Shearer, me and the FA Cup

It’s perhaps not surprising, coming from a one-club town like Newcastle, that I used to be a big football fan. My mum actually used to live up the road from St James’ Park, so I was often (quite literally) swept up in match day excitement, as crowds surged down the street towards the stadium. I gave up following the club a few years back, after a few morally questionable hiring decisions soured my affection, but they will always have a place in my heart.

A few years ago, for my mum’s birthday, we had a meal at St James’, which included in the price a tour of the club and grounds. I was at first not bothered by the prospect – I was there just to have lunch with my mum and her friends – but I decided since I would likely never get the chance again, I might as well. I’m glad I did. It was a fascinating experience seeing the grounds up close, and the facilities, and though they cheated slightly by having Shearer’s jersey in a changing room he’d likely never set foot in (they were modernised after his time), none of us complained, since we were all pretty thrilled to get a photo like this:

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My FA Cup story is a similar tale of adopted apathy giving way to actual excitement. I used to work at the BBC, and one day discovered they were letting people have their pics taken with the FA Cup in return for a donation to whichever charity they were supporting at the time (I assume maybe Sport Aid? Or Red Nose Day?). My colleagues and I all played it too cool for school (“Nah, why would any of us want that?”), only for nearly every one of us to just ‘happen’ to stroll by it on our coffee breaks and after all it’d be a shame not to and it’s for a good cause…

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