Day: January 9, 2011

FA Cup Third Round Weekend 4: Norwich City 0-1 Leyton Orient

Josh Clarke supports Leyton Orient, but in his younger days was an apprentice with Norwich City. Sod’s Law meant that they would draw each other in the Third Round of the FA Cup, which meant an unexpected trip back to Norfolk for him. In what is normally the most romantic weekend of the English football calender, a week of deep introspection and soul-searching has left me unable to bask in the potential banana-skins, giant killings and Ronnie Radford moments that the FA Cup 3rd Round is capable of throwing up. The reason for my anxiety is that the cruel mistress that is the FA Cup draw, shoddily overseen by Noel Gallagher and Serge from Kasabian has slung together my two clubs. I’ve found out what happens when your home team, the team you know and love, comes head-to-head with your newly adopted local side. Indeed, it’s hardly a game to capture the imagination of the countries sporting press, but when Leyton Orient take the trip up the A47 to meet Norwich City, my usually unwavering loyalty may have an uncharacteristic wandering eye. Having represented the Canaries from a young age and becoming an apprentice for the club in my teens, I have a long personal history with the club from Norfolk. And for that reason, I should be supporting Norwich. I will be supporting Norwich. Yet the step taken...

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FA Cup Third Round Weekend 3: Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool

If there is one thing that the last few weeks of Roy Hodgson’s time in charge of Liverpool Football Club became notable for, it was the mass of contradiction that enveloped it. Hodgson was the wrong man for the job at the wrong time, but the hysteria that seemed to engulf the club as the team failed to find any consistency (they neither lost nor won more than two successive matches under his stewardship) ensured that rational discussion was, broadly speaking, the first casualty of the debate that ensued. By the time of Hodgson’s inevitable sacking (and let’s not start chasing down the the alley of that most misleading of football clichés, “by mutual consent”, here), it was reaching the level of something approaching collective psychosis amongst Liverpool supporters. The last couple of days have also served up several degrees of the toxicity that has come to be one of the most dispiriting parts of the build-up to any match between these two clubs. It reached a bizarre nadir with an inter-forum contre-temps between the Liverpool forum Red & White Kop and the Manchester United forum Red Café over comments made on the Liverpool forum which were attributed to an individual or individuals that hacked an account there. Plus ça change. Meanwhile, Glen Johnson – not playing today to attend the birth of his child – was making at...

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FA Cup Third Round Weekend 2: Stevenage 3-1 Newcastle United

It was in 1969, before man had walked upon the moon and before the introduction of colour television on BBC1 or ITV, that Newcastle United last won a major trophy. They beat Újpesti Dózsa of Hungary over two legs in the final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, a tournament that metamorphosised into the UEFA Cup two years later. In the second leg, Newcastle supporters may have taken the opinion that the black and white striped goalposts were a sign; a portent of the victory to come. Few would have believed at the time that, over four decades on, Newcastle would still have been waiting for a repeat of such triumph, but after this evening’s performance another year can be added to one of English football’s more enduring ticking clocks. It was in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in 1998 that Stevenage Borough almost caused one of the great shocks in the history of the tournament, forcing a replay against Newcastle before losing narrowly at St James Park in a match which included an Alan Shearer goal that didn’t seem to have crossed the line. Their supporters could have been forgiven for believing that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that passed them by but this evening, almost thirteen years later, offered them a second bite at this particular cherry. Things have changed somewhat in the...

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