[UPDATE: For the hordes arriving here after searching for the comedy catchphrase “Jumpers for goalposts”, you’d probably be better off reading this.]
Yesterday afternoon, I interrupted some desk-bound consulting work that, even if I weren’t prevented by an NDA from doing so, would put you to sleep instantly if I told you about it, to listen to the second half of Aston Villa’s five-goal match with Everton. I’m glad I did. Briefly: Ashley Young overturned a late-injury-time equaliser from Everton with an even later winner.
It was an extraordinary thing to happen anyway, but, watching afterwards on the Internet, there was something about the desperate joy of the goal that almost brought a tear to the eye. And Young is so small and so fast and so, er, young, with his little gloved hands fanning back and forth looking like they were hidden by oversized shirt sleeves, that he could have been a schoolboy winning a game on the local recreation ground. The cameras also caught the moment afterwards when Martin O’Neill, Villa’s manager, grabbed Young and shouted at him: “You’re a genius! A genius!”
It must have been maddening for Everton supporters, but all the neutral commentators I heard loved it. As the team in the studio on Match of the Day afterwards said, the whole game was like a journey into the past—in a good way. The ref let the mostly English players play, and they played mostly English football: it was furiously fast with benign but fierce tackling that was fairly policed and wasn’t marred by diving.
- Villa against Everton is the fixture that has taken place more times than any other in English football and, until today, each side had won it seventy times.
- Martin O’Neill has never lost at Goodison Park, either as a player or a manager.
- Ashley Young went to school with Lewis Hamilton. Who would you back to win a race from a standing start over fifty yards—with Hamilton in a car?
Right. Back to work.