Monday, May 9, 2011


Dear Friends in the North of England,

Having failed miserably to solve my problems for me, by securing me a cup final ticket, please choose one of these appetizing solutions for my Cup Final viewing next Saturday, remembering that this is my first committed Cup Final since 1981 and that my enjoyment of said day has been almost terminally derailed by the FA's decision to have Blackburn v. you-know-who play an hour before the Cup Final kicks off.:

Bear in mind first of all, home is central Lisbon, a marvelous city of light and colour, but absolutely the wrong bloody place to be on Cup Final Saturday....

1)      A city supporting mate is playing in an annual football tournament in the Algarve. I joined him last year and we had a right royal time. 14 of us played football, watched the Cup Final in a semi-detached, semi-sober, semi-interested kind of way, whilst having a barbecue and a few tinnies. We then drank until 3 in the morning. So, I drive to the Algarve, am too nervous to play football, instead find a pub full of celebrating utd fans and try to watch the cup final. If we lose I have a night out in Albufeira with the streets full of plastic utd fans singing about 19 titles and more important Wembley finals of their own the following week. If we win, I make quite a lot of noise myself, then spoil my clothes in a fist fight with 23 celebrating utd supporters.
2)      I go the short distance to Cascais, a pleasant and accommodating little resort, and watch the build-up in The Beefeater, a cosy bar equipped with more tvs than Rumbelows, cheese and onion crisps and ice cool Heineken. This is interrupted at midday by a hoary flood of utd fans asking for said tvs to be switched over to Premier League coverage on Skysports. I go for a long walk wringing my hands and come back to watch the cup final in a pub full of celebrating utd fans. Aftermath, see 1)
3)     I stay at home. Not having Sky, I rely on Portuguese coverage, which, whilst good and even-handed, starts at 14:58 as the captains are eyeing each other up and stops about three seconds after the final whistle. I can curse and drink myself stupid in front of the kids but will miss the all-important Meet The Teams, Helicopter Chase and Cup Final Its a Knock-out (they do still have all these things on Cup Final day don't they?). I will also have to put up with the commentator saying things like "Ryan Show-cross", "Rory Dee-Lap" and "Micah Reesh Hard". When the camera pans to Mike Summerbee and Francis Lee in the stands, there will be unrecognising silence, but when it picks out guest of honour Mick Hucknall, there will be a brief eulogy on utd supporting celebrities. There will be another pregnant silence when the City support pay tribute to Big Mal and to Niel Young and, when the camera pans City fans doing the Poznan, there is a good chance the commentator will say something like (as he did during the semi-final) "The supporters of Stoke City really getting behind their team now". There is also a good chance, whilst i am wiping away a tear or two, preparing for a) City to lift the Cup or b) Stoke to lift the Cup (I am likely to be crying like a seal pup either way) that Sporttv will cut to a series of adverts about fast saloon cars and hair waxing for men, only to return some ten minutes later with "Futsal Live, anonymous short hairy blokes in yellow versus anonymous short hairy blokes in red".
4)      I travel 90 minutes north to a Liverpool supporting mate living in the country. By some odd quirk of fate, his satellite will only pick up ITV and BBC, meaning there is no Sky access, no Portuguese telly, no utd fans, just British terrestrial channels, birds tweeting and the smell of home cooking wafting through from his country kitchen. He is a school mate but I have only been reunited with him in the last 12 months. (ie he doesnt really know what I look or sound like after a cup final. He has a wife to protect and a nice new home with no signs of drippage, drainage, frottage or spoilage. I am not entirely sure I know what I will look or sound like either to be fair)
5)   I take one of my Brian Horton Elephant Pills and go to sleep until next July. 

View on entering pub for Cup Final

So this, my friends in the North, is what you have landed me with. You got me in this pickle, now you get me out of it.

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