Monday, February 27, 2012

12 months on...

Today is the first anniversary of Blues' amazing Carling Cup win. This blog records my attempts to dampen expectation in the run up to the final, my feelings on the day itself, and the moment when my brain finally accepted what had happened, and the emotions finally flowed. I watched that video again over the weekend (twice, if truth be told) and even now the song, "When Blues win the cup", brings the hairs up on my arm and threatens to reduce me to tears.
What happened afterwards to Blues could hardly be described as euphoric, but the implosion that followed our relegation hasn't yet happened. The manager and team we have now have done the club proud, and ensured that despite all the tribulations the last 12 months have been a happy one: the Europa League campaign, the push for promotion (despite the 2-1 defeat on Saturday, ending our 15-match unbeaten run in 2012) and the goals scored and quality of football being served up under Chris Hughton.
This is Blues - it will end in tears, we'll lose the FA Cup Fifth Round replay with Chelsea a week tomorrow on ITV1 and our league form will probably disintegrate. But whatever else happens, we'll always have this day, last year, for eternity.

My only regret this morning is that my brother doesn't get to share this feeling. His Cardiff side took Liverpool all the way to penalties in this year's Carling Cup final yesterday before succumbing in the most heartbreaking way. It took me back to 2001 when a certain Championship club close to my heart did exactly the same thing against the same opposition. It seems Liverpool can't beat lower league sides in major cup finals without the help of a penalty shoot-out where they get to both choose the ends and take the first penalty. It's weird, but this weekend I've thought more about 2001 than 2011, presumably because of Cardiff, who also lost the FA Cup Final in 2008, never mind the play-off final last season. I can only hope they deliver some silverware to their fans soon, but you have to fear they've had their chances for the foreseeable future.

It all goes to reinforce how big a shock last year's cup final win was. Since 1995, only one club has beaten a side from the "big four" (Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal) in a major cup final. And it was us.

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