Anyone that was betting on all the underdogs they could find this weekend as some sort of joke, will this morning be grinning from ear-to-ear. This comes after a weekend that will go down with the sports books as one of the more surprising, and it’s only the start of the year!
We shouldn’t really have been that surprised. When the English FA Cup third round and NFL Wild Card playoffs are both played on the same weekend what do you expect?! Two cities united by the letter ‘S’ were where the biggest upsets took place but matches elsewhere weren’t without their compliment of controversy.
First to the NFL playoffs, and the one match-up of the weekend that everyone thought they had sussed. The Seattle Seahawks welcomed the New Orleans Saints as they attempted to add to the fact they’re the first ever playoff team with a losing record by being the only side to win with one.
If you were sitting down to watch the match-up, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had taken a sabbatical from the sport for a few years. Seeing him throw four touchdowns might have made you check the alcohol content on the beer you’d been drinking, or whether you’d mistakenly switched over to ESPN Classic for a few hours. Truth is that the Seahawks are in the second round of the NFL playoffs.
This has nothing on some of the shenanigans in the FA Cup though.
Many moons ago, back in the days of the humble betting shop, Stevenage Borough, then of the Conference, took on Premier League giants Newcastle United and got a draw.
Saturday evening marked the latest time that they’ve been paired together in the tournament and it became the biggest upset that the competition has seen in a few years. By the end of the game the scoreline read “Stevenage Borough 3-1 Newcastle United” as the side in English football’s fourth tier had taken one of the prize scalps. To make matters worse Newcastle had Cheik Tiote dismissed for foul play. Speaking of referees, yesterday’s showpiece match between Manchester United and Liverpool had plenty of referee action.
If the tie didn’t already have some spice Liverpool showed that they aren’t living in the past whatsoever by bringing in Kenny Dalglish as interim manager until the end of the season. The tie itself was decided in the opening two minutes as Ryan Giggs converted from the penalty spot, but the controversy surrounding that decision, the remainder of the game, and shortly following the game were enough to fill a whole tabloid.
As regards the penalty, Dimitar Berbatov was likely guilty of a dive, and to compound this Steven Gerrard was sent off later on in the half for a tackle that could have broken Michael Carrick’s leg.
Following the game the latest version of Tweetgate was played out as Liverpool winger Ryan Babel uploaded a photo of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United jersey, and could be reprimanded by the FA for doing so. I wonder if anyone at the FA ever smiles?