Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An old fashioned romance

Cinderella has removed her jacket and offered Hansel and Gretel outside.

It’s the battle of the fairytales, as the Scottish Cup goes head to head with its English counterpart. Will it be Ross County or Portsmouth who warm the cockles more come the 15th of May?

I suppose, in case the title of this blog isn’t giveaway enough, I should probably declare a slight conflict of interest in favour of Scottish football.

But, come on, it says everything you need to know about the rotten heart of English football that some papers are trying to paint Portsmouth’s run to the final as a triumph for the romance of the FA Cup.

I’m happy for their fans. But the Portsmouth story is of greed, mismanagement, dodgy dealings and disaster. An all too common football tragedy but hardly the stuff that dreams are made of. “Hey, look at us, the best league in the world driven to the brink of meltdown by an insane belief in the value of naked greed, let’s all celebrate that one of the worst offenders has actually been rewarded for one of the craziest season’s football’s ever known.”

If they ever come to film the story of Portsmouth then I’m guessing it’s more likely to be directed by Oliver Stone than it is to star Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

Compare that to the tale of Ross County. Of Derek and George Adams providing a dash of family magic. Of more people than actually live in Dingwall watching them at Hampden. Of their ascent from middling Highland League club to national finalists.

Of them out-fighting, out-thinking and out-playing Celtic.

A script that the Hallmark Channel might turn down as being a bit too treacly.

It might be argued that we’ve been here before with Gretna but when we followed their story we were watching a mirage. Ross County’s feet remain on the ground. Gretna, like Portsmouth, had their heads in the clouds and were too dizzy by the prospect of success to realise that the madness that enveloped them was slowly killing them.

Romance in the cup? You can ignore the south of England. It’s all happening up north this year.

Robbie Keane
Only here for the money? Perhaps. And, as gambles go, his £65,000 a week wage must now be considered on of Dermot Desmond’s less impressive punts. One thing though, Scottish football’s richest player at least gave the impression of wanting to win on Saturday. His attitude to teammates that seemed to want to do nothing more than disappear suggest he’ll not be hanging around in the summer.

I’m sure his weekend didn’t improve when he saw Spurs crash out to Portsmouth giving Keane an unusual, perhaps unique, cup double.