Monday, May 26, 2008

The Nearly Season

With the football season now over, and no "Home Nations" teams qualified for this summer's Euro 2008, I've decided to call 07/08 the "Nearly Season". Here's why:

Northern Ireland nearly qualified for Euro 2008. It went down to the final match against Spain to determine whether we'd qualify for our first major tournament finals since 1986. We didn't.

Scotland nearly qualified too, but were beaten in their last match.

Chelsea nearly won the European Champions League Final for the first time in their history. The score was level after extra time, and halfway through the penalty shoot out it actually looked like we'd win. Up stepped John Terry... and missed. ManUre walked away with the trophy.

Chelsea nearly won the Premiership, like Northern Ireland it went right down to the last game. We lost. ManUre are the champions again.

Chelsea nearly won the League Cup, but were beaten by Spurs in a real shock of a final.

Rangers nearly won the UEFA Cup. Yet again, it went right down to the last match where they were out-run and outclassed by Zenit St Petersburg. The last time Rangers were in a European final was the year I was born, 1972. It'll be another 36 years before they get to another one!

Rangers nearly won the Scottish Premier League. Just like Chelsea, it went right down to the last match where they were beaten by Aberdeen, handing the League to Celtic.

So, had the results of just seven matches been victories rather then defeats, this could have been officially The Greatest Football Season of All Time. However, in the end it was mostly a great anti-climax, a huge disappointment.

However, the great thing about football is that all of the clubs start again from scratch in August. Everybody gets a fresh start. Somewhere, in all of last season's effort, striving and ultimate failure - and in the knowledge of a certain fresh start just ahead - is a deep spiritual truth.

[ PS: of course England nearly qualified too, and I'm not anti-England, but it is funny that just like the rest of us they didnt make it either! ]