Something For The Weekend (219)
FA Cup deja view!
Forgive my bad French but I can't help noticing that the years seem to go by so quickly this decade, that Ronnie Radford seems to be a permanent fixture on the TV: it hardly seems like five minutes between last year's and this year's replay of his muddy rocket. Even I am sure he's going to score by now. And, to be honest, the novelty of seeing Newcastle lose, wore off ages ago.
Ronnie's rocket and that white horse - it's about time ITV thought up some new and better clichés to keep us engaged with the FA cup.
I am not a big fan of the early rounds of the FA cup anyway: it has made me suffer too much over the years. There's fun to be had watching Forest Green (with there Villa connections) do themselves proud but for Villa it always seems like a game they could do without, played by rules which risk key players, in a competition they can't win.
Its hard to feel romantic, while you are freezing your nuts off, while watching a game of hoof and clog, in that post-festive Slough of Despond, known as January.
For starters, I struggle to see anything romantic about some ex hod-carrier, trying to kick lumps out of their betters, on a pitch which looks like a builder's yard, while some commentator describes the ensuing GBH, as evidence that its a 'man's game'. So it may be, but so too is spectating, and when commentators talk crap, you can't help wanting to punch them. Which is both traditional and romantic.
In the FA cup you definitely need an enforcer or two to survive, the threat of, or actual, GBH.
So it was with this prejudice in mind, that I felt a warm glow in my Villa heart when big Marlon came on at Gillingham, to add a bit more muscle to Villa's front-line, after the world had witnessed our Ashley take a good kicking in the name of sport and romance. Marlon didn't actually kick anyone but his physical presence and his rather menacing 'come and have a go if you're hard enough' look on his face, seemed to change the game in Villa's favour. Villa up to that point had not managed to dominate The Gills, either by football or physically, and their patchy performance left me scratching my head at their present Premiership status.
Gladly, Ashley won the moral argument and their professional foul was not quite professional enough - cool penalty from James Milner - job done.
But in the end, all things considered, Gillingham deserved a draw and were unlucky - Villa's defence made enough mistakes to have gifted them another goal or two. Even man-of-the-match Milner, was less than impeccable and Villa picked up some yellow cards, they could do without. But the FA cup is all part of a long season's attrition I suppose, all meant to stretch the resources of the smaller squads, in the interim, before its won yet again by one of the usual suspects.
Some romance that.
Everyone can't resist making jokes about Stoke City reducing the width of their pitch to make Rory Delap's throw-ins even more effective but I am not sure anyone has noticed that Villa have the widest pitch in the Premiership, which gives Villa's wide-players a yard or two extra to operate in. This might account for why Villa never look good on these dreaded away days, in the lower divisions - and no one could say with conviction that Villa looked good on Gillingham's sod-strewn acre.
Villa's less than convincing passing game must now do it all again at Doncaster, or Cheltenham.
Not as though the perils of Cheltenham or Doncaster have been too high on my list of Villa worries, these last few weeks, as the drip, drip, of the banking crisis has dominated every fibre of the media. With things progressing so well for Villa, I am never too far away from the thought that its a bit too good to last.
So with every bank or investment house that has gone to the wall, I couldn't help but have a few bedtime worries, about whether Randy's wedge was safe or not and the Madoff fraud with its New York Jewish connection, has just about scared the b'jesus out of me and thoughts of a fire sale were never far from my mind. Obviously with the media so determined to milk the crisis for all its worth (to them), they dragged up the Equifax report to ensure that doubt, fear and misery, percolated into every aspect of the British way of life and football was not left out.
Fortunately, as it seems to have managed to exclude the troubles of West Ham from its calculations, I think it is safe to assume it is out of date, or not the measure of anything that matters. But as I wrote that last sentence, I couldn't help noticing how difficult it is to type, with your fingers crossed, while stroking a rabbit's foot and knocking on wood.
Hopefully, Martin O'Neill will hand over a large cheque for the player of our dreams in the next few weeks and put all our minds at ease.
Okay, that's unlikely, for several reasons, such as MON's habit of buying players who invite responses, like. 'Who?', 'Not him!, or 'Never'.
Matthew Upson, Emile Heskey and Kenwyne Jones fulfil at least two of the categories, even if none of them look like that mythological creature, known as the 'twenty goals a season man' - the holy grail of fantasy football. A player I would love to sign, just because I think he looks to have a great future, is Daniel Sturridge. He really looks like the one Sturridge who could make it big and I don't think Man City will give him the chance he deserves. But hey, that's just me - and I thought Savo was brilliant.
But whoever and whatever, unless Randy gets his jet impounded by the bailiffs, I think Villa will continue to fly.
Bring on the Baggies.