The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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Thrilling FA Cup Action for Everyone Who Sort of Regrets the Discovery of Electricity

A key that has not yet entered a lock.

Portsmouth have beaten West Brom 1-0 to reach their first FA Cup final since 1939. I had planned to write a detailed match summary, but I think a minute-by-minute report might be a better way to relate the experience of watching football from a far-off country in this internet age…

10 minutes before the scheduled start time — [Fires up streaming software.]

5′ — Buffering 12 sec.

9′ — Buffering 23 sec.

14′ — Vague flickers of movement. The voices of the commentators jump up out of undifferentiated crowd noise, then drop back into it again, like a dolphin frolicking in the sea.

19′ — Albrechtsen takes a smack from Kanou as they compete for the ball in the air. Kanou twists and…amazingly freezes in place, apparently having stopped time with his mind.

23′ — The impressive Hoefkens cuts in from the right and slots the ball in towards Gera. Yeah, but I copied that from the Guardian MBM report, which I have turned to in frustration after spending the last three minutes watching Harry Redknapp do a credible impersonation of a strobe light.

37′ — The voices of the commentators briefly surface, then are sucked down into the roar of the crowd, like Ahab at the end of Moby-Dick.

42′ — I like your metaphor, Scott Murray of the Guardian, but you should know that if Harry Redknapp were a jazz musician, he’d be Tootie Heath.

44′ — [Watches Arsenal-Liverpool in frustration.]

Of course, Deadspin’s preview of the match includes a mention of “West Bromfield Albion,” so be grateful for what you have, I guess is what I’m saying.

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Thrilling FA Cup Action for Everyone Who Sort of Regrets the Discovery of Electricity

by Brian Phillips · April 5, 2008

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