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02/03: Reports:

F.A. Cup Semi-Final, 13/04/02, 4.30pm
By Matt Rowson

A quiet weekend. Sleeping. Telly. Bit of tidying up. Pictures.


Tuesday. Palace. Oh jolly good.

Now, what's next.

Oh bloody hell....

Calm, calm, calm. Deep breaths. CUPFINALCUPFINALCUPFINA... Count to ten. Onetwothreefourfivesi... we could be playing Barcelona next season. Bet Patrick Kluivert's never seen anything like Sean Dyche. Ha ha. No, calm, getting a bit carried away. Sunday. Yes. Semi-Final. Bloody hell...

Okay, Southampton. Good draw, good draw. Not Arsenal, they'd have given us a kicking. Not Sheffield United, they'd have given us another kind of kicking. And what kind of semi opponents would they have been ? Like a blind date with your ex. Yuk.

Southampton. Fine. Exciting but winnable. Oh yes. Winnable. Premiership team, yeah yeah yeah. Decent side, yeah yeah yeah. But that Beattie gets all their goals, doesn't he? The rest have thirteen in the league between them. So we just sit on him and where's the problem? Bet nobody else has thought of that before either. Get well, Marcus. Bloody hell...

Anyway, it's a cup game. A one off, done and dusted on the day. Sunday. Yes. Form counts for nothing, the cup, the great leveller. Or was that Death? And Palace beat Liverpool who are above Southampton and we know that Palace are total arse. We can do it, we can we can we can.

The portents. The stars, the signs. They're good. They're all good. Cup Semi-Finals. Nineteen-seventy. Chelsea. London team. Boof, ouch. Eighty-four. Plymouth. South-coast club. WALLOP! Big George, get in. Ear's to big George (geddit?). Eighty-seven. Spurs. London Club. Boof, ouch. Evil. Two-thousand-and-three. Southampton. South-coast club... there's a pattern, kids, there's a pattern...

And that Plymouth game. Nineteen years ago Monday. Good cross Barnesy, BOOF! Big George! Villa Park a sea of yellow, and elsewhere Saints are losing to Everton...

A year ago Sunday. Portsmouth. Away. South Coast club. "Umm Quasr is just like Southampton". "Either he's never been to Umm Quasr or he's never been to Southampton. There's no beer, no prostitutes and people are shooting at us. It's more like Portsmouth". Bloody fantastic. Still, South coast club. Get in Danny Webber, one-nil the 'Orns. Give us a shout Danny.

Nineteen Eighty-Four again. Luton, Charlton, Brighton, Birmingham, Plymouth, Everton. Wembley. Yellow and Red and Black. Big George and Mighty Mo. Sunday is Mighty Mo's fortieth birthday. GET IN. Oh bloody hell...

Goalkeeper. Niemi. A bit good. Also a bit injured. Knee. Should be okay. Ho hum. If not, Paul Jones. Ex-Stockport. Only keeper ever ever ever to fall for Miles' favourite, the goal-kick "AH!" thing at Vicarage Road. Obviously a bright boy then. Watch the pretty balloons Paulie...

Right-back. Not Jason Dodd. He's injured, bruised foot. So it's Paul Telfer. Nice chap. Used to play for Luton. Wish the Saints well, whatever happens Sunday. But not you, you ugly graceless little twonk.

Left back. Wayne Bridge. England international, sounds like a village in Yorkshire. Francis Benali's still around too. Scary man.

Centre backs. Michael Svensson. Hard. Claus Lundekvam. Hard. Still, harder they come, bigger they fall. Or something. Or Paul Williams, another mate of Gordy's from Cov, or Danny Higginbotham, who played against us at Pride Park earlier in the season.

Centre-mid. Not David Prutton, he's cup-tied. So he won't be able to pick up another red card for going over the ball. Idiot. Matthew Oakley, though. Fetcher and carrier. Useful. Maybe Rory Delap, inspiring but with sore ligaments. Has been out a while. If not, Anders Svensson. Swedish. No, really.

Right-mid. Fabrice Fernandes. Left-footed, right-sided. Supply line. Outlet. Played for Fulham in Division One, and didn't like a knock. Perhaps Robbo will oblige, if we ask nicely. (Perhaps he would have anyway.) Or Federico Arias. Argentinian, signed in excitement. Not seen since. May not exist.

Left-side. Marsden. Mixer. Rested for two games to avoid missing this through suspension. Brought back Saturday. Booked for aggro with Bowyer. Good decision, then, but fair play to him anyway.

Up front. Beattie. Just Beattie. Bloody hell. Get well Marcus. Who'd have thought that a year ago? We need Marcus to mark the Premiership's leading scorer. That's the way to do it, Vialli. Helguson in midfield indeed.

And Ormerod. Probably. Runs a lot. Then runs some more. Pulls defence all over the place. No mobility without him. Doesn't like to shoot, or anything drastic like that though. Or Kevin Davies. Lazy tub of lard, speaks like something from Jeeves and Wooster. Tends to score important goals though. Which probably isn't good. Or Jo Tessem. Who used to be a policeman. No Pahars. No Delgado. Both broken. Shame.


Sunday. Focus. What do you mean I've got to go to work for the rest of the week? What manner of cruelty is this?

Everything ready. Tickets, check. Transport, check. 4,200 balloons (yes!), check. Yellowness, colours, scarves, hats, make-up, everything. Check.

Good. Let's go then.

Bloody hell.