By Tony Attwood
Context is important. Something that appears trivial at one level might appear monumental at another. Everything always depends on context.
So let us consider the context of the FA Cup this Sunday night.
- Oldham 3 Liverpool 2
- Leeds Untidy 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
- Brentford 2 Chelsea 2
- Queens Park Harry 2 MK Dons 4
- Norwich City 0 Luton Town 1
- Even St Mirren 3 Celtic 2
And let us consider the very half-hearted comments on Arsenal’s much changed team’s win at Brighton (although to be fair ITV called it the match of the round for excitement).
But naturally negative comments about how Arsenal had to bring on the first team regulars to secure the win abound – but the fact is we won, where Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, QPR and Norwich did not win.
Yes our last goal was deflected – and that was the cause of a lot more negative media commentary – but I seem to recall a Liverpool goal getting a deflection as they attempted to avoid defeat, and that goal was praised.
Of course we have won nothing yet, but we are in the 5th round, and have an interesting and potentially exciting game against Blackburn Rovers.
The league table (giving games played, goal difference and points) shows Blackburn in 15th in their league with a goal difference of +1. A winnable game.
We will of course comment more on Arsenal v Blackburn in the future, but for now I’d like to move on to another game: Luton v Millwall. This is interesting in the FA Cup since those of us with a historical memory will recall 13 March 1985. This was a memorable match because Millwall Bushwackers were well known to be interested in fighting at matches, while Luton Town were followed by the MIGs. It proved to be fiery.
Luton Town administrators were requested by Millwall to make the Wednesday night match an all-ticket game, but Luton Town, seemingly anxious to maximise the revenue, refused.
A large away following, which Millwall always had, and which was often more than the number attending home games, attended the area. Anyone who went to Luton Town’s ground at the time will know it was a really awful dump, with utterly insanitary toilet facilities, and the ground hemmed in by terraced housing and small streets.
When Millwall fans ran onto the pitch towards the Luton fans there will nothing the totally outwitted forces of law and order could do.
The Millwall manager at the time, George Graham, pleaded with his fans to go back to their terracing, and having appeared on the touchline personally, they followed his request. Fighting continued throughout.
Following the game, two opinions were expressed. One came from the Ipswich Town manager Bobby Robson was that “[the police] should have turned the flamethrowers on [the fans]“. Such views, which owe more to the Third Reich than a democracy, revealed something of the man. Chelsea chairman Ken Bates stated that he intended to erect electric fences at Stamford Bridge. This comment told us nothing we didn’t know. If he ever tried to do this, the police and local authorities certainly stopped such manic responses and Stamford Bridge remained free of a death wall.
The Luton Town chairman, Conservative MP David Evans, stated that he would never allow his club to play Millwall again, ignoring the fact that it was Luton who had utterly failed to the reasonable request from George Graham’s team that the game should be all ticket, and that such a refusal was contrary to the rules of the League and the FA. (Neither organisation took the local fellow seriously, and the matter was let slip). Evans did however impose a ban on away support from the start of the next season, and the country’s first full-scale membership only club was initiated.
M Thatcher, a politician of often fanatical and extreme right wing views (who decision to liberate the banking sector of the British economy resulted in the current recession), set up a “Football Hooliganism War Cabinet”, which stated that similar membership schemes would have to be adopted by all clubs nationwide. Again the fact that Luton had singularly failed to take the basic precaution of making this an all-ticket match, was ignored.
One presumes that Nick Owen, the current Luton chair, will not fulfil the wishes of David Evans, and refuse to play the game.
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