24 January 2009
The Saturday dawned with the unfortunate necessity of work precluding, once again, my ability to make it to football practice – something I badly need to do as the season is only 8 days away and I’ve not touched a football since the mid part of November.
As I prepared a batch of reports and waited for the conference call to start, I put Setanta Sports on the television and watched a game that I’d previously had no great desire to see. It was an FA Cup tie between Doncaster & Aston Villa. These next words will make no sense to my American compatriots as they can’t quite understand how it’s possible for a game to end in a draw. I maintain, and have indeed had many an argument regarding this, that a well-played match that ends in a goalless draw is ever so much more fun to watch than a lopsided, lifeless game that ends with 6 balls in the net. This Doncaster v Aston Villa match was just such. A true David & Goliath story, it did not matter that no goals were scored. I was riveted to the screen in the best match I’ve watched thus far this year.
At 91:14 seconds, it was fairly obvious that this match would end in a draw, and to me, that means everyone wins. In the FA Cup competition (the oldest Knock Out competition in the world), when a game ends in a draw, that game is replayed 10 days later at the other park. That means for a minnow like Doncaster, the ability to travel to Villa Park and play on one of the biggest stages of their careers in front of many thousands of fans – and reap the financial benefits of such a journey. The fans win because they get to travel to Villa Park and watch their team on that huge stage. Aston Villa wins because they reap the financial rewards of staging the replay at their park. It’s a brilliant system that encourages and empowers small football teams like Doncaster to play the best football of their lives against the current heroes of the pitch in the form of the English Premier League. It’s a dream come true for players, coaches & fans alike. In addition to all that, it produces some cracking football that, for the neutral observer, is utterly breathtaking.
When the match, and the work were over, I went to No Frills Grill and waited for Terrill to join me. We played some trivia and poker on the Buzztime network, then went off to watch Underworld: Rise of the Lycans – a decent movie, but the direction was lacking. It could have been so much better. From there back to NFG for dinner then home to watch a boxing match.
What a strange, yet delightful day.

~KR (Written on 25 January 2009)

Banal bleating by Rafael Benetiz in the after-game commentary

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.077 sec (1/13)
Aperture: f/5.0
Focal Length: 18.6 mm
ISO Speed: 320
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: Off