Six Years Ago Today: “Cup Minnows” Jibe Returns to Haunt Man U – by Rob Atkinson


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Jermaine scores at the Beckford End

As a result of the famous encounter between Man U and Leeds United in the FA Cup 3rd round of 2010, the Pride of Devon famously won yet another honour when a national newspaper awarded their incautious webmaster the “BIGGEST HOISTING BY YOUR OWN PETARD” accolade. When Man U drew Leeds or Kettering in the FA Cup third round, their official website’s headline was: ‘United To Face Cup Minnows’ – a banner that could just possibly have referred to Kettering, who still faced a second round replay at Elland Road. The sly intent of a dig at Leeds United escaped nobody though and, unlikely as it seemed that the United of Elland Road could pull off a shock at the Theatre of Hollow Myths, there must have been one or two wiser heads who were groaning at the sight of such crass bumptiousness – and wondering how anyone could possibly wish to tempt fate so. As we all know, the events of that day resulted in an almighty shock, joy for the fans of the Damned United and the renaming of one end of the Man U ground as “The Beckford End”.

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Not what she’d been led to expect of “minnows”

Such unwise overconfidence had been seen before in the name of Britain’s least modest and unassuming club. Back in 1992, one of the many commercial outlets which swarm around the Salford-based franchise like flies around steaming ordure, were guilty of a comparably embarrassing cock up. Tasteful sets of lovingly crafted Man U candles, unsuitably inscribed with the legend “Football League Champions 1992″ were offered for sale at an enticing price with the confident slogan “To commemorate our forthcoming title success”. Sadly for the manufacturers, demand turned out to be low for these attractive souvenirs, due to the fact that Leeds United had the poor taste to win the league by four clear points. There is a warehouse somewhere in a dingy area of a dingy city that houses these unwanted reminders of failure, along with “Champions” t-shirts, flags, banners and other associated Man U tat that was at least twelve months ahead of its time. The overweening desire to win the last proper League Championship was evidently far too strong for mere considerations of caution, humility and wisdom to stand much of a chance, and so it was that Man U chalked up yet another example of chickens being counted before the formality of hatching was complete.

A picture also exists of a humble functionary hastily dismantling a Man U “Champions 2012” banner, which had become abruptly redundant when Sergio Aguero scored in the dying moments of Man City v QPR to clinch the title for City and leave the Devon and Home Counties half of Manchester crying into their prawn butties.  The tendency towards the assumption of success before it’s actually been earned appears to be a recurrent problem at The Greatest Football Club In The World™ (Copyright © Most of the Gutter Press Including BSkyB). Most football fans would find this sort of thing humiliating enough to make their teeth curl up and die, but the Man U bunch are curiously insensitive to such feelings, buffered as they are by relentless “Biggest and Best” propaganda to perpetuate their comfy if mythical self-image. The odd cold dash of reality is never quite enough to quell this methane-fuelled flame of hype and self-aggrandisement so, apart from the odd uncomfortable wriggle in armchairs all over the south of England, Man U fans continue quite happily in their own little pink fog of Freudian delusion.

The flip side of this excruciating coin, though, is the fierce, intense joy and satisfaction of a pompous bubble satisfyingly burst for the fans of whichever club is on the other half of the equation. In the examples quoted above, Leeds (twice) and Man City have found the joy of achievement considerably enhanced by the fact that the complacent hordes of glory-hunters had clearly expected victory to come about as of right. This is an exquisite refinement of Schadenfreude – the pleasure of achievement by virtue of bursting a despised rival’s over-inflated balloon is sweet indeed.  The fact is as well, it’s not just the fans of this ridiculous club just outside Manchester who assume success will be theirs – the moguls of the media are right in there as well, wanting and expecting. The shattered expressions of Elton Welsby and Denis Law, after Leeds won that title in 1992, told their own story. The cameras lingered mournfully on the shocked faces of Phil Jones and S’ralex Ferguson at the Stadium of Light in 2012. There was a distinct lack of the enthusiasm you might expect of news-hungry hacks, in the wake of the defeat of the champions by a third division club in the FA Cup in 2010. The media have their markets to think of; replica shirts, newspapers and satellite dishes must be sold in Devon and Cornwall, Milton Keynes and Kent.n These not-so-impartial hacks really want Man U to win, and their confusion and misery in the event of a shock is just bloody wonderful to behold.

To be the agents who have brought about misery of this order – for such wholly unattractive and unadmirable institutions – is to know a defiant and glorious joy of virtuous achievement. In the long run, largely due to off-field pressures, Man U will win trophies and the assembled lapdogs in the press will yap their hymns of praise and ram the whole charade down the throats of the rest of us. But every now and then, it all goes wrong for the anointed favourites – and then there are good times for all right-thinking people, the ones who want to see a more level playing field and some even-handed competition as we used to have it. Leeds United drew that era to a close by becoming the Last Real Champions, but there have been the occasional reminders of it even during the Murdoch Man U dynasty, when the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, City and – yes, Leeds United too, have stood up to be counted and have given the establishment club a bloody nose. It’s times like those that keep the old spirit of the great old game feebly flickering away, that stop it sputtering out altogether. Long may these rays of light continue to shine through the boring gloom and procession of the modern game.

Howard Wilkinson, Sergio Aguero, Jermaine Beckford, Arsene Wenger, Simon Grayson – and all the other heroes – we salute you.

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Sergeant Wilko – last English Champion, Last Real Champion

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19 responses to “Six Years Ago Today: “Cup Minnows” Jibe Returns to Haunt Man U – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Will you ever appreciate Man United as a football club, as most sensible intelligent fans can do to their rivals or will you let your hatred completely cloud your views and writting. “The last real championship” F**k off. “The pride of devon”, look at the parade around Manchester when united won their 20th league title! Yes everyone like a bit of banter, but it’s as if you genuinely belive it! Deluded.

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    • It’s not banter for me where the scum are concerned. They represent everything bad about football and have presided over the transformation of the game from a sport played on a level playing field to a tacky American-style soap opera where appearances and image are everything and the anointed stars are relentlessly promoted by lapdog media. So in answer to your plaintive question, I’m entirely serious and utterly dedicated to attacking Man U and everything they stand for.

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    • In a word NO and the parade around manchester ? Ey it was a long way home for most ! We’re not deluded you did buy a few titles but thing is we have always hated scum even when you were shit and we hammered you 5.0 and Paul Reaney had the great george best in his pocket . Liverpool had years of domination but they had class , not spouting off every two minutes about how they or in your case ‘yernited’ are the dogs bollocks . It showed and they proved it as when we won the league at Anfield , Billy Bremner took them to the kop and to a man they sung champions to us . Neither did they ram it down people’s throats with 19 printed on every piece of memorabilia they could think of. Yes 20 titles we know but not one was won with honour or grace . I just have the image of 11 men surrounding the referee calling him all names under the sun when he gave a throwing against them with ferguson leading them on . Ferguson even managed to make the great Kevin Keegan lose his bottle . Real class . I really hope city win the title this year and once again I can watch all you cockneys crying on the tele again . Now that was class !

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  2. I hope you don’t get 30,000 e-mails supporting you Rob and clogging up your blog. But all Leeds United fans will agree with you 100% as I do. happy new Year from the Philippines.

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  3. Good on you Rob, keep it up Regards Martin in NZ

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  4. Kia Ora from New Zealand again Rob, keep up the informed attacks. Nothing said here that wasn’t 100% correct. Regards Martin

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  5. LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT, especially when you get a bite.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU and all Leeds fans everywhere.

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  6. It was a great day rob , a 3rd division outfit , all be it a sleeping giantare worth waiting for , , out fought and out sung the glory hunters of devon and thier so called champions , I was in the toilet of hollow myths the last time we’d beaten them there , Brian flynn etc , somethings are worth the wait though rob and this victory was sweet

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  7. I think you could be right lol ,, I can’t believe it was 4 years ago either , great post though rob , brought back some great memories yet again , MOT

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  8. Steven emsley

    I BIll the Devon express must have moped for sum easy money that day to fill the streets, I work with a man ure supporter from Devon when I asked how often he gets to watch them he said every week as they are always on the TV ………. This stadium rocked with the sound made from the travelling supporters yes BIll get it loyal passionate supporters now have another cider and put ya feet up .

    keep it up Rob I love it when SCUMss hollow fans bite

    Steve from Aus

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  9. The Talksport commentator in the recent Spurs/Scum game pointed out that the away end was chock full for the 12 o’clock kick off despite the fact the first train was not due in to Kings X from Manchester until 12.20pm…nuff said!!

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  10. Celebration of great cup win and a picture of Manchesters greatest “stunner” too rob.

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  11. Lovely stuff Rob. Your bitterness towards Man U knows no bounds and always gives me a chuckle when I read your website.

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