Top versus bottom. The super-rich and the paupers. Worlds apart, the Two Blues of this weekend’s FA Cup Final, Chelsea and Portsmouth, will surely produce a game that remains true to form and shows that the faded old competition isn’t really a great leveller after all.
Colin Randallgets Salut! Sunderland’s Wembley build-up underway but return on Thursday and Friday for the fans’ views …
The Two Blues, if you grew up in the County Durham of which Sunderland was part, were Bishop Auckland.
They were the kings of amateur football and there was a time, when they had the ultimate showman goalkeeper in Harry Sharratt and such stalwarts as Bob Hardisty and Derek Lewin, that it seemed they were hardly ever away from Wembley.
In 1955, their FA Amateur Cup Final victory over Hendon drew a 100,000 crowd. One of the medal winners, Seamus O’Connell, had also scored a hat-trick on his debut in a Chelsea side that won that season’s top fight championship (Sunderland coming fourth), if the historical references I have seen are correct.
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Those days and that Wembley have gone. On Saturday, the two blues from either end of the Premier table, one scoring the goals in the sort of numbers the other gets deducted in points, meet for an improbable decider of the 2010 FA Cup.
Salut! Sunderland has no special axe to grind. We were dumped out of the cup by Portsmouth, and managed only two draws against them in the league. Chelsea burst our early season bubble by beating us 3-1 at the Stadium of Light. Then they tonked us 7-2 at home.
But that last result puts us firmly at the top of a mini-league of our own – teams who conceded at least seven at Stamford Bridge. Sunderland won that honour courtesy of the only test: goal difference. Ours being -5, thanks to Darren Bent and Bolo Zenden, has us ahead of Aston Vila (-1), Stoke City (-7) and Wigan Athletic (-8).
Saturday? Stand by to hear from Chelsea and Pompey-supporting visitors to Salut! Sunderland later in the week.
The heart says Pompey 1 Chelsea 0, with a 31st minute winner from the Scottish midfielder Richard Hughes, a breathtaking double save by David James midway through the second half and a pitchlong dash at the end by a Trilby-wearing Avram Grant to embrace his keeper.
The head says Drogba (3) Anelka (2), Lampard, Kalou and A Cole.
* with thanks to the Flickr pages of Free-ers for the Chelsea image and david.nikonvscanon for the Pompey Royal. And British Pathe for the 1955 amateur cup final (click on the frame to see the highlights).
* NB: a recent deluge of spam means comments from people who have not been this way and posted before will have to await moderation. Sorry.