Saturday, May 28, 2011

The old and the new.

It has never been my desire or intention to harp on about the old day and old fashioned ways. There is an awful lot about 'now' that is really good and useful, I'm glad I live in the present.
But here comes the but.

When I were a lad, Cup final day was a holy day. The nation paused, you watched telly from lunchtime until 5.30. I don't know what the outside world looked like on those saturdays in May, I never left the house. It was always on a sunny Saturday in May and the build up was giddily exciting , even if the game was anything but. Cup Final day marked the start of summer. And as for the name? It was the Cup, You didn't need to call it anything else.

And during those days there was also the European Cup. Between 1977 and 1984 English clubs won seven out of the eight finals. It was expected that an English team (normally Liverpool) would be in the final and would be pictured the next day emerging from a plane with the trophy. You would stay up late on a Wednesday night and watch the slightly scratchy pictures from Rome or Paris, the commentary would have that wonderful longwave radio quality. Those were the days long before digital, HD quality.

So what's changed? In short, plenty.

Let's start with the FA Cup. It's had a sponsor for years and has perhaps graduallylost some of it's aura. A couple of years ago the cup 'needed a cuddle' and got it with a drab Portsmouth V Cardiff final. This year (ironically because of the ECL final at Wembley tonight) the final was bedded in amongst Premiership fixtures two weeks ago. I caught about ten minutes of the match. The holiest day of the year was completely lost amongst relegation struggles. Tonight, I settle in front of the telly with some grub and a beer in order to support Barcelona against Manchester United in The Champions League final.

Supporting Barca? Surely unpatriotic. Cobblers. I've a few teams I dislike for a number of strange irrational reasons. I dislike United for one simple reason.

Their fans.

Almost every full grown United fan I have ever met has been a pillock. I have never met a United fan over the age of 11 who has not got an excuse for supporting them . An excuse? You should be proud to follow your team. You should not need an excuse!
"United were crap in the 80's"
"My dad's cousin was from Manchester" (But you have lived your entire life in Essex?)

And in a nod towards tonight's coverage of the big game, I do not need Christopher Ecclestone to tell me where I have gone wrong! You were a good Dr Who but you know 'shit all' about football.
I accept that they are the benchmark and that Sir Alex Ferguson is an incredible manager, and I don't buy into the idea that Barcelona represent all that is beautiful and good in a sour old world, But I still reserve the right to cheer on whoever United are playing

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

City 'til I die!

Ah, Spring in England. Is there anywhere finer? Why stop there? Why not narrow it down to a fine city in the East, perhaps Norwich? And for a month let us choose May.
The fifth month, as we all know is a time of decisions. Who stays up? Who goes down? Who lifts silver to the sky gods and who completes two promotions in as many years? These happy cyclists are on their way to worship at the alter of Mr Lambert of Carrow Road, off they go, bells ringing and smiles a wide as the road they travel!
These fellows were lost. Lost and foreign but delightful in their bemused enjoyment of thousands of Norfolk folk in their revelry.
The message was clear, come footballing success, come large plastic banners with the club's motto.
I spent a large part of the festivities in an ancient churchyard, the view was awful but the noise and atmosphere was real enough. I was also amused by rowdy teenagers letting loose in the sacred space. Then again, if Jesus were around in Norwich he would be enjoying this (or kicking us all out of 'the temple' for being sacriligeous, your call).
Flags and crowds abound.
The other side of St Peter Mancroft's yard.
Soon I was joined by a friend working in the city. Following the disappearance of aforementioned 'yoofs' we moved a few feet away from my initial perch and found our view much enhanced. City Hall, a 1930s masterpiece. OK, a massive block admired by Hitler (he ordered the Luftwaffe to avoid bombing it during WWII so that he could take the salute from it's balcony following a German victory).
The flag flies over City Hall.
More flags, more people taking pictures.
The Lord Mayor was greeted with the traditional football call to recognition "WHOAREYAH????" My companion was concerned about such disrespect "I voted in the referendum" he pointed out.
The banter, shouting and jollity continued for an hour or so.
Then, following mildy slurred words and an expletive from Delia we all trooped over the Forum to wait for the bus.
Theatre Street. Waiting. Architecture geek moment. Look at the 14th century church on the right. Everything else is postwar. This area of Norwich was flattened in 1942.
Looking the other way, still waiting. The kids in the bottom right of this picture (with the flag) were mucking about and must have stood on my foot about three times. I didn't mind.
Then, slowly, down the street, a bus full of drunk footballers!
The real deal, this is why we are here! A bunch of great looking, young, tremendously rich blokes with incredibly hot wives and girlfriends who play football for a living get to ride a Double decker bus through the city!
And then they pass.
And so it's off to the pub.

I must have taken about 100 pictures last night. I sat on the train home, folk around me singing the songs and messing about. Me? I was a bit wobbly after a few pints and some bangers and mash with some friends. I sat there deleting the very many blurred shots and pictures of the back of strangers heads. I hope they tell something of a fun night to celebrate a brilliant season.