The FA Cup tie that could have been.
Twenty-five football matches scheduled for today have been canceled due to…snow? What? Some puffy white water falling majestically from the sky? This is particularly ironic considering the prognosticators of climate change doom predicted an all-year-round Premier League as one of the upsides to flooded capitals, widespread famine, and, inevitably, Soylent Green. Someone forgot to tell them that, in fact, global warming produces higher rates of precipitation in traditionally “wet” climes, hence this week’s blanketing, one of several “freak” occurrences in the last few years. My guess is this is just the beginning and the English will have to get used to snow days, snow jobs, snow blowers, and snow soccer.
That’s right, football in the ice and snow. Can’t be done? If he were alive today, Sir Earnest Shackleton might want to have a brandy-soaked, frost-bitten word on the matter. The crew of doomed Antarctic expedition Endurance managed to find time in their busy schedule—surviving an eighteen month shipwreck on the coldest continent on earth—to play some lovely ice football (pictured above). That same year, some boys thought nothing much of practicing free-kicks on large chunks of iceberg along the deck of RMS Titanic. Even today there’s the Scottish Premier League where players think nothing of fifty-fifty challenges on frozen earth, or the Faroe Islands where league matches are played in conditions that would down a 747.
But a little snow falls on Holloway Road and Emirates Stadium closes indefinitely.
Full disclosure now: I’m in Canada. As I write this, snow is already accumulating at a rate that would have Sean Wright-Phillips gasping for air. We may not know much of anything up here, but we do know that snow is one of life’s little variables. Sure, a routine birth on a lovely summers day is nice enough, but giving birth in the middle of an epic snowstorm? The trip to the hospital alone would be a pub story to last decades.
Same with the football. As Run of Play pointed out this week, rain makes the beautiful game a little more gorgeous. Well, imagine what fifteen centimetres of fluffy ice crystals might do for a Premier League or FA Cup tie. Top of the table “Grand Slam” match-ups would be coined “The Battle in the Blizzard;” FA Cup fifth round-winning goals improvised along the banks of a goal-side snow drift would be imitated by awed schoolboys for years. And the fans who’d drive out in the worst conditions only to stand in a freezing slush pile for ninety-minutes, half-watching their team lose in a fog of white, will have a fresh new way of distinguishing themselves from the “plastics.”
Of course there are concerns about “player safety” and “pitch integrity” and “quality of play,” and all the rest of those namby-pamby, nanny-state Blairisms. But play a little footy on the white and we’ll see who’s got some lead left in glove-wearing, Crisco-haired “modern football.”