Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Great Climax to a Mediocre Season; Plenty of Excitement on the Final Day

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Great Climax to a Mediocre Season; Plenty of Excitement on the Final Day

Article excerpt

THE Champions League final and Football League play-offs will have to be something special to top 'Survival Sunday' for excitement.

I don't think it's been a great season for many reasons, but last weekend's Premier League climax was special.

Despite all of the bad things that blight our national game, Survival Sunday endorses why, warts and all, there really is nothing to compare with the sport that grips our lives.

I am not so sure I would have enjoyed it quite so much had Boro have been one of the five teams locked in a fascinating, enthralling afternoon.

It was sporting magic, the twists the turns, games mainly played in a good spirit without, for once, bad sportsmanship, bickering and foul language.

Barcelona's Champions League clash with Manchester United at Wembley tomorrow could be a classic.

But, if we get a repeat of Barca's semi-final against Real Madrid, the occasion could also be ruined by play acting and constant remonstrations with the match officials.

Monday's Championship play-off final at the same venue sees Swansea City take on form-team Reading.

Despite the tension of such a potentially heartbreaking day, play-off finals can often turn out to be high-scoring classics.

It already seems ages since Boro signed off in style with a home win over Doncaster.

Since then we've had the lunacy of playing the FA Cup final before the end of the Premier League season, indeed on the same day as crucial top flight fixtures All because UEFA dictated that the Champions League final venue Wembley had to be 'clean' for 14 days before kick-off.

You could argue that the game with the most money riding on it - the play-off final - is to be played less than 48 hours after the Champions League showdown.

Even more barmy are the ridiculously extortionate ticket prices that Manchester United and Barcelona fans have had to pay.

You could go abroad for a week for less than they are charging for a pair of tickets for the game.

But nothing in football surprises me anymore.

This season has once again seen the image of the already tarnished national sport dragged through the gutters and splashed on the front pages time and time again.

As we speak, an injunction involving a high-profile superstar has dominated the media this week.

The FA has abstained from voting for the presidency of FIFA. That really is going to help future attempts to secure a major tournament isn't it? The game is riddled with inconsistencies in the way clubs, managers and players are punished.

Rooney escaped a ban for an off the ball elbow when others would have surely been banned.

He then suffered for a foul mouthed rant into a TV camera when others are seen screaming abuse at referees every week and escape punishment.

They say referees lack consistency but is it any wonder with the example set by their peers. …

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