Monday 23 April 2018

Arsenal weren't the only ones to leave it late

Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey (centre) celebrates with the FA Cup trophy
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey (centre) celebrates with the FA Cup trophy
Aidan O'Hara

Aidan O'Hara

Is it acceptable to ask for the wifi password at a communion in a house you don't really know so you don't miss the FA Cup final and Barcelona match? This is the question I posed to Twitter on Saturday afternoon and, with it being a place where many people with similar interests congregate, the responses were entirely positive, even if none of them came from the house where the communion would be taking place.

Situations like this require tactics that start to ferment from the moment you are asked "do we have anything on?" on a particular day.

"No, but you go out and bring the 20-month-old child with you because I want to watch football," isn't a particularly acceptable response so a plan is required – all the more so when, a week previously, it's revealed that Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will kick off at the same time as the cup final.

Before mobile phones, keeping up to date with the score of a match you couldn't watch meant trips to the car, the kitchen or anywhere which might have a radio that would provide live updates. Before smartphones, it meant somebody texting the score which is functional but light on detail.

Nowadays, Twitter and other sources make it possible to know almost everything that's going on but leave you vulnerable to questions about who the pig-ignorant fella in the corner is that is permanently attached to his phone.

The house, and the people in it, it must be said, are great but thinking about the many conversations had there in the past, there isn't one I can recall about football. Unlike popular perception, football fans are actually capable of having a decent chat without using the phrase "did you see the match last night?" but, when there is a game on at the same time, it's difficult to escape the little voice in your head constantly wondering "what's the score?".

PLAN

The plan, therefore, is to set both matches to record at home and, having already ruled out the presence of any adult acolytes, put your faith in the kids' desire to ignore the fact that it's a beautiful day outside and television is much more fun than being out in the fresh air. Without the presence of a teenager, it's a plan doomed from the start.

Arriving just over an hour before kick-off, the first challenge is to remember the names of several people who you are being introduced to for the first time while simultaneously scanning the garden for jerseys of any of the teams involved.

In theory, Arsenal would be the best bet but, then, this is a communion party for an eight-year-old who hasn't been alive at a time when Arsenal have won a trophy and nobody ever started supporting a team because of their constant ability to qualify for the Champions League. He would know far more about 'The Incredibles' than 'The Invincibles'.

Hull City have plenty of Irish players involved but don't seem to have the same appeal of Aston Villa in the early '90s. Given that Villa's popularity then has resulted now in many despondent Irish Villa fans in their early 30s, this might not be a bad thing.

The football hipster following of Atletico, it seems, hasn't quite cracked the market for eight-year-olds which leaves Messi and Barcelona but, given that there is no Sky Sports in the house, this would only add to the frustration.

In the end, the only football crest present is on a young boy who is kicking a ball against the wall while wearing a Liverpool T-shirt. It's tempting to advise him not to slip and fall over like Steven Gerrard but while being the guy constantly on his phone might be just about acceptable, being the guy slagging the eight-year-old and making him cry probably isn't.

With the knowledge that the game is being recorded at home, the decision is taken, after checking the starting line-ups, to avoid the scoreline, which – with nobody else really interested – is remarkably easy, and a pleasant 45 minutes of chatting like a normal person ensues.

Unlike the last one, this plan works perfectly until 5.15 when a well-meaning text from a friend who knows my predicament simply reads "2-0 Hull".

This is, undoubtedly, the worst possible scenario because having convinced yourself you might not be missing anything, you now know that either way you are going to be missing either an Arsenal implosion or an Arsenal comeback neither of which, despite repeated past viewings, ever gets old.

The early bed-time of the aforementioned 20-month-old means you calculate that you can catch the last 10 minutes, having recorded the previous 80, although the last cunning plan to be home in time for a match was foiled several weeks ago by a traffic jam and her being car sick – nothing, therefore, is certain.

Arriving home, you realise that you had been on auto-pilot in the rush to leave and unplugged everything meaning that nothing is recorded. The final five minutes of both matches, extra-time and recording the highlights later will have to do.

Seeing Atletico celebrations and Aaron Ramsey's goal means the evening wasn't a total waste (and the communion too, of course) although, because extra-time messed with the television schedules, the recorded highlights became half an hour of 'The Americans', 15 minutes of ITV news and the highlights to the point when Santi Cazorla scored.

It could, of course, have been worse but the plan for next Saturday with a Championship play-off final, a Heineken Cup final and a Champions League final one after the other will have to be better. Like Arsenal, there's only so many times you can get away with living dangerously.

Indo Sport

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