Something incredible just happened. We watched a local team (Crawley Town) lose and we couldn’t be happier.
This is an oddity on many levels, not least of which is that we willingly watched a soccer match. Outside of the World Cup US v UK I don’t think we’ve ever turned on the telly to watch 90 minutes of men in baggy shorts chasing after a ball. Add to that the fact that we were satisfied with the final score (Crawley lost 1:nil) and you have to agree it was a fairly unusual day.
Unusual also for Crawley town football club, who found themselves playing, on national television, against Manchester United.
Now, I can’t claim to know much about soccer—other than the point is to kick the ball into your opponent’s net more than they kick it into yours—and I know even less about the league structure, but somehow, through the strange workings of the playoff structure, a local team was matched up with a world-class soccer club.
This could never happen in America. Imagine the Albany Diamond dogs (What? They folded eight years ago? Never mind, stay with me.) suddenly being tagged to play the New York Yankees. How exciting would that be for the players, the fans, the club management and, well, everyone except maybe the Yankees.
This is how it was over here: the Crawley team got to travel to Manchester’s Old Trafford Stadium; the club gets half the gate, so they made millions in the deal; the players got to show their stuff on national TV and maybe catch the eye of a big time scout, Manchester, knowing they couldn’t be beat, had the opportunity to rest their A team for (let’s face it) more challenging opponents and let their B (or C or D) team have a go; ten thousand Crawley fans travelled to Manchester to watch and I am certain many of them will declare that to be the best day of their lives; Sussex was able to feel, for a day, just a bit more special.
That, in my book, is a win, win, win, win situation, and you don’t get many of those. Additionally, Crawley held their own and allowed only a single goal. Zero to one is a perfectly respectable score under those circumstances, as opposed to the very real possibility of 7 nil or some other, equally embarrassing number.
It’s over now, but I think the event gave, at least this part of Britain, a better boost than the Royal Wedding will.