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Day: March 8, 2008

Tired & Emotional

Savour this evening, and tomorrow. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that you should savour the rest of this season’s FA Cup competition, because Big Money won’t allow an oversight like this to happen again. We’re half-way through the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, and Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool aren’t going to win it. Neither, for that matter, are Everton, Newcastle United, Spurs or West Ham United. In fact, of the six clubs left in this year’s competition now, two of them (Bristol Rovers and Middlesbrough) have never won it whilst none of the other four have done since West Bromwich Albion did in 1968 – of the other three, Cardiff City won it in 1927, Portsmouth did in 1939 and Barnsley did in 1912. Whatever happens from here on in, it has been an absolutely engrossing tournament so far, and the clubs left in the tournament should be proud of what they have already achieved. We will also get to see two FA Cup semi-finals and an FA Cup Final which are more than a weak consolation prize for teams that have spent the whole of the season with their eyes on other, bigger prizes. These matches will mean everything to those concerned, and the competition will benefit as a whole from this. Also, the prize of European football next season in the...

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Too Much, Too Young?

Some of you will have already seen the piece that I wrote for “Pitch Invasion” on the boom & bust football culture in Essex over the last fifteen years or so. The dangers of being dependent on a single benefactor are being thrown into even sharper perspective north of the border, where Gretna FC’s existence is now under threat as the result of a serious illness contracted by their long-time owner and benefactor. With few assets and money draining out of the club in an alarming fashion, the big concern is that they will not be able to survive a spell in administration. It is, I have to say, yet another cautionary tale for supporters hoping that a multi-millionaire will walk into their club and make everything alright. Gretna spent their first few decades scrabbling around in the lower reaches of the English non-league game, before transferring into the Scottish League in 2002. With Mileson providing considerable financial backing, they soon showed that anyone with a bit of financial muscle could overpower the semi-professionals of the Scottish lower divisions, and they became the first club in the history of Scottish football to be promoted from the Third Division to the SPL in successive seasons. As they won the Scottish Second Division title in 2006, they also made it to the Scottish Cup final. They lost on penalties at Hampden...

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