There was a goal explosion in the Premier League yesterday, so Match of the Day led with the all the games with the highest scorelines, starting with Manchester United 7-1 Blackburn, a match that was wholly uncompetitive and totally over before half an hour was up.
Stoke v Manchester City was the penultimate game, having the same scoreline as Fulham 1-1 Birmingham, but with a slightly higher comment value as Manchester City are ‘the richest club in the world’ and we are Stoke. The edit consisted of a dismal and flat collection of moments that wholly missed the narrative and the atmosphere. Stoke battered, marmalised, and terrified Manchester City in the first half without ever scoring. At one point England ‘keeper Joe Hart was so traumatised that he sliced a clearance horribly short into touch and immediately buried his head in his hands as he realised what this would mean: yet another missile from Delap.
In the second half the richest players began to get on top and for a while they overran us until ultimately they scored, right-back Mica Richards playing himself in with a beautiful dummy as, back to goal, he allowed the ball to travel past him before turning, latching on, and burying it bottom corner. Ninety minutes were nearly up and defeat was going to be hard to take. We had outplayed them for long periods and there was really nothing in it. We had a late free kick that came to nothing, the last chance. Then they gave our ‘keeper the ball, cheaply. He punted it up field. Kenwyne flicked it on. Tuncay, on as a second-half sub, back-heeled on the edge of the area to Etherington. Etherington curled it into the bottom corner and the place errupted.
We have been in our season-ticket seats for two-and-a-half years, as have all those around us, we are, really, by now, family, and this moment saw the biggest outbreak of joy and affection the family has known. The bloke next to me kissed me. In these circumstances, not to lose means more than to win. Three sides of the stadium rattled the Mancunians’ song back at them: City, there’s only one City.
Note to MotD producer: That is football; 7-1 is a practice match.