Wednesday, 2 May 2007

The Beautiful Game

It’s been a long while since the Bill Blunt by-line appeared at the head of a football match report. Time has moved on apace since those halcyon days of the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s when I was at my peak, and it would be graceless of me not to recognise it.

Last night, I spent an amiable few hours in the company of an old friend, watching the semi-final of the European Champions League in which the Mighty Merseysiders, Liverpool, finally demolished the hopes of the South London arrivistes, Chelsea.. A triumph of substance over style, the match had me on tenterhooks right until the last penalty clincher.

Tonight, the prospect is real that another north-west team, in the shape of Manchester United, may accompany Liverpool to the final at Athens on 23 May 2007. This could, then, be a great day for English – and more potently, north-west English – football.

The particular triumph, for me at least, has been that much of the tournament has been broadcast on terrestrial television. I am someone who turned his back on the Empire of Murdoch many years ago, which means for me that I not only spurn his Sun and his Sunday Times, but also his satellite services. You will search in vain for an ugly dish stapled to the outside of Blunt Mansions.

How I wish dear old Johnny Mercer had been alive to witness this potentially proud day for his native north-west. How he would have enjoyed the hubris of the soft southerners as they left the field last night, their metaphorical tails betweens their legs, like a pack of limp dogs in search of an apt simile!

“Money Can’t Buy Me Love,” as the Beatles put it all those years ago. Last night, their fellow Scousers proved it couldn’t buy a Russian businessman a place in the final at Athens, either.

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