Arsenal 11 Newcastle 1

The FA “Cup” as it is customarily called is a competition held in high esteem – mostly because it is an opportunity for little “clubs” who have no chance of winning anything to have their day in the sunshine (or in the case of Wigan’s pitch, mud).  We think of Havant and Waterlooville, Hereford, Newcastle “United” – teams like that which carry on year on year, never going anywhere much but hoping against hope that this year will be their year to have a “cup upset”.  Indeed Newcastle United (or the troon barmy as they are known to locals) are a particularly fine example of this tradition.  Their supporters turn up in their traditional raiment’s – the men with extra layers of fat and no shirts, the women dressed as dogs, following an edict from an earlier chairman – and they make quite a bit of noise for a while, although it trails off after a while. They travel a long way too – for Newcastle United share a ground with Exeter City at the other end of the “country”.  And, so it is said, they love to play attacking football – claiming that a 5-4 defeat pleases them more than a 1-0 victory. 

Unfortunately to be able to get a 5-4 defeat the team needs to be able to score four goals, and for this two issues need to be resolved at Newcastle.   One is that they have to learn about the “offside” rule – their players (especially one delightful little fellow who gloried in the name of “Owen” – I’m not sure if that is his first name or his last name or both) being caught “offside” several times a minute throughout the “match” (as it is known).  The other is that in order to score they need shots on target.  While Arsenal had 11, Newcastle had just one – and that was headed off the line by an Arsenal full-back placed there just for that purpose.   They had two more attempted shots blocked – so they didn’t actually reach the target (although various “newspapers” suggested that they did in as much they counted them as “on target”). But I am sure that over time these things will be resolved and that these jolly chappies with their chippy induced mid-riffs plus their ladies in dog uniforms will get it right over time.    

I left the ground feeling rather sorry for the Newcastle United “manager” a Mr Kevin Keegan.  Since he became manager his “side” have not scored a goal.  But the Arsenal supporters were magnanimous in victory, changing “There’s only one Kevin Keegan” to the very final whistle. “Awaythelads” or words to that effect.