There’s shaky old footage on YouTube of Manchester United defeating Northampton Town 8-2 in the FA Cup of 1970. On a pitch that, while it may not have resembled a ploughed field, definitely had the top worked down on it. That, however, didn’t stop George Best from setting a record by netting six times over the course of the 90 minutes. It most certainly played a part in Bobby Charlton putting a chance over the bar that I would’ve scored myself.
What really stood out on the video, mind you, was the bit of romance which only the venerated ancient competition can generate. Boggy pitch or not, the old ground heaving with spectators, every one of whom seemed to invade the field at full time in an attempt to get close to the legends in red.
The first really big FA Cup shock which can be properly recalled in this seat was Wimbledon’s usurpation of what was an exceptional Liverpool team at the time. Sadly, however, my first proper memory of the grand old competition goes back to that awful day in Sheffield 32 years ago when 96 fans perished on the day of the semi final at Hillsborough.
When thinking of noteworthy happenings on the pitch, the competition is a treasure chest thereof. The first of which that comes to mind was Wrexham’s conquest of Arsenal in what from memory was 1992. From an Irish perspective, there was an extra layer of interest in that particular turn up for the books owing to the presence on the Welsh team of Cork man Brian Carey.
The redheaded centre half had been on the books of Manchester United for a while and may even have been capped by the Republic Of Ireland on a couple of occasions. The Rebel County has no shortage of soccer stars – from the greatest of them all Mr Keane, to Brian Carey, Denis Irwin, Bryan Barry-Murphy and the late Liam Miller. They would probably lay claims of sorts to both Kevin Doyle and Shane Long given that both men got their career breakthrough whilst plying their trade at Turner’s Cross.
However, it would appear Kerry are on a bit of a comeback trail. Now, they would most likely be inclined by the banks of the River Lee to claim John Egan Jnr as one of their own. For me, however, the talented son of the legendary father must be regarded as a Kerryman given that his father was a legendary son of The Kingdom. In any other part of the animal kingdom a being’s breeding is determined by the identity of the sire!
That being the premise, soccer down by the Maine is experiencing a serious upsurge in profile between Caoimhin Kelleher having broken into the Liverpool first team and Egan remaining a shining light despite it being an extremely difficult season for Sheffield United.
If a poll of happy Kerrymen was conductef this week though, even Donie O’Sullivan – who exploded to international stardom whilst covering the riots on Capitol Hill will have concede top spot to a unique son of where the pale moon was rising…
Manager of Chorley Football Club – no, I’d never heard of him or them either – Jamie Vermiglio, who, though born in Liverpool, was raised in Killarney and played all his youth football in the town. Moreover, his parents and other relatives still live there.
On Saturday, Vermiglio’s charges beat Derby County in the third round of that FA Cup. Yes, that’s Derby County, managed by Wayne Rooney. Former Premiership side who, not all that long ago, under Frank Lampard, were within a whisker of getting back there.
Killjoys will no doubt put an asterisk beside the result. Rooney and most of not all of The Rams first team were isolating due to Covid, thus the Championship outfit fielded a combination of their U-19 and U-21 teams. Let there be no caveats though, they’re still well paid, highly skilled professionals taking on a team whose greatest fuelWas their own courage and dreams.
Do you remember the episode of The Simpsons where Marge in one of her crazed schemes trying to change the world got sugar banned from Springfield. Until eventually even Judge Sneider needs his fix and revokes the ban?
When the kids are going through withdrawls, Dr. Hibbert calls for “20 CCs of sugar – that’s chocolate cupcakes – immediately”. Well, anyone that wondered about what the Cup meant nowadays got their answer in spades. Notwithstanding the fact that nearly all the Premiership teams field formidable lineups therein, two CCs of shocks proved the magic of the Cup lives on.
After Chorley’s defeat of Derby County, Crawley Town went one better when evicting Leeds United from the top tier. Crawley first appeared on my radar what is probably around a decade ago when managed by John Gregory – formerly of Aston Villa. The two minnows will be on everybody’s radar now.