I had a chance to do something today which I rarely get to do anymore. That’s to sit and watch Fox Soccer Channel for several hours in a row on a day other than a Saturday or Sunday (when I’m usually glued to the Premier League).
Of course, like many of you, it was a crazy day in my house today as I ran around getting the food and festivities ready for my family (and my wife’s family). But in between washing dishes (aye even The Gaffer has to get his hands wet sometimes), I managed to watch bits and pieces of Staines Town against Stockport County in a live FA Cup match and the 1999 FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Newcastle.
Despite the criticism the network receives, Fox Soccer Channel’s choice of reruns often seem very timely. Prior to the Israel against Russia match last Saturday, Fox showed the 1979 match between England and Scotland at the old Wembley Stadium. It was my first time to see the game on TV since the first time I saw it live in the summer of 79 on British television.
The Thanksgiving Day treat of Man United against Newcastle was timely especially seeing Steve McClaren on telly as the assistant manager of Man United. He looked happy, content and full of hope. Quite a contrast to his demeanor from yesterday’s defeat against Croatia.
The biggest treat of Thanksgiving Day for me was seeing non-league Staines Town beat Stockport County on penalty kicks (after extra time). The quaint ground was packed with fans. Just a small band of them were crammed behind the goal lines, but you could tell they were all swept up with the passion and enthusiasm of the FA Cup and seeing a Football League club come to town as well as the Sky Sports cameras there for the live TV broadcast.
That was the other thing that was so special about the FA Cup broadcast. Because the FSC announcers were taking Thanksgiving Day off, I’m sure just a skeleton crew were at the Fox studios running the network. That meant that we were able to see the Sky Sports coverage of the match uninterrupted including the pre- and post-shows as well as half-time. And what a pleasure it was to have someone as experienced as Martin Tyler commentating the match.