Today was the draw for the “Copa Del Rey”, the King’s Cup. I think in every country smaller team’s players and fans group together around their TV or radio in the hope that they’ll get dream draw. The great names of football are in there; Real Madrid. Barcelona. Manchester United. Liverpool. The expectations bring butterflies in the stomach. The moment comes, and you have the plum draw. YES! That’s where the similarities come to an end.
The images today from Xativa and Cartagena (who drew Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively) were of an excess of celebration, as if they had won already. Scenes of great celebration, an outpouring of joy more real and felt than that you will see at any celebration of Real or Barça’s thirtysomethingth title winning bash.
Now I’ve seen lower league teams in England draw United or Liverpool, and be delighted. But theirs seems to be a delight drawn of the chance to have a stab at putting a giant out of the cup. Creating an upset that will enter the town’s folklore. Of giving Rooney or Stevie G a battle and maybe even a kick. Of doing a Ronnie Radford. And in the FA Cup you have good chance of doing just that as it’s a fair draw, no seeding, no two legged advantage in case the big guns slip up. The champagne can wait until the big day and if the dream comes true.
In Xativa and Cartagena they already popped the champagne, even though they know they have little or no chance of getting into the next round. It’s become a question of economics and an adulterated draw – ties are two legs, and the bigger team plays at home the second leg. Why? That’s unfair advantage. In any sport, unfair advantage just isn’t cricket. They have already won, as normal attendances in their division are nowhere near enough for the clubs to keep the players and staff up to date with their salaries. Or pay the taxman. Or the electricity. The chance to rub shoulders with the stars, play at the Bernabeu or Nou Camp, exchange a shirt with a hero, and the possibility of actually getting a couple of months pay is plenty to celebrate, as practically the only way to fill a stadium and get the payday is to draw Real or Barça. The romance is gone. It’s just economics.
Another “interlull” is on the horizon. I can’t get too excited about international football these days. There I was again rolling my eyes in disbelief seeing that Spain have gone and selected Diego Costa – a Brazilian. He qualifies as he’s been in Spain more than 5 years. But that doesn’t make it right, not in my eyes anyhow. Jack Wilshere said the other day (and was crucified for it) that "The only people who should play for England are English people. If I went to Spain and lived there for five years, I'm not going to play for Spain”. I applaud him for saying what he feels – and agree. I’ve been in Spain for 24 years and there is no way I’ll support Spain over England. Hell will freeze over first.
That Diego Costa has openly flirted himself to Spain is one thing, but that they have actually gone ahead and selected him is another altogether. I think in England there would be outrage if we did something similar. Here it seems as if winning a Euro, World Cup and another Euro means that now winning another world cup is demanded. Like the blancos demand Real Madrid win the league every season, and by any means necessary. If that means taking someone of another nationality, that seems to be OK if it means they have a better chance of winning. I disagree. There are ways of winning. For example, I find Chelsea and Man City’s endless millions mean any achievement has a big * next to it, * meaning of little real merit. Winning internationals by having a striker who isn’t Spanish in any way, to me is just cheating. Frankly I’d rather lose with 11 of my own.
Video : Ronny Radford becomes inmortal. The giantkilling.