Well, that was a day. Manchester United and Mark Clattenburg beat Crystal Palace to win the FA Cup whilst North of the border, former Bees boss Mark Warburton saw his Rangers side go down to Hibernian in the Scottish equivalent. As for the main news, it would seem we have incoming at Brentford – Matthew Benham has fired up the cryptic clue generator once more.
But I need to start with the FA Cup final, simply because it had the footballing community gripped. And, as is so often the case, it was what happened off the pitch that provided many of the talking points. Certainly for the so called ‘neutrals’ – although how many can ever be neutral in a game involving Manchester United remains to be seen. Of those I spoke to, most were cheering on Goliath rather than David in the hope that Crystal Palace could lift that famous trophy.
Where do you start ? Alan Pardew’s dancing, surely. With Jason Puncheon giving Palace a deserved lead his manager couldn’t help but launch into an touchline routine as he channelled his inner John Travolta. And it was bad. Like the worst of dad at a wedding after a few too many beers. More Alan Partridge than Alan Pardew.
Yet who am I to criticise? If you win it makes you even more of a hero and adds to the moment. There can’t be too many managers to have seen their side take the lead in an FA Cup final and so fairplay to him for enjoying the moment. Even if it was, almost literally, a moment as United equalised within minutes.
If nothing else, it is something that is sure to go down in Cup history like Trevor Brooking’s header (apparently, he scored once and West Ham won the cup), Chas and Dave, Radford’s rocket (yawn) and the White Horse.
I hadn’t realised this but apparently Palace and Manchester United had met in the Cup Final before. Back in 1990. I was out of the room at one point getting a drink but I’m pretty sure I came back just in time to hear that fact mentioned.
And then again. And again. And again. The BBC had a crowbar and they were going to use it. I had ‘1990‘ on my FA Cup bingo card (along with ‘Fellaini elbow‘ – which took longer than expected) more as a token gesture than anything else. Sure enough, the BBC obliged.
We had the obligatory feature with Ian Wright during the build up. Specifically revisiting the estate he grew up on and the patch of grass where he played football as a youngster. I’m sure we’ve seen variants of this before, many times, but it’s still such an inspirational story. I loved the fact the BBC had gone ‘old school’ and, like last year, had a whole series of final related shows and features starting about five hours before kick off.
Ah yes, before kick off. When the players should have been walking onto the pitch proceedings were delayed as the FA Cup tried to go ‘Super Bowl’ – but on a budget of 50p. Instead of the Rolling Stones or Coldplay (thank heavens for small mercies) , we had Tinie Tempah bouncing around a purpose built stage on the centre circle.
Perhaps this delay was the reason for the subsequent ‘sound malfunction’ with the National Anthem. What a moment in any singer’s career. With the eyes of the world watching, this was her time to shine.
Yet as the band started, former X-Factor contestant Karen Harding stood motionless, clutching the microphone to her waist and waiting for I don’t know what. “Has she forgotten to sing?” asked Mrs. Bruzon on the sofa next to me.
To be honest, I don’t know what happened. Stage fright? Abject terror? Brain freeze? Or just missed her cue? Even if there had been an issue with her earpiece, would the fact that there were 100,000 people in the stadium singing not have been a clue?
I guess we’ll never know the real reason. Karen joined the rest of us in time to sing the last 9 (nine) words. Like Pardew’s dancing, it was another moment that will be written into the FA Cup’s already voluminous history.
She got there in the end
As for the game, Jesse Lingard’s extra time winner was a goal to light up any Cup Final (Boom – the sound of another cliche going off). It was a wonderful strike to give United the lead after Juan Mata had hauled them back into it, courtesy of some brilliance from Wayne Rooney.
The X-men actor and England man revelling in his midfield position as he provided a stunning assist for the equaliser. Rooney’s name may not have been on it but his strength and purpose as he worked with the ball for what seemed an eternity deserve genuine recognition.
Mata’s equaliser had the additional bonus of meaning BBC coverage over ran further and, as a result, saw the subsequent cancellation of the alleged comedy ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’. It was only a shame that the same privilege couldn’t be extended to Michael McIntyre following full time.
The other person needing special mention was referee Mark Clattenburg. Twice in the first half he stopped proceedings and denied Palace genuine goal scoring opportunity, instead bringing the ball back for their ‘advantage’. Once was bad enough but to do it a second time had even Alan Pardew making note.
The irony of former referee Mark Halsey’s comments last year that Clattenburg should have had the 2015 final were not lost. At the time he was quoted on the BBC as saying:
“I’m amazed that they’ve not given him the final…
“I would imagine that Jon Moss will feel a little bit sheepish that he doesn’t really deserve it and Mark Clattenburg does.”
“How many times has Mark done massive games? He’s done the Uefa Super Cup this year, big Champions League games and earned plaudits. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Well, Mark. There’s your answer.
At the end of the day (Clive), Manchester United won it. You can’t deny them their moment and, certainly, they celebrated like they’d just beaten Leyton Orient (Russell? Russell?? Russell……?). Players, fans and management were ecstatic. Understandably so.
Likewise, congratulations must be offered to Louis van Gaal and his team. I’m sure they’ll both grow from here and the Dutchman will be a force to be reckoned with next season. Now he has a first trophy under his belt, his stock is sure to be rising with the Old Trafford board.
As for matters North of the border, Hibernian beat Rangers 3-2 to lift the Scottish cup. Sadly it wasn’t quite to be for Mark Warburton although I’m sure he’ll be more than happy with a season that has seen his team promoted to the top flight.
David Gray scored a late winner for Hibs which, aswell as sparking a post match pitch invasion / riot (delete as applicable) also saw our own Matthew Benham launch the cryptic clue generator once more.
Matthew posting a YouTube video on Twitter is a well known sign in Brentford circles that a new player is about to come to Griffin Park. The only problem with these being that they normally require a doctorate in brain surgery in order to decode – even after you know the answer.
This one seems remarkably simple. David Gray singing ‘This Year’s love’. Surely there was more to this than Mathew’s intent to sign the Scottish full back?
His clues are never this simple. Sledge hammer like unsubtly just isn’t Matthew’s style.
Could this mark a new approach from our owner? Transfer news being announced by a clue that even yours truly can unravel? Or is there a hidden message in there ?
I’ve not got the time to decipher David’s lyrics to try and find out whilst, being honest, nor would I want to. It’s for good reason the ‘Babylon’ singer is currently residing in popular music’s ‘Where Are They Now?’ files
As ever with Matthew, I’m sure the answer isn’t what it seems at first glance. It could be as simple as his having had a bet on Hibs to win the cup.
Then again, I’ll have my eyes on Brentford official this Monday. Just in case…..
And finally, as ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.
It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.
Thank you for reading.