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Soup of This Day #8: OWEN! Absolutely Magnificent…And Peaches.

June 1, 2011

Peaches, are not a barrel of laughs to pick – Photo: Jack Dykinga, 1997. Jack Dykinga is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

In April of 1964 Phil Chisnall transferred from Manchester United to Liverpool for £25 000. Having scored 10 goals in 47 games for the Mancunians he would add just another 2 in 10 games for Liverpool before moving on to Southend. A statistical nobody, Chisnall is not significant for his football. What is of greater import than his sparse playing record is that he remains the last player to transfer directly between the two clubs. In just shy of 120 years of shared history just 9 players have made that trip between the 2, 5 from Liverpool and 4 from Man U. As recently as 2007 Liverpool had looked to sign Gabriel Heinze from their bitter rivals, however this was scuppered, Man U refusing to allow a quality player to head to a title threat.

That’s not to say that some players haven’t played for both clubs with other clubs in between times. That list is small but it contains some distinguished names and amongst them is Michael Owen.

Michael Owen began his career as a Liverpool player in 1996 as a 17 year old wonderkid. He was an almost instantaneous success, topping the scoring charts in his first full season in the Premiership (97/98). At the 98 World Cup in France he scored one of the most memorable goals I’ve seen, using his blistering pace and eye for goal to mark his ascension to the top of English football. That the goal came against Argentina in a quarter final was impressive enough, but the way the 18 year old took apart their defence was the stuff that legends are made of.

As a Liverpool player his greatest moment came in the 2001 FA Cup final. Liverpool had been bestd by Arsenal for much of the match and were fortunate to be just a goal down as a result of Freddie Lungbergs 72nd minute strike. On 83 minutes Owen struck with a predatory finish after Arsenal failed to clear their lines. On 88 minutes Owen scored one of the great FA Cup final goals. He latched onto a beautiful long ball from Patrick Berger down the left channel and outpacing Lee Dixon and Tony Adams slotted an inch perfect shot on the run past Arsenal and England stopper, David Seamen. In the match, played in Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium, where they were second best it was a breath-taking act of audacious larceny.

In spite of the success you always got the sense that Owen’s heart wasn’t completely with the club. He topped Liverpool’s score sheets for 8 seasons but the boyhood Evertonian from Chester was not someone the fans identified with. He was never loved by them the way that Robbie Fowler, one of his contemporaries and rivals for Liverpool’s chief marksman position, was. At the beginning of the 04/05 season, with his trademark pace fading, he was transferred to Real Madrid for £8 million. And that, as far as Liverpool were concerned was that.

Fast forward to July of 2009 and via Newcastle United Owen announced the deal with the Devil. He signed for Manchester United. He has since played 2 seasons with them, filling a bit-part role off the bench. In the season just gone he played a small part in them capturing the title, their 19th, one more than Liverpool. It was his first champions medal in 15 years as a professional but for my part I don’t really care. Mickey Owen had been part of my club and a league medal for Liverpool was what he deserved. Getting one for the enemy is a nothing so I’ll just remember the lad for that goal at Cardiff in 2001.

In the 4th season of the ridiculously good The West Wing there is a moment before the debate between the incumbent President, Josiah Bartlett (Martin Sheen) and the challenging Governor Robert Richie (James Brolin). CJ Creig (Alison Janney) is asked how she thinks the debate will go. She responds that it depends on who Bartlett shows up as, Uncle Fluffy or the President. As it turns out the President shows up and Uncle Fluffy is consigned to the dustbin, along with Ritchie.

Until today.

Because I’m pretty sure he’s playing for the Red Sox. It’s the only explanation I have for what transpired this morning. Let me run through it:

Aceves had the start. He’d been good the last 2 outings he started. He wasn’t today. He began well, getting the Sox through the 1st quickly and without damage. Phil Humber managed likewise for the White Sox and so to the 2nd. Aceves gave up 4 runs off 2 walks, 3 hits and a Lowrie error. A 5th run in the third led to the Globe demanding his return to the Bullpen before Varitek knocked a solo shot home to add to his growing personal momentum. At the top of the 6th, after hitting someone, somebody noticed that Aceves was spontaneously combusting and/or morphing into Uncle Fluffy and mercifully dragged him. Sadly not before he’d put another two on base with none out, leaving Atchison to add 4 to the score for Chicago. I didn’t see Atchison’s expression as he got the call but I’m guessing it didn’t scream ‘Man, what a great day to pitch…’

Nothing much went on until the bottom of the 8th when Papi’s 3 run shot gave hope. Sutton had already pegged on back and I thought maybe… Straws, clutching, etc. etc. 2 runs bottom of the 9th but it cost 2 outs getting there and that was that. 10-7 at the death.

So, from the last two posts and despite the one before them: I need it to rain in Boston. For a day. I need a giant elephant to travel to Fenway and I need the Presidents to show up. Not the band, I need the Martin Sheen variety of President. The band are ok, it’s just that when they had that song ‘Peaches’ I was working a job picking peaches. Peaches are not as fun as the song would make you think, that’s all I’m saying.

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