Something For The Weekend (141)
It seemed rather appropriate that it was left to a Villa fan to hand over the FA cup to the winners last Saturday (fifty years on) and even if decorum and protocol prevented Prince William from actually wearing a Villa shirt, I am sure that he must have had his Aston Villa undies on, at the very least. Or even, if he really wanted to add a frisson of risk and double-dare to his Royal engagements, a full Dr. Frank N. Furter outfit, in claret and blue, beneath his sober dark suit. I think most Villa fans are all too eager to join him in doing the Time Warp once again.
A bit of Royal endorsement for Villa products would not go amiss. A nice pair of Villa slippers for his grandmother at Christmas would be a big boost for the club, and a shirt with Mountbatten-Windsor on the back would be a nice little earner for the Villa Village. In fact it is long overdue, as we haven't had a future prince of Wales in a Villa shirt since Trevor Ford. But the question worrying most fans, is whether the present reluctance to allow the Princes to participate in front-line combat duties, will prevent William from attending next season's encounters with Blues. It seems doubtful.
There is not much doubt that he is definitely a Villa fan and according to the treasonable Bluenose jibe, it is just a matter of establishing whether he made the decision, after his famous blow to the head, or before. But I don't care either way. In fact, it is such a brilliant story, never mind the honour, that should D.C. Thomson & Co, ever need a new character for the Beano or Dandy, a prince, who after a knock on the head, wakes up talking like Ozzy Osbourne and with a passion to play centre-forward for Aston Villa, would run and run. As the character gets various knocks on the head, during the narrative, he could flip from one identity to the other. After a clash of heads, scoring the winner in the cup, he says to the trainer, 'What is one doing here?'. And after being given a violent jolt to the royal cranium by a falling pheasant on a Sandringham shoot, 'Gerrus tow Villa Park our kid, we are playin' Ragged Arse Rovers' (A reckless ride in a gold carriage would then ensue). Of course the climax, would always be a scene where he presents the cup to himself.
Such was the sheer tedium of the FA cup final, I can hardly be blamed for such flights of fancy.
Despite the hype and some elaborate ceremonials, the £800m spent on the new Wembley, didn't translate into much of a TV spectacle and with a huge impenetrable shadow running the length of the pitch, it was possibly worse than the old one, for those seated at home. For the few hundred proper fans allowed in to watch their own teams in the flesh, it possibly could have been a slightly more comfortable experience, with each one being allocated their own toilet, but with the programme costing a tenner and with beer at £4.50 a pint, I don't suppose the need for toilet access was ever urgent. But at least in a few years time, they will be able to make the proud boast, that they were privileged to visit those bogs, the last time they were cleaned.
Architecturally the new edifice is a big let down and although I wasn't quite expecting a sporting version of the Gugenheim museum in Bilbao, I did hope that it might look a bit less like a schoolboy's vision made out of Meccano. I had always assumed that the strange arch thingy wotsit was a bit of temporary scaffolding put up, to help get the roof on, I didn't realise it was a permanent feature. But perhaps it was a reference to Richard Rogers' Pompidou Centre in Paris, which is sort of made inside-out but there again it might just be the product a typical FA committee; the same committee which chose the present England manager and the ones that went before him. Perhaps it should have been named the Ron Greenwood stadium. Surely if Douglas Adams can envisage a rocket-ship in the shape of a running-shoe, a football stadium along the same lines, is not too much to ask for.
It was a shame that so few real fans got to see the event live but I have thought of a perfect solution for this, which might even alleviate the FA's mortgage payment problems and actually increase the capacity of the ground. It just struck me that, as most of the hangers-on only every want to be able to say that they were there, why not set aside areas within the ground but not in sight of the pitch, where these people can swill the champagne, never have to bother themselves with a game they have no interest in and leave the seats for the proper fans. They would all be able to make the boast that they were there and be able to maximise the free hospitality - job done. A free DVD of the game could be issued as part of the welcome pack, should they wish to learn how things went at a later date. This would leave the
real fans to deal with the sordid details of the actual game.
Totally daft of course because it misses the obvious fact that the whole notion of exclusivity, is that not only do you enjoy the thing in itself but that you exclude those less fortunate, while rubbing their faces in it. And, just to prove the point, seats are being left unoccupied for the play-off finals rather than let some Albion oik or Derby dreadful, despoil them with their common northern bottoms.
Which, without even a hint of disrespect for our princely patron, amounts to a royal pain in the arse. By Steve Wade