Sunday, May 18, 2008

FA Cup Final, 2008

Well that was some journey. Not from Felin to Wembley, I mean the whole FA Cup thing. But in the end we lost, and that felt right. I was disappointed of course, but it suits me to lose. I'm used to it. Watching Cardiff City lose is like wearing a comfy pair of slippers instead of those Jimmy Choo stilletoes that we've been strutting around in for the past couple of months.

There's no doubt that having semi finals in Wembley is a bad thing. I felt like Man United fans must feel when they go to big games. There was a sense of familiarity about it all, and the pure adrenaline excitement of our first visit was replaced by a relaxed pride and the enthusiasm was generated by the sense of occasion rather than our environment. I've always been critical of big clubs treating any game at Wembley with disdain, but how many City fans would have gone back for the Charity Shield? Would we have sold out our allocation? I doubt it.

I know I always rattle on about the corporate package delivered to us at games now, but it has to stop. That bloody booming tannoy belting out pap is enjoyed by precisely no-one, except maybe the sort of people that bought the Do the Ayatollah CD.

I cried during Abide with Me of course, but why on earth do they allow Leslie Garrett to treat it like a Covent Garden performance? I've said it before and I'll say it again , in capital letters: "LET THE PEOPLE SING!!

I was disappointed but not surprised to hear our anthem booed and whistled. You could hear it even though they had turned Katherine Jenkins up so high that the background hum on her microphone sounded like an aeroplane taking off. I was surprised to hear our fans boo their anthem in response. I thought that the message had been received. How much cooler would it have been to stay silent? How stupid would Pompey have looked?

I thought the match was a disappointment. Jimmy Floyd showed that being a good player in 1996 counts for nothing now, whatever attention the English media pay you. Respect must go to Dave Jones for leaving Fowler out of the squad and ignoring the fairytale scenario being written by the press. Names alone don't win matches.

It literally looked like men against boys at times. The Portsmouth team seemed bigger, faster, more athletic. This is what Premiership money can get you. It's like having first pick in the playground. The Portsmouth team read like a list of United Nations diplomats. Do they bother producing their own footballers anymore? What do their Academy players think on looking at the first team and realising they haven't got a hope of making it?

I think Redknapp was cute. Any potential flowing Cardiff passing move was snubbed at source, legally or illegally. Portsmouth made 23 fouls to our 9. There was no way we could get into our rhythm with all the pushes, nudges, kicks and tugs. The resulting set piece was dealt with easily due to a combination of organised defence, with superior physique, and poor delivery from the free kick taker.

I didn't stay to see the Cup being presented to Portsmouth even though I had planned to. I knew what it would look like. And more to the point, what it would sound like. It would be the same as any other victory celebration these days: I presume they played Queen and Status Quo did they? Were there fireworks? Yawn... I bet they didn't even leave a minute of tannoy silence to let the Pompey chimes ring out.

There was more frustration as we left the stadium. I could practically see our car, but the police were forcing us to walk further and further away. Our 1.5 mile walk would soon become doubled. My complaints fell on deaf ears and some arrogance. "This is called crowd control" he grinned at me. Just like everything else at the FA Cup Final, it was Wembley plc who would decide what was best for me.

But in summary, I was proud. And what now? Can we move on from this? Can we become a big club? It will mean forgetting our past. No more can we be the scowling Stone Island club. We have to embrace new supporters. Some of them will wave flags, blow horns and wear scarves. Some of them, God forbid, might wear a Welsh rugby shirt. But if we really want more games at Wembley, we have to show a friendlier face to new fans, and also to potential sponsors. This could be the start of something big, or it could be a fond memory to look back on when we are old men.

1 comment:

baruch said...

I agree with most of this. Why didn't Jones put on Ramsey earlier. Jimmy Floyd was a liability being so imobile. Having said that I watched it on tv when I got home and we had several chances to score and could have easily won the game. As a fan who has returned to City and watching live football in the last 6 years - nothing could have captured my enthusiasm and committment more than this cup run.(Short of promotion of course). Long may it be remembered and soon repeated.