So this week looks set to cure my football withdrawal symptoms, at least for a couple of days anyway – Thursday sees the Carling Cup first round draw and Friday, the Football League fixtures for the 2011-12 season. I’m going to concentrate on the former in this entry.
The Carling Cup is often known as the Mickey Mouse trophy, which is something I have never understood. At the end of the day it’s the chance to win a trophy and enter the European stages for the following campaign. It seems to me, however, that the trophy seems worthless when your team is knocked out, or play a weakened side – however, in the opposite case, becomes one of the best things ever when you win, or progress against opposition of a higher league or league position! I mean take last season, for example; nobody expected Birmingham City to win it and the biggest surprise was Ipswich Town (who eventually lost to Arsenal in the second leg of the semi final).
For me, although there isn’t the same kind of ‘underdog’ mentality which is displayed in the FA Cup, the Carling Cup is still a chance for a club in the Football League to cause a shock.
However, as a Barnet fan, I can’t say of late, there have been any real shocks as these results suggest:
My one big stand-out memory though comes from the 2005-06 season, when we managed to get to Round 3, following victories against Bristol City (4 – 2) and Plymouth Argyle (2 – 1) – with a plum tie against Manchester United, at Old Trafford. For us, it was the stuff that dreams are made of. I still remember to this day where I was when the draw was made, and my reaction to the game of my life.
However, those dreams turned to nightmares on the night. If you don’t know (or can remember that far back!) what happened: Ross Flitney, our keeper was sent off within 90 seconds for handling outside the area. Understandably it is a red card offence, but on a big stage where dreams are made, for a poor lowly team like Barnet, he should have been given the benefit of the doubt. From there, Scott Tynan (on the bench) had to replace Louie Soares and United scored from the resulting free kick. We were 3-down before Dean Sinclair scored the goal he’ll probably remember for the rest of his life; however, the final score finished 4 – 1. If you get chance, have a read here.
Just under 5,000 Bees fans went to the game though and the atmosphere throughout was amazing, possibly the best I’ve ever witnessed. Even before the game, it was electric inside the concourse. Even when our dreams were shattered within 2 minutes. Even though we were eventually defeated. That night still remains to be one of the best of my life, and I can honestly say, hand on heart, I’m proud to be a Bee.
So there we are, I’d like a nice easy-ish tie drawn on Thursday please, and the hopeful chance to relive a night like that one – minus the controversy of course!
Oh, and it’s needless to say that THAT official has never taken charge of any games since, and that’s the way I’d like it to remain.