FA Cup Bazookas Far Better Viewing Than Jordan's

Last updated : 10 February 2004 By Bernard Azulay

Perhaps it will have been a palliative thought that the vast majority of his potential voters were otherwise preoccupied.

With my missus sunning herself in Tenerife, obviously my only interest in this salacious tosh has been to keep her informed of the celebrity comings and goings. So when Robbie Keane's stunning strike put Spurs two up after only 20 minutes, I soon lost interest in a rare walkover at White Hart Lane and hopped channels in order that I might give Ró her nightly update. Who could have imagined there would be more boobs to be seen in the exciting extravaganza unfolding on Sky? Ten in fact, in shirts the colour of the flag they should have raised at half time, with Tottenham's tits making Jordan's bazookas look positively petite. I imagine they were as dumbfounded as the Odead cert' punters who bet over 200 grand on the Lilywhites (more like lily livered!) at the break with odds of 1/100 ON. Even more amazing on an incredible evening all round was the mad muggins who put 10 grand on Spurs to win at 1/25 on, when it was 3-1 and still had faith to throw away a further £8k at 4/11 on, after City scored a second!

I am just relieved that I didn't become sufficiently engrossed to forget the footie, flicking back just after the break to find ten man City had just scored. But it wasn't the scoreline which caught my eye, but the commitment from the City boys which absolutely captivated me. What with the African Cup of Nations in addition to our usual fix, us addicts have been knee deep in the TV's wall-to-wall coverage of recent weeks. Considering the endless hours of relatively uneventful football by comparison, I would have been absolutely gutted not to have seen the second half of this sensational game. It wasn't the thought of missing out on the malicious pleasure of our enemy's misery. Truth be known, compared to the bilious grudge borne by most Gooners, I might even have a soft spot for Spurs after so many years.

Ever since the element of serious competition between the two clubs evaporated, there's been little satisfaction in the Schadenfreude from watching my Spurs mates suffer. Or perhaps there's more pleasure in the sadistic knowledge that my sympathy is probably far more painful than any piss taking? Nevertheless the completely frazzled expressions on the faces of White Hart Lane's not so faithful, shown on our screens after the final whistle almost had me feeling sorry for them. No matter how long our Highbury high, you never forget football's cruel capacity to tear your heart out and terminate all hope for yet another season, with one disastrous, belief defying dig of fate's fickle finger.

Yet dammed as they are to a life devoid of any success, the quality of my Spurs' mates mercy is to say the least, a little strained! I'm sure you can imagine how they danced the previous day, when their nemesis' new £17 million debutante delivered Boro into the Carling Cup final, by scoring in the wrong net. The way they wallowed in our reserves' minor mishap, one might have thought it was the Arsenal's season that was over. As a result my compassion after their cup calamity didn't quite stretch to remaining completely silent!

My closest mate was furthest away from this fiasco, up a mountain in the Alps. As grateful as he might have been for the timing of his skiing trip, I queried whether he felt the slightest pang at not having been present to witness this FA Cup classic in person, perhaps the most infamous game seen at the Lane for this and many a season. His response came in the form of a picture message of him lazing in a sun lounger, surrounded by the snow and azure sky of a chocolate box alpine backdrop. To all intents and purposes it looked as if he had indeed "got away from it all".

However amongst the ever diminishing amount of grey matter which makes up the memory of someone who sometimes struggles to recall the scorers' names even before we've walked out of the West Upper, there remains an indelible image of Ronnie Radford tonking one in for Hereford against the Toons thirty years ago. Much like this and that wonder goal against us by Giggs (which grates all the more because I've never rated the Welshman's rampant run around a leg weary defence of dinosaurs approaching extinction!), there's no hiding place from such momentous occasions. The victims are destined to be haunted until doomsday by endless TV replays.

Whereas for the neutral the past week or so has been a positive festival full of all the ingredients which are the very essence of that which gave someone cause to name football the "beautiful game". Much has been made of the Man City faithful and their twelfth man part in propelling their side through to the prospect of a mouthwatering Mancunian derby in the 6th round - for the most part by the misanthropic media pundits who've made such fun of poor Kevin Keegan's failings that they can't entertain the idea that it might have been partly due to his "I wud love it!" inspiration!

You won't find a greater advocate for the potential of fan power. I constatnly bemoan the fact that audience participation is largely limited these days to a reactive crowd, rather than pro-active. Although there are only certain moments during most matches when vocal support can influence the outcome. If winning games was simply a matter of "singing ones hearts out for the lads", Wolves would have won Saturday's game before it started. As we approached Molyneux a few moments after the whistle, I broke into a trot because of the noise level, thinking that we must be missing some noteworthy action. Despite having the most to sing about, the library like quality of Highbury has left me quite unaccustomed to the sort of volume possible from fans who are prepared to participate in their afternoon's entertainment.

I was horrified when, having taken our seats, the poor Gooner Gal from Singapore who'd accompanied us, went to take a pee and Dennis Bergkamp promptly put the ball in the back of the net. I'm amazed that some papers made Vieira MoM, because personally I think it was the sort of muscular midfield battle first half, which in his pomp Patrick would have presided over imperiously. Whereas with the Wolves fans haranguing several debatable free-kicks out of the official and their team's hell for leather attitude, there were some seriously worrying moments. Mercifully come the second half, simultaneously Wolves ran out of steam, as the Arsenal slipped into overdrive.

I'm often teasing Tottenham fans for the way they live off the vicarious scraps from the Arsenal's increasingly rare mistakes. However I'm embarrassed to admit that there we were at Molineux, more interested in news from Goodison than the supremely professional efforts in the game going on in front of our noses. I'd long since given up on the Toffees doing us any favours, but one learns to recognize the rumbling murmur of the terrace telegraph and on tuning in my terrace tranny, I joined the cacophony of incredulity on hearing that Everton had equalized.

We've grown to expect Utd to win with the last kick of the ball. Róna's convinced it must have been a condition in the Red Devil's deal with the one with the three pronged fork. Still they succeded in scraping some of the gloss off the Gunners afternoon in the Midlands by inadvertent means. Apparently Sky were the culprits. In an instant of an incorrect caption appearing on screen showing the Toffees as having taken a 4-3 lead, such welcome news swept the length of our terrace like wildfire. So much did I want to believe, that I even questioned the evidence of the live commentary blasting in my earhole.

I dread to think I've started taking our success for granted and joined all the other ingrate Gooners, for whom three points away from home and plenty of football to admire is not quite enough. Since nothing is more certain to guarantee the swift kick in the guts of yet another against all odds upset than the fateful forgetfulness that it does indeed remain "a funny old game"!