final of the same competition. A goal superb enough to win the best of trophies, although for Case, it did not. The next three cup finals after the Ipswich victory, I missed. Television, even a black and white one - like books - was one of those banned substances for republican prisoners refusing to conform to British state pretences. Trial by tedium, some screws would puncture the ennui and tell us the results of any games we inquired about. Gratitude aside, it was a poor substitute. Something like you would find sitting on a Liverpool bench today but not back in the days of David Fairclough.

Strange how the relativity of expectations affect fortunes. Pardew the manager of the losing side has had his contract renewed merely for getting his team to the FA Cup final. Louis Van Gaal, the manager of the cup winners, is odds on to be sacked because victory in the domestic cup competitions is not considered enough to justify the post. Same sort of thing happened to Liverpool's Kenny Dalglish four years back: his masters of mediocrity took the Capital One Cup, were pipped by Chelsea in the final of the FA Cup, but their Premiership shambles proved his undoing. It’s a funny old game and for more reasons than one. As Bill Shankly quipped many years ago, it is not merely a matter of life and death, it is much more serious than that. Evidently, money often is. 

After the game was over and we posed in front of the TV for the obligatory TPQ photo, snapped by my daughter – the in-house photographer being in Belfast –  my son asked could he have a fiver. When I inquired as to the reason behind his appeal to my hard-to-pin-down generosity, he told me that because Liverpool had lost and Man U had won he felt entitled to a reward. I initially planned resorting to the standard refrain of “Away you and climb the tree in the garden and go to the very top. That is where the paper money is.” Instead, I opted to tease out why he wanted the cash. He rarely spends what little he gets anyway. He then accused me of failing to honour his bet: "We had a deal."

Which we didn't.

“But you just announced this deal a minute ago after we both knew the results. No bookie could survive with your idea of a bet, where they would take your wager only after the results were in.”

That is the sort of logic that has no purchase on a ten-year-old. Neither convinced nor consoled he walked off muttering something about misers. 

He can get his fiver today ... if he walks the dog. Another battle looms.


larry hughes said...

Isn't it great to be alive and enjoying the special little occassions and antics like you're doing? It is a pleasure to be reading of them. I thought the referee neutered the possibility of that 'luck' needed by all underdogs on the big occassion. A couple of decisions pegged Palace back. But as you say the better team, sadly, as expected, won. LVG has been treated in an even more disgusting fashion than the Manchester City manager this season. Not even being given the dignity of the welcome home parade in Manchester before being given the bullet it seems.There must be something extremely acitic in the Mancunian water supply. The 'special' ego Jose Murhino will no doubt require a further £250,000,000 to do it his way. That extraordinary expenditure by LGV in fairness was probably the millstone that sunk him and on balance deservedly so. I cannot think of a superstar he recruited to the United cause for all that money splashed out. Although on a personal level his restraint under incessant and undignified journalistic probing about his position at United was commendable. Much more dignified and repectful than his ultimate treatment at the hands of the club. It has surely been an undignified and distasteful performance by both Manchester clubs recently. Not a good PR exercise for either. Looking at LVG it has been hard not to feel his pain for some time and it was anything but a beautiful thing to observe. Hopefully he will have a huge pay-off as compensation and I have no doubt at all that he will be happier of the two parties to be released from the contractual relationship. For LVG 'it is over' for the United board, it is only beginning, again.
BTW Mackers that Glentoran shirt suits look so thin in it yer fading away til a mountain !!

Steve Ricardos said...

LVG's problem is that his 'brand' of football is about exciting as wet fish and chips. Hell of a difference between the Fergie years and the last couple at OT. Hope the Manc's aren't expecting something different with Mourinho, he is defensive minded first and foremost. He also prefers players 6 foot and over so Mata can kiss his arse goodbye (again!) as can the rest of the shortarses.

El Slaphead will be across the road poncing about at Maine Road, Klopp will be looking like a substitute teacher, Wenger still won't see anything (but nearly signed everyone), the Yids will get back in the comfort zone in mid table and Chelski will be in the headlines because Conte is a raving psychotic.

Another great season coming up after the wee 6 win the Euros! Yeeeeeeoooooow!!!

DaithiD said...

Christmas 2005 was the worst time I can remember as Utd fan. There was a handsome, funny manager who romped to league the season before with Chelsea, going top very early and never giving up, and then beginning this season exactly the same, with a budget from a young and cool benefactor that Utd could only dream of, plus a squad make up that clearly set them up for the next decade whilst our own class of ’92 were struggling with their aged bodies. We went out to Benfica that year from an easy group, and Ronaldo had yet to show the consistency of the following seasons, Alan smith and Djemba Djemba and David Bellion , Fergie said, would be the standard of buys as there was no value in the distorted market. If Fergie had went then, I wouldn’t of minded at the time. God im scanning the news constantly today in the hope LVG is gone so we can get that handsome and funny manager.

Niall said...

Enjoyed that one too.....

larry hughes said...

Dreading the Euros. The free state are a shambles and what misery awaits is too dreadful to even contemplate. But, England and the usual hype and expectation followed by the guaranteed humiliation and recriminations guatrantee the comedy factor. Any minor miracles for the free state - like an odd draw or scandalous win pulled out of the hat by O'Neill will hopefully only add to the merriment. Too much British in ye Steve Ricardos, do you have an English granny perchance?

Ramon The Wolf said...

Congratulations to Hibernian FC for winning the Scottish Cup. Their first victory since 1902. 2-1 down against "Rangers" with ten minutes left, the team of James Connolly finished winning 3-2. A result to warm the hearts of all neutrals and taxpayers. Great game too.

AM said...

From Beano

Anthony-----------The Glentoran top aside it sounds like you had a great time with the boy watching the FA Cup Final.

Maybe those of us of a certain age can hark back to the good old days of football which was-seemingly-less tarnished with corporatism-and most clubs had chairmen who had football at heart. Not egos. This year’s final was a fair enough game but in years to come will only stand out as Van Gaal’s parting shot. Ironic I suppose that he leads United to some level of success and then is shown the door-a door which had been opening for the latter half of the season past.

Failure to make the Champions league probably cost him dear but the reality is that although he is the figurehead the Man U management team must take a lot of responsibility. Giggs has been part of successive management teams since Ferguson’s departure-and each have been abject failures-by United standards.

But, I-like Anthony - am old enough to remember much better finals than this one-and many of them also viewed on the wrong side of a fence. I’ve been a Derby County supporter since 1969 so have never had the privilege of seeing them grace the famous Wembley turf in the showpiece game.

That, however never diminished my love of the Cup Final and I have many outstanding memories. As a young lad I recall watching each final before taking to the street directly afterwards to emulate those stars I had just watched. Ian St. John with the diving header in 1965-Mike Trebilcock’s low drive from a year later or Ian Hutchinson’s long throws from 1970.

During my years of incarceration I recollect that every final I watched-from 73-89 were of the black and white variety. For many of those years we had a hut party around the final day-minus liquid jollification. The standouts here would be Utd v Arsenal from 79 - Alan Sunderland; and of course Spurs and Man. City from 81 with Ricky Villa. In recent years I have missed Cup Finals and in all honesty only seen this years because I happened to be at home at the time. Gone are the days when I planned for a couple of days for the forthcoming game and hung on every balls that David Coleman made.

Peter said...

It's a shame the cup final has lost its edge. Years ago the players would rather win the cup than the league. Even the Irish cup was worth a watch. I loved going with the Bluemen to the Oval-a red hot atmosphere and end to end football. Now the stadiums are empty. All very sad really.

Steve Ricardos said...


That's the Oval is a dump!

Stauffenberg said...

Larry ,

I fancy the free states chances against the swedes and the belgians , I will be in bordeaux for the belgium game as i was fortunate enough to get a ticket from a pal in spain of all places , i think they will be well and truly knackered by the time they face italy but ya never know , as for the glens A.M i kicked about ardoyne and the newlodge many a time wearing my glentoran shirt much to the disgust of a few boyos who to this day still cant figure me out.

The euros is a welcome distraction from more pressing matters for many of us , come on the Irish...

larry hughes said...


It will be interesting to see how the wee 6 fare against Poland and the Panzer division
Looking forward to it all. Bring it on.

Stauffenberg said...


For sure , it could turn out to be a tournament with a few surprises , i remember Greek and Danish success in years gone by and with more teams this time there could be a few upsets.

larry hughes said...


Indeed and not to forget England sinking into national dismay and depression as they flunk their opening game and it's once again the END OF THE WORLD as we know it. After Wales beat them at the start of the rugby world cup I told English friends, there's only one British isles team in this competition now, the Celtic Fringe!! Cannot wait.