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Posts Tagged ‘FA Cup’

Mario Balotelli

Balotelli - Too hard to be bothered.

It’s spring time in the world of the living, a time for rebirth, April showers and FA Cup semi-finals. Unfortunately for the rotting residents of In Off the Ghost, sunshine is a thing of the past. As for rebirth, well, we can but dream. But never mind, at least we get to dust ourselves off and watch the inevitable march of one of the Premier League’s ‘Big Four’ to yet another piece of silverware for their bulging trophy cabinets. Well, at least that was what we thought. However, this year has been a little different.

While basking in an unseasonable weekend of glorious April sunshine at Wembley Stadium, Manchester City swept aside bitter rivals Manchester United with a 1-0 victory thanks to an opportunistic Yaya Touré strike, and Stoke City crushed Bolton Wanderers 5-0 with a display of unexpected brilliance to book their places in the final. So instead of fighting against the landslide of guff about the romance of the FA Cup, we decided to join in with the torrent of clichés and take our own stab at lazy journalism. But here at In Off the Ghost we have the advantage of being able to call upon a real expert in the field of romance. A cold welcome to terribly famous English romance novelist Jane Austen!

Jane Austen

Austen - Who says romance is dead? Oh...

“What a weekend readers! The Manchester City fans were ecstatic with joy after their 1-0 victory,” said Austen, twirling her paranormal parasol in a thoroughly lady-like fashion, “it must have been the happiest day of their lives. For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours and laugh at them in our turn? For City fans life has seemed but a quick succession of busy nothings, but now the romance of the FA Cup has sprinkled magic onto their season.

“I have always said that a large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of, and with their wonderfully expensive squad of talented fellows Man City have reached their first FA Cup final since 1981. And they have such strapping, handsome gentlemen on their side, gentleman one would love to dance with. My idea of good company is the company of Vincent Kompany.

“But the Manchester derby was not the only event of the weekend. Sunday brought another captivating occasion with Stoke City crushing hapless Bolton Wanderers 5-0. Exquisite joy for the Potters as they finally reached an FA Cup final, the last of the founding League members to do so, but hideous misery for the Trotters as their dreams lie in tatters. Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. Stoke prepared the better for this game, and how often is happiness destroyed by preparation. They played in the unfashionable style recently discarded by Bolton and derided by their peers. But how quick came the reasons for approving of the long ball! 3-0 in the first 30 minutes!

“This weekend one half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other. The beauty of the FA Cup leaves Man City and Stoke fans in raptures as United and Bolton fans are truly distraught. Now we can look forward to the social event of the season; the FA Cup final on Saturday 14th May! Stoke and Tony Pulis will have nothing to lose, and the pressure will be on the terribly dashing yet intriguingly broody Roberto Mancini. I’m an admirer of Mr. Mancini, but even if Man City win the FA Cup, will it be enough for Sheikh Mansour? As many Chelsea managers have found to their detriment, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of the Champions League.”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott makes a splash.

The FA Cup third round, who could fail to get excited at the magic and romance? Who could wait for the prospect of Millwall v Birmingham City, Norwich v Leyton Orient and Torquay v Carlisle? Erm…well, us actually. It’s a shame, but when you’ve been dead for an indeterminable amount of time and you must while away years that stretch on endlessly, you tend to lose faith in romance, magic and all that guff. However, this season there was more to the FA Cup third round than the usual clichés. The oldest competition in the beautiful game showed a side of its weathered visage uglier than a constipated Ian Dowie.

So, with fighting, taunting and cheating evident in the biggest games of this year’s third round, in particular the contentious penalties in the Man Utd v Liverpool and Arsenal v Leeds clashes, we spoke to an expert in the field of diving, legendary French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher Jacques Cousteau!

Jacques Costeau

Cousteau: "You call that a dive? Pah!"

“There is an art to diving,” began Cousteau, “lots of people attack the pitch when they dive, but Berbatov made love to it. Walcott was one with the turf. To be truly convincing you must embrace the deep green mistress and conquer her!”

“Berbatov is not just a diver, he is an impresario of divers. With barely a touch he fell, plumbing the depths of his talent to hoodwink Howard Webb. The Old Trafford crowd held their breath as the Bulgarian crashed upon the rocks of Agger’s knees, destroying Liverpool’s dreams of FA Cup victory” said Cousteau, repositioning his now translucent red hat firmly on his head.

“And Walcott, très bien! Arsenal were under absolute pressure when he flopped onto his back to salvage a point from the wreckage of Arsenal’s FA Cup third round tie with Leeds United. With that plummet Theo gave up his dignity so that his captain could save the day. Magnifique! And the half hearted apology after the game? Even I wouldn’t dare to go that low.”

“The only person who seemed to go to ground for a genuine reason was Stevenage defender Scott Laird, who sank like the Titanic after hitting this iceberg of a fist. And it was from one of his own fans too. Zut alors!”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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'Now which is the quickest way to the January transfer window?'

Despite almost being bored to another death by the FA Cup third round last Saturday, I settled myself in to watch Manchester United v Leeds United on the afterlife sports channel ‘Styx Sports’. After witnessing Leeds crush the ‘Red Devils’ by playing with more pace and energy than a whippet race, I felt the need for some match analysis from the football’s very own Valhalla, In Off The Ghost.

As we strive to bring you the best spiritual perspective on the football news of the day, we managed to chat with legendary former King of England, Richard III. Richard was delighted with the result as he was himself a veteran of several fierce battles between Yorkshire and Lancashire, and he was arguably even less successful in these encounters than Leeds United used to be at Old Trafford.

Richard III - Even less popular than Leeds United

‘Was ever a match in this humour won in such a manner? Woe to the club that is defended still by Gary Neville. And Jermaine Beckford! So wise so young, they say, never stay in League 1 long. Thou cam’st on Earth to make it their hell, and my heaven! And yet Sir Alex is always determined to prove a villian. Talkest thou to me of ‘ifs’ and ‘not enough injury time’? I had no time added on at Bosworth Field! Harp not on that string Ferguson. I will say but one more thing, as an honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.

Every week! Every week! My Kingdom to play thee every week!’

So as Richard’s final battle saw the decline in the House of York, Sunday’s match put an end to Sir Alex’s FA Cup hopes. With a result like this, some fans are starting to believe that it may also be the beginning of the end for United’s stranglehold over English football.

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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William Wordsworth

'Methinks that there abides in thee, a love for the FA Cup round three!'

For some, the magic of the FA Cup has breathed its last. The once great competition is but a bloated, inconvenient corpse exuding a fetid stench of deathly decay amid more fragrant and important competitions.

But for others, the drama and romance of the world’s oldest cup competition lives on. That is why In Off The Ghost has decided to feature a round-up of the recent FA Cup third round ties from someone who can really appreciate romance, former poet laureate William Wordsworth.

‘Oh reader! The FA Cup returns! No competition in any walk of life that pits men against men in the game of football conjures the qualities in humanity that are so beautiful. The passion of the players, the joy of victory and the despair in defeat. From the Bescott Stadium to Bramall Lane, from Anfield to Sixfields. The FA Cup third round, above all other things, makes me wish with all my heart that I was alive again, to smell the atmosphere, to be a part of the unified voice of the common man in the sell out crowd. To hear them cheering their team on to impossible victory filled by hope’s perpetual breath. To witness that most wonderous of football phenomena: the FA Cup giant killing.

This year the third round has once again proven wrong those who doubt that the FA Cup is still the world’s premier football competition. There was a rollercoaster of wonder and excitement in the top tie of the round as the nation witnessed Man Utd 0-1 Leeds. Jermaine Beckford danced past the Man Utd defence with divine grace and rolled the ball past Tomasz Kuszczak to give the League 1 side a majestic scalp of the most sublime proportions. Dull would he be of soul who could pass by a sight so touching in its majesty!

Another tremendous encounter that my heart leapt up to behold was Reading 1-1 Liverpool. Simon Church’s goal had Rafa Benitez praying his side could redeem themselves as Grzegorz Rasiak wandered lonely as a cloud at the back post to provide the assist. However, salvation came in the form of Steven Gerrard, as he gracefully sent a shot skimming across the lush green turf of the Madejski Stadium to crush the tender hope blooming in Reading hearts.

Other results of note on this most magical of days include Portsmouth 1-1 Coventry, with another Championship side valiantly defying a Premiership outfit entry to the fourth round. The fact that the Premiership team was Portsmouth does not diminish this tremendous display of heroism and pride as a goal from City’s David Bell almost provided the upset we all expect to see from the famous FA Cup third round. But a header from Kevin Prince Boateng levelled the scores for struggling Pompey and sent the terraces into wild spasms of unmitigated ecstasy.

Finally, my heart cannot help but mention courageous Carlisle, who almost rocked the footballing world at Goodison park until being narrowly defeated as their game finished Everton 3-1 Carlisle.’

‘Here are the results in full of a momentous, magical, magnificent FA Cup third round:

Accrington P-P Gillingham
Aston Villa 3-1 Blackburn
Blackpool 1-2 Ipswich
Bolton 4-0 Lincoln
Brentford P-P Doncaster
Bristol City P-P Cardiff
Chelsea 5 – 0 Watford
Everton 3-1 Carlisle
Fulham 1-0 Swindon
Huddersfield 0-2 West Brom
Leicester 2-1 Swansea
Manchester Utd 0–1 Leeds Utd
Middlesbrough 0-1 Man City
Millwall 1-1 Derby
MK Dons 1-2 Burnley
Nottm Forest 0-0 Birmingham
Notts Co P-P Forest Green
Plymouth 0-0 Newcastle
Portsmouth 1-1 Coventry
Preston 7-0 Colchester
Reading 1-1 Liverpool
Scunthorpe 1-0 Barnsley
Sheff Utd 1-1 QPR
Sheff Wed 1-2 Crystal Palace
Southampton 1-0 Luton Town
Stoke 3-1 York
Sunderland 3-0 Barrow
Torquay United 0-1 Brighton
Tottenham 4-0 Peterborough
Tranmere 0 – 1 Wolves
West Ham Utd 1 – 2 Arsenal
Wigan 4-1 Hull

It has oft been said that nothing can breed such fear and awe, as that which falls upon us often when we see the FA Cup fourth round draw:

Southampton v Ipswich
Reading/Liverpool v Burnley
Millwall/Derby v Brentford/Doncaster
Bristol City/Cardiff v Leicester
Stoke v Arsenal
Notts County/Forest Green v Wigan
Scunthorpe v Man City
West Brom v Plymouth/Newcastle
Everton v Nottm Forest/Birmingham
Accrington/Gillingham v Fulham
Bolton v Sheff Utd/QPR
Portsmouth/Coventry v Sunderland
Preston v Chelsea
Aston Villa v Brighton
Wolves v Crystal Palace
Tottenham v Leeds’

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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