Dependable Erection

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

FA Cup

I love this story in the Guardian about tonight's FA Cup replay between Nuneaton Borough of Conference North. and Middlesbrough of the Premiership, about 120 places above them.

It is a pre-match routine which might not appeal to Mark Viduka or Gaizka Mendieta, but spending the day producing shower cubicles and the evening working as a chiropodist seems to Nuneaton Borough's Michael Love a perfectly normal way to prepare for tonight's FA Cup third-round replay at Middlesbrough.

Love's 13-hour shift highlights the disparity between Nuneaton's part-timers and their Premiership opponents, though the chasm was not evident 10 days ago when the Conference North club secured a draw through Gez Murphy's late penalty.

. . .

It is a match which Love, in particular, intends to savour. Eight years ago he was in the Stevenage team that drew 1-1 with Newcastle to earn a replay at St James' Park, though a metatarsal injury in the first meeting meant that he travelled to the north-east only as a spectator. "I went to clear the ball and as Keith Gillespie took it off me I kicked the bottom of his foot," the left-back recalls. "Gillespie went on and crossed and [Alan] Shearer scored. I carried on but when [Giuliano] Grazioli equalised just before half-time I jumped on him and felt the bone snap.

"That put a dampener on it really and that's why the games against Middlesbrough mean a lot more to me. I thought I'd had my bite of the cherry; you think it's once in a lifetime that you'll play against the likes of Shearer, so for it to happen again is unbelievable."

. . .

Fame of sorts has followed, with Love's face the new screensaver of choice at the factory where he spends four days a week assembling shower units. Not that he has had time to dwell on his Match of the Day appearance; while Middlesbrough's players were putting their feet up yesterday evening he was telling his clients to do the same as he began his part-time job as a chiropodist. "It's hard work at times finishing at the factory and then going out to work again," he says. "I'll often start at eight in the morning and finish at nine at night. But I do enjoy it. It's just a case of making that transition where I can get enough clients and do it full-time."

Best of luck tonight, Mike. Enjoy the match.

Update: 'Boro-5 Nuneaton-2. Let's hear it for the amateurs.

Dressing-room tensions and disappointing results have turned Steve McClaren into an insomniac but Middlesbrough's manager should have slept soundly last night.

While McClaren was left to temporarily forget his Premiership woes and dream about a fourth-round tie with Coventry, Roger Ashby, Nuneaton's manager, returned to the Midlands well beaten but still able to feel immensely proud of his team of plumbers, builders, teachers and driving instructors.

Guardian football.



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