Belfast Telegraph

Yes, sometimes football really can be a beautiful game

By Gail Walker

Cue 'minnows', cue 'giant-killing', cue 'sent crashing out of the cup' ...

It's not often that Association Football features in this column. It's still very much a boys' thing - all that flicking wet towels in the shower. And we girls usually see enough men dribbling in every day life without having to pay at turnstiles or Sky TV for the privilege.

But every now and again the sport manages to engage the attention of the rest of us - usually through spectacularly attractive and talented individuals (like Messrs Best and Beckham) - and also on those rare occasions when it lives up to its billing as a game filled with romance as opposed to just 'bromance'.

Happily - at least for those not linked with Glentoran FC - true romance rushed back in to local football at the weekend when tiny Amateur League side Newington Youth Club dumped the mighty Glens out of the Irish Cup by beating them 1-0 in the fifth round of the tournament and in their own back yard to boot. It was a victory completely unexpected. What should have been nothing more than a good day out for the north Belfast amateurs, a day and game of interest to none but themselves and their families, turned into an epic rout which has already gone into legend.

Of course, once the unthinkable has taken place, a little research shows it not to have been completely unlikely after all. Newington are no mugs. The facts of the club's rise since it was founded in 1979, winning its first trophy in 1986 and being Amateur League champions for the third successive year, might have given the Glens pause for thought before kick-off. But - as the men in mufflers on the terraces might say - 'too late nigh'.

The sight of grown adults peeling off their shirts and running about the Oval like wee boys will haunt the Glens for years to come. Manager Scott Young has already quit.

Newington manager Eamon McCarthy was more than magnanimous in victory, but he also recognised his own side's dedication to training in rain, hail and snow for little or no reward. Until the Oval, that is. That was payback big time.

And no one - other than the most sullen, diehard Glensman a few desks along in this office - would begrudge them that.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph