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Semi’s, Squiggles and Sleeping Pills – Things I noticed from Wembley

After contemplating whether or not to do a separate “things” related piece on the rather sparse amount of FA Cup action, or whether to simply just include it in the regular PL one, I came to the conclusion I’d sleep on it and make up my mind in the morning. This was less a decision based on my admirable professional attitude and more one influenced by the five oversized bottles of inexpensive own-brand cider I’d just consumed in a fetal heap on my sofa in a futile attempt to numb the pain of having to watch that show where Andrew Lloyd Webber’s melted waxwork has to decide which shrieking failure of the British educational system gets the chance to f*** off out of Kansas every day for six months and twice on Sundays for the foreseeable future.

After failing miserably to fall asleep however, haunted by the lingering specter of Graham Norton’s voice, like some kind of awful panto Marley, I decided I’d pop a couple of sleeping pills and try and think about manly things like the Die Hard films or bacon in an effort to conserve my writing abilities for the morrow.

This didn’t really work. In fact all I’d managed to do by this point was rile myself up into a gibbering state, obsessed by the fact I couldn’t get to sleep and unable to think of anything other than rugged dirty men in vests trapped in perilous situations – which probably meant I had at least one thing in common with Graham Norton at that exact moment in time. To counter this now rather disturbing new thought, I knew there were only two things I could possibly do. 1 – Get up and write my article. Or 2. – Root around for my old Die Hard box set and have a bacon roll.

The first problem with this, apart from the fact that I now really wanted a bacon roll and it was three in the morning, was that I hadn’t actually seen the Chelsea-Villa game. Never watching iTV unless it’s absolutely necessary is a philosophy I’ve always stood firmly by, but it can on occasion – this being one – be a hindrance to blog writing.

Will he know it’s Christmas at all? – From squinting at a highlights package on the Internet, it stuck me that I hadn’t missed out on much I didn’t already know. Chelsea are better than Villa, Frank Lampard is calm in front of goal, and John Terry will be receiving considerably less Christmas Cards in 2010 than he did in previous years. Whilst his horror tackle on James Milner didn’t really look as nasty as everyone will most likely make it out to be  (a bouncing ball requires a raised leg after all) the most unpleasant aspect of the whole shebang was his vain attempts to pretend he’d been injured himself, then having the nerve to complain about it when he was eventually booked. He must have known he’d made contact, and where. Yet there was no concern for Milner. No friendly help up or modest admirable culpable gesture, just him, whining and moaning like a large triangular torso’d baby that someone had actually had the temerity to chastise him for something. All he gave two flicks of a wrist about was Big Man. Some people just don’t deserve to be footballers. There is no God. But I knew that already too.

The luck of the Irish – By now I’d perked up considerably due to the three cups of strong coffee I’d aggressively knocked back but was now desperately craving a bacon roll. I pushed through the pain however to find a brief but excitingly high quality clip of Marin O’Neill getting very worked up in that frustrated geography teacher type way of his – which is unfortunately the only level of worked upness he’s capable of. Bemoaning another bottled decision at the same end Villa were denied the sending off of Nemanja Vidic in the Carling Cup final, he clearly wasn’t a happy chappy. And it’s easy to see why. It was clearly a penalty on Gabriel Imuetinyan Agbonlahor, and when you need a bit of luck, you need it in cup semi-finals against tough opposition.

The frog man of Alcatraz – Someone who clearly got their fair share of luck against tough opposition was Avram Grant and Portsmouth in, thankfully, a match I actually watched. The world’s most miserable frog-man marched his way to Wembley to face his old employers as pundits and purist nationwide tried to think of imaginative new ways to say “the romance of the FA Cup” without falling into the cliché pit. There’ll be no great escape, but there may be a one last hurrah – as unlikely as that may presently seem.

I keep on falling… – The first half of Pompey vs Spurs was like watching a game of Pro Evolution being played by two people who’d never played it before and kept accidentally hitting the “fall over/dive” button for no particular reason in inappropriate situations. This was actually the fault of the notoriously unreliable Wembley pitch, which started to dig up – as it always does – as soon as anyone tried to run on it. It was never the less furiously end to end for 45 minutes, but without either team looking remotely like scoring.

Safe hands – David James, sporting a nice pink number and squiggly hair, managed to keep Spurs at bay whilst simultaneously looking like he was going to do something stupid at any moment, whilst Frédéric Piquionne twice found himself with a clear view of goal only to be distracted by Heurelho Gomes plasticine nose and attempt to hit the ball straight at it.

Still falling for you – After Peter Crouch had failed to score from two yards out on at least three occasions, the game went into extra time with Pompey barely hanging on. Yet, such is the nature of football, that just as it looked like we were going to penalties, the person controlling Michael Dawson accidentally hit the fall over button again and Piquionne prodded it straight down the middle of the goal for the third time, but for once under the sprawling Gomes and his comedy nose.

Wiley Coyote – By this point in the writing process, the three cups of coffee I’d drunk began to clash with the remains of the cider and the sleeping pills I’d taken a few hours earlier, which caused me to hallucinate slightly in a disturbingly colourful way. This made it all the harder to remember what exactly I was supposed to be remembering about this match. I vaguely remember Alan Wiley being woefully inept, but that could’ve been a flashback to any number of other memories from other games. From what I could piece together, Crouch had a goal unfairly ruled out after excellent work from the excellent Gareth Bale and Wonky Wiley gave a soft penalty in the last minute to wrap it all up for the Artists soon to be formerly known as Portsmouth Football Club.

By now (and by now I mean now, as in at this very moment of writing, which for me, regrettably, is now) the bizarre concoction in my blood stream began to misbehave, causing the letters on my keyboard to swirl up in a peculiarly calming manner to spell some new word that made absolutely no sense to me but which is still probably more understandable than Joleon Lescott’s hair. I could quite feasibly wake up tomorrow and find this has all been a dream, which would be fitting on a day when Portsmouth reached their second FA Cup Final in three years on the same weekend they were relegated. I’m sure John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood feels much the same on any given day. But if I’ve learned anything from the events this weekend, it’s that the romance of the FA Cup is still alive and well, that you can’t trust Spurs to do anything right, and that I should really plan ahead more.

Ah to sleep, per chance to dream. Goodnight.

You can follow Oscar on Twitter here;, Where you can ask him why’s he’s written all that in the past tense despite describing actions that were apparently happening in real time. You can ask, but he’ll ignore you as he’ll be asleep for the whole day.

Article title: Semi’s, Squiggles and Sleeping Pills – Things I noticed from Wembley

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