Can I use the great advertising power of my blog to urge people to go out and buy the second issue of Black Meringue, the alternative wedding magazine? Yes, even if you're not getting married, because there's a very entertaining article by my brother in it. I should really have made a similar advertisement when the previous issue came out, since he also wrote stuff for that, but I didn't, and now it's much too late. But go and read it and see that insanity does indeed run in families.
Meanwhile, the FA Cup this year seems determined to call on all the trivia I know about the competition. As you'll recall, I memorised the results of all the finals for our university demos, and also lots of little snippets of interesting information so that I can make recalling them more entertaining for everyone. And now everyone's getting in on the act, looking up all the when-was-the-last-time-this-happened statistics that the mad semi-final lineup this year demands.
So before they're in all the newspapers tomorrow, let me impress you with the facts that Barnsley, Cardiff and Portsmouth have each won the cup only once in the competition's long history - in 1912, 1927 and 1939 respectively. And they had all been runners-up before that, in Barnsley's and Cardiff's cases two years before winning the trophy, whereas Portsmouth were beaten finalists in 1929 and 1934. And having won the Cup for the first and only time, none of them ever reached the final again. West Brom, unfortunately, refuse to conform to this interesting statistic, since they were a major force in the early days of professional football and have won the cup lots of times. The last one was in 1968, though.
Furthermore, the last time the Cup was not won by one of the Big Four was in 1995 (Everton 1, Man Utd 0). The last time none of the Big Four made it to the final was in 1991 (Spurs 2, Nottingham Forest 1). The last time none of the Big Four made it to the semi-finals was in 1987 (Coventry, Spurs, Watford and Leeds - not as weird a lineup then as it would be today, because all but Leeds were top-division teams back then).
The last team from outside the top division to win the Cup was West Ham in 1980. There has never yet been a final between two non-top-flight teams. The last time three non-top-flight teams made the semis was exactly a hundred years ago, in 1908. When Barnsley won the Cup in 1912, they were in the second level of league football, and the club they beat in the final was West Brom. All these things I knew before it was cool to know them.