Would you Adam ‘n’ Eve it? Something rather worrying is happening this season if you happen to be a Cockney football fan.
For so long our politicians have bemoaned the so-called ‘north/south divide’. That’s the economic phenomenon which explains how England is effectively split into two camps in terms of wealth and power.
Well, it’s arrived in football now but in a manifestly different form, and while Westminster holds all the country’s money, the power base in our national sport is on its way up the M1.
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Look away now if you’re a squeamish southern softie.
We all know that Manchester City have had the Premier League in a stranglehold for the past decade. Their third successive title underlines that.
But look around Londoners, while you have been sleeping on the gold-encrusted streets of the capital, a silent shift has been going on around you.
On June 3 the FA Cup final will be played at Wembley. It will be a Manchester derby with City and United battling it out for the oldest cup competition in the world.
Back in February, Manchester United successfully overcame the challenge from our most northerly top flight team, a resurgent Newcastle United. At Wembley.
A fabulous football weekend now awaits with the Play-Off finals. On Monday it’s a Yorkshire derby between Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley. At Wembley. On Sunday it’s League Two and Carlisle United play Stockport County. At Wembley.
The nearest we get to a team from the Big Smoke winning any domestic trophy this year is bloody Luton Town when they take on Coventry City in the Championship Play-Off Final. At Wembley.
Luton is 35 miles from Charing Cross - the official marker point for the centre of London. It is well ensconced in Bedfordshire.
Do not believe any of that bull about the ‘London Luton’ bit that goes with the airport. That’s done to con unwitting tourists flying in from abroad that as soon as they step out of the terminal they can see Nelson’s Column.
Not one football fan will be travelling north to see their team play a major final at Wembley this season.
For all the five Wembley finals contesting major cups or promotions it means that thousands of fans of all those teams must travel a combined 1,855 miles to reach the famous arch. And then go back again.
More than 3,700 miles in round trips to the frozen north, where there aren’t even any trains if you’re to believe the news.
The best London has been able to offer is Arsenal finishing second. In other words, choking at the last minute to confirm just what northerners think of us in the first place.
Of course, the serious point to all this is that should this trend continue into the long term and the gravy train in football keeps chugging north then surely the case grows for a national stadium to be built in the Midlands at the very least?
A large chunk of those supporter journeys to Wembley in north west London will be taken by road.
Our motorways already resemble London’s Victorian sewers choked with solidified cooking fat. Investing in a marvellous new national arena in Birmingham makes total sense.
For, what is even more depressing for southern-based football fanatics is when it comes to looking around and finding anyone who can release the grip of the northern clubs at the top end of the game.
Arsenal were the only London club to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season. Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are a mess, West Ham United might manage a cup run once every few years. And, er, that’s it.
Millwall finished eighth in the Championship. The best-placed London side from outside the best 20 in the Premier League. Their neighbours Charlton Athletic ended up 10th in League One.
So let’s raise a glass for little Leyton Orient, living in the shadow of West Ham’s immense 60,000-capacity Stratford home, they topped League Two and will be the only team from Cockney Land to actually win a domestic trophy this season.
As Dick van Dyke would say in Mary Poppins: “Cor blimey Guv’nor.”
London football is in a right ol’ two and eight. Look it up.
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