Soapbox: magic – not


Pete Sixsmith is down in the dumps. Instead of being comfortably placed in the league and awaiting an easy passage into the quarter finals (home to Coventry), we look shaky going into the next two Premier games, unlikely to overcome Blackburn in the cup and facing the loss of a defender Pete describes as “an excellent player with a good touch and a lovely feel for the ball”. But hey, we’ll keep Kenwyne, beat Fulham and the Mags, buy well before the window closes and steam forward towards the FA Cup semis. Won’t we?

Selwyn Frogget, a comedy character of the 1970s played by Bill Maynard, had a catchphrase: “Magic our Maurice.” And he stuck his two thumbs up to signify that something was good.

ITV and Setanta have used the phrase Magic to describe the FA Cup as many times as Selwyn did – and like that not much lamented sitcom, they are failing to pull in the viewers.

Their selection of games for Fourth Round Day was uninspiring. They ignored the two non league teams still involved and went for tried and tested favourites like Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool.

What they got was very little drama or excitement. A typical Championship game at Derby, a routine win for Premier League West Ham at Hartlepool, another fine example of Spurs’ ability to throw away winning positions at Old Trafford, boredom at Cardiff and another Merseyside derby which proves that if you want to make bricks out of straw, David Moyes is your man – and that Benitez is the most over rated manager in the game.

Wisely, they decided not to bother with the game at the Stadium of Light and I wish that I had gone along with them. This was a real first class, A1, top drawer stinker that fully merited the short shrift – 30 seconds – it got on the highlights programme on Saturday night.

It seems that both Sbragia and Allardyce were keen to lose this one, because neither manager seemed particularly interested in winning it. Sbragia’s team selection must have removed any doubts about Michael Chopra’s future as a Premier League player – he doesn’t have one. Healy was not a great deal better so we never looked like threatening the two biggest centre halves in the division. Watching Chopra trying to outjump Samba was akin to seeing if Jonathon Ross could get through a weekend without upsetting someone – an impossibility.

The plus signs were few”: McCartney looked sharp, Ferdinand was authoritative and Chimbonda was excellent. However, it looks like he is on his way back to Spurs. I notice that he has had “personal issues” which is a shame as I feel that he is an excellent player with a good touch and a lovely feel for the ball.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Phil Bardsley, who is one of the worst passers of a ball I have seen in a red and white shirt. Decent tackler, but his distribution is the equal of an octopus with a wobble on.

The Keane era is beginning to unravel. We are in desperate needs of points, but I get the feeling that confidence is not high – it certainly isn’t in the area that I sit in. Tuesday is a must win against a well drilled and very well managed Fulham side. They win away about as often as I watch Celebrity Big Brother but they must have had a boost after a good cup win that should have been on live TV.

Which brings us back to the magic of the FA Cup and Selwyn Frogget. Wouldn’t it be nice to grin, stick up our thumbs and say “Magic, our Ricky” after Sunday?

1 thought on “Soapbox: magic – not”

  1. It’s such a shame….we have played charisma-less sides (Blackburn, Bolton and Wigan) in our last three FA Cup ties. You can just see the grim, back-to-backs of the Lancashire mills and the grime from the chimneys. Perfectly reflected in the football.
    Of course, we didn’t help. The lack of risk-taking is a perfect recipe for dullness.
    In addition, as I said in a letter to the Echo in 2002, there are “no more heroes” in this side.
    Leaving you on a brighter nostalgic note. the FA Cup still has a place in all our hearts. Here is the brief story of mine…..
    May 5th 1973. Dawned soggy in London. I was an spotty 18 year old student at Imperial College in South Kensington.
    Called home to Sunderland. Mam said, “Sorry son, no ticket, your Dad’s been trying all night but no luck.”
    A mate charged up the stairs. “They’re selling them at the FA in Lancaster Gate.”
    I ran like the wind across Hyde Park. Soaked. The FA doorman looked at me and with slow, sadistic pleasure said “No tickets here, lad.”
    1 o’clock. Couldn’t stand it. After all, I’d seen the games against Reading in the fourth round. Not my fault I was away from home. Emptied my beer kitty and took the 5 quid Mam had sent….10 pounds in all.
    Over to Wembley. Plenty of touts, plenty of tickets. 15 quid. No chance.
    2.45pm. Small boy of 10 comes over…..and shows me a 5 pound seat ticket. Wants 15. No chance.
    2.50pm. He’s back. “Take it for 10 ?”. I TAKE IT.
    What is there to say ?
    I was parallel to the goalline where Porter scored and Monty saved.Couldn’t watch the last five. Stood on those wonderful balconies, looking out down Wembley Way. A steward came out, “They’ve done it lad.”
    Screaming the Wearside anthems. Met bits of family coming out, cried with them.
    7.45am Sunday. Woke up, in the doorway of Earls Court exhibition centre. Good night all in all. Went up to Kings Cross to see the Lads off. Felt homesick.
    Thats the real FA Cup for you.
    Forget the Baby Bentley hype.

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