A Mickey Mouse Cup?

Posted by john_mac on December 2, 2004, 09:08:12 PM

It seems like almost forever now that it has been known as “The Mickey Mouse” Cup, but how many memories it holds. Back in 1977 I remember our blue brethren being leathered by us for being arsed about it and even more once Terry Darracot fell over the ball for Villa’s winner in a second replay, yet twelve months later it meant so much when the European Champions fell to Cloughie’s Red Bastards thanks in no small part to that feather-cutted cheating twat Pat Partridge.   

That was to prove only to be the start of things in this cup for us though, a competition Shankly never even wanted to enter was to become synonymous with his successor. Who could forget Sammy Lee dancing in front of Phil Parkes at Wembley as Barney crashed the ball into the net, or the performance from a young Ian Rush in the replay in which the winning goal remains the abiding memory, with the possible exception of the hundreds of flying jacket West Ham skins waiting at the bottom of Witton Lane?

Ronnie Whelan at Wembley gave as good a performance as we have ever seen to almost single-handedly land the trophy twelve months later, which was followed by perhaps the most endearing moment the same cup has ever produced, as Sir Bob claimed the steps below the twin towers to become the first manager ever to receive a trophy at the famous stadium. The marvelous Merseyside exodus to ‘the smoke’ in 1984 was followed by the icing on the cake at Maine Road.

The tournament has been a constant source of pleasure to reds, events like Rushie's first goal after his return from Italian exile at Walsall, Robbie’s debut at Fulham followed by his five in the second leg, twice twatting the Superstore from the other end of the East Lancs in finals, even Uncle Roy managed to win the thing!

The semi-final at home to Palace in 2001 was an undoubted turning point of that season, and Robbie’s goal at Cardiff as well as Carra’s pen were marvelous, bettered only by the now traditional celebrations around the Welsh capital. A return back to Cardiff and another victory was probably the last great day of Houllier’s reign, but we fucken enjoyed it.

Many would claim the trophy has been devalued by teams playing weakened teams, but it has undoubtedly been one of the great breeding grounds for young players, not least some of those who have graced the red shirt, not least those mentioned above.

Which brings us fittingly to this season. How I was bloody dreading extra time as the game against Boro appeared to be drawing to its inevitable conclusion, till the much maligned Mellor had his say. Now I’m not going to say Neil is gonna set the world on fire but since I first saw him as a bungling teenager he has come on in leaps and bounds. His enthusiasm and commitment is beyond doubt, even if his lack of pace and sometimes clumsy control is sometimes a bit embarrassing, there is not a doubt in this fucken world that the lad knows where the goal is and his Liverpool career has been littered with goals at every level. I can’t help but feel the lad does not have what it takes to be the top class striker we need, he can make it at some level and the way he plays the game does give me the impression that he may be one of these players who improves as he gets older.

1st December 2004 and a trip to White Hart Lane to watch a team that has struggled to set the Premier League alight, even if a few of them where part of the under 19 squad which won the league a couple of seasons ago. Even on the back of Sunday’s glory it was hard to see us competing let alone carry off an unlikely victory. The lads performed magnificently, competing in every department with debutant Raven and the extremely talented substitute Welsh coming in for particular praise, along with the old babysitters of the team Dudek and Henchoz - either could slot straight back into the first team immediately. The boys from the Anfield Spion Kop were also in fine fettle, just how can our away support regularly be so good while our home support (Sunday and midweeks apart) is generally so bad? The best chant of the day was saved for the coach  journey home with the a rendition of the Pink Floyd classic, with the classic chorus

“Hey, Rafa, Leave the kids alone!”

A fucken great day all round, and in my eyes even better than Sunday and that was another great day. I know that not many will agree but I can’t help but think that footy is about having a ball and winning things. It's about your weekends away and cup finals, it's about Wembley, Rome, Paris and Cardiff. Finishing third or finishing fourth just doesn’t inspire me in the way Ronnie Whelan curling it around a floundering Gary Bailey does, it’ll never inspire me like watching Bob Paisley walk up the stairs below the twin towers does. I don’t mind finishing fourth, I love my European trips but you take anything away from the glory of winning a cup, a Mickey fucken Mouse or not, and the days and the times the Football League, the Milk, Coca Cola, Worthington and every other guise it has come in, have been absolutely brilliant , a ball.

Mickey Mouse Cup? My arse, its our Mickey Mouse Cup!

© john_mac 2004

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