not a member? click here to sign up
Feast Of Steven
The F.A. Cup Final proved that some footballers give value for their pay packets.
Tony Cascarino, 19 May 2006
Hopefully everybody who stereotypes footballers as being arrogant, lazy and overpaid was watching on Saturday as the Liverpool and West Ham lads worked their bollocks off for the cause. By the end of extra-time, they looked like heavyweight boxers who’d gone the distance!
With the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United fielding weakened teams in it, the FA Cup has become devalued in recent years, but this was a great advert for a competition that still has the ability to capture the public’s imagination.
It’s been overlooked amidst the heroics, but Reina and Alonso were both dreadful in the first-half and Steven Gerrard had a 20-minute period when he was incapable of picking out anyone in a red shirt with his passes.
I’ve seen him give the ball away cheaply in a few games this season, which doesn’t bode well for the World Cup where mistakes like that tend to be punished. He's a battler, though, and kept plugging away when a few of the other Liverpool heads had dropped.
My heart went out to West Ham and, in particular, Marlon Harewood who’ll be replaying that extra-time miss of his for months to come. 9 times out of 10 he'd have left the field with the injury he picked up, but he played on and couldn’t make the body do what the brain told it.
The guy started the season with people questioning whether or not he was Premiership quality, and ended it with 14 goals and a chance of sneaking into the England squad. The Cup didn’t pan out the way he’d have wanted it to, but otherwise he’s had a fantastic campaign.
There are two misses I had as a player that still haunt me – one at Gillingham when a simple tap-in got passed back to the teammate who’d squared it to me, and the second against Everton in the F.A. Cup when I was 30 yards out and just had Neville Southall to beat – or not beat as it turned out! The Mickey-taking from the terraces is nothing compared to the going over you give yourself.
The weekend’s other big story was the corruption scandal in Italy, which confirms what most people have thought about the game there for years.