When I’m not writing this blog, another way in which I like to inflict misery on myself is by following Barnsley Football Club.
It’s not my fault. I was born there. You can choose your team in that way about as successfully as you can choose your family. I now live within shouting distance of the Emirates Stadium, and while I’m pleased when Arsenal win, I like them as a friend, but I can never love them.
To be a Barnsley fan is to be intimate with disappointment, for it to be one of your default emotions. Barnsley aren’t rubbish – if theyb were simply crap, maybe we could walk away. The frustrating thing is that every now and then there is a flash of what they are capable of, and then they are deeply, deeply mediocre.
We were seventh in the Championship when I came back from India, starting to look like real contenders for a play-off slot. And then we took December and January off. We got two draws and a defeat from the three bottom placed clubs, and lost to everyone else. When we win, we win by one. When we lose, we lose by three. We dropped to seventeenth. And then we played
West Brom, who were top of the table, and beat them comfortably. You see the pattern?
And so to Saturday 16th February 2008. We were 14th in the Championship. Liverpool were, as usual, fifth in the Premiership. Our two most in-form strikers were cup-tied, and the goalkeeper whon was responsible for most of our victories was our for the rest of the season with injury. We’d just signed West Brom’s tjhird choice keeper on loan, a man who’s had two starts in the last 18 months.
He hadn’t even had time to learn the defenders’ names.
The bookies were offering 16-1 on a Barnsley victory; 1-5 Liverpool. The papers said things like:
“Against Barnsley in the FA Cup the Reds should be hopeful of putting away a few goals and easing into the quarter finals without too much bother.”
Ninety minutes later, they were saying things like:
“One of the greatest upsets in FA Cup history.”
Yes, when this happened:
it was arguably the biggest upset since Barnsley beat Man U 3-2 in the fourth round in 1998.
Big clubs get famous victories every season. For Barnsley it happens once every ten years.
What, you want to talk about beer? OK: I celebrated with a bottle of Paradox, a 10% Imperial stout from Brew Dog matured in Islay Malt Whiskycasks. What beer would you celebrate such a famous occasion with? What have you got in your cellar or cupboard that you’re saving for a very special day?