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Soup of This Day #125: And The Vision That Was Planted In My Brain

January 19, 2012

Union Street Market, Aberdeen
Union Street Markets in Aberdeen. There’ll be a butcher there somewhere – Photo: Richard Slessor, 2006. Richard Slessor is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

The 15th of April this year, 2012, will mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

Many ships have been lost since the unsinkable liner defied her engineer’s boasts and ended up roughly 4km below the waterline – Just this Friday past (the 13th of January, 2012) another cruise liner has met a watery and tragic fate, albeit without the scale of death that marked an iceberg in the mid-Atlantic all those years ago. With today’s media stretching across the Web, supplementing more traditional outlets, a fair chunk of the world knew about the Costa Concordia and it’s capsizing within hours of the incident occurring, if not minutes. Such is the breadth of information available in this Internet Age we now have full access to the transcripts of a conversation between the Italian Coast Guard and the captain of the doomed ship as the rescue effort was under way, and this was available to anyone, less than 5 days past the sinking.

Even without the Net, in 1912 the news wasn’t much slower – Most news publications in the US and Europe had the story on the streets on the 16th of April and they were surprisingly accurate: The New York Times suggested that 866 had been saved and that ‘probably 1250 perish.’ – Which, give or take, was within the realms of the actual figures: 711 survived and 1514 died. Almost 100 years later the death toll in the Mediterranean from the Costa Concordia was initially forecast at 3 confirmed with 70 missing. As of today 11 have been confirmed dead and 21 are still missing. News in disasters can clearly be confusing.

It can also be projected through a coloured lens. There is a famous, probably apocryphal, headline purportedly published by 1 Scottish newspaper in the days after the Titanic went down:

‘Aberdeenshire Man Drowns At Sea
He Was A Butcher In Union Street’

Which may be strictly true, yet it’s not quite the whole story.

Wednesday 11th January, 2012 and in the 1st leg of a League Cup semi-final Liverpool FC edged Manchester City, 1-0 at City’s Eastlands ground. With the return leg scheduled for January 25th at Anfield the Merseysiders are in pole position to make it through to a Cup Final at Wembley on February 25. Although the League Cup is the lesser of the 3 major trophies up for grabs each English football season, it is still something of a triumph to book a Cup Final of any flavour at the iconic Wembley Stadium. And in this case it’s something even more special again as some news outlets were reporting the next day that, if successful in leg 2, it will be Liverpool’s 1st Final at Wembley for 16 years.

From the UK’s Daily Mail:

‘Liverpool are 90 minutes away from ending a 16-year absence from Wembley after Steven Gerrard fired them to a shock victory against Manchester City.’

Which may be strictly true, yet it’s not quite the whole story.

Liverpool FC have not had occasion to play at Wembley for 16 years, their last appearance being a 1996 FA Cup Final against Manchester United. They lost that day so we could further stretch the statistic to read that Liverpool FC hasn’t won at Wembley since 1992, when they beat Sunderland FC 2-0 in another FA Cup Final. Those bare statistics omit a couple of mitigating facts, principally that Wembley Stadium was knocked down in 2003 and in preparation play at the famous venue had been halted in late 2000. A new venue, sometimes called the ‘new’ Wembley to distinguish it from the 1923 Wembley, was opened on the site in 2007. For those 7 or so years, the Cup Finals that had been traditionally held at Wembley were played at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

The 1st such Cardiff Final was the 2001 League Cup in which Liverpool FC rolled Birmingham City in extra time. There followed the 2001 FA Cup Final, the 1st FA Cup in the Millennium Stadium, which Liverpool won 2-1 over Arsenal. They also won the last FA Cup Final in the Millennium Stadium, edging West Ham in a penalty shoot-out in 2006. Liverpool FC also won the 2 Community Shield matches subsequent to those 2 Cups (Played between the FA Cup winners and the League Champions). They also played in 2 further League Cup Finals, defeating Manchester United 2-0 in 2003 and then losing 3-2 to Chelsea in 2005.

So all-in-all their last Cup Final was in 2006 and during the alleged ’16 year drought’ they have played in 7 Cup Finals, winning 6 of them. True, they have yet to notch up a Cup Final in the ‘new’ Wembley but that amounts to just 14 missed opportunities across the past 5 years.

At this point I should point out that The Times reported Liverpool as being, ‘…within touching distance of a first domestic final for six years.’

Which is strictly true and actually is pretty much the full story.

A further news item caught my eye in the same way yesterday morning. The headline, buried somewhat on the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) website, read:

‘Senna’s Nephew to Drive in Formula 1.’

Again, that’s true, but it fails to point out that Bruno Senna, who is the nephew of the late, great Aryton Senna, has actually driven in Formula 1 for 2 teams across the past 2 seasons. He has now signed for Williams in 2012 having racked up 26 races with Hispania Racing and Renault across 2010 and 2011. This is a significant signing to be sure, as Bruno’s legendary uncle was driving for Williams when he was killed in 1997. Fortunately the ABC story attached to the headline clarified this and to their credit after a short period of time the headline was altered to:

‘Williams sign Senna.’

I’m hoping that sports journalism doesn’t have the same constraints placed upon it as the reporting of a disaster, such as a cruise liner sinking. As well as a little less fog clouding events there are also many more tools available to journos now than there would have been in 1912. There’s the Internet for starters and that’s where a fair old chunk of my facts are derived from. I had an extra advantage in writing this. I’ve watched all of those football matches and I’ve seen young Senna hurtling around racetracks so I ‘know’ that these things happened. I guess what I’m wondering is why the paid journos/editors did not get this stuff right too?

Disclosure time: I’m not a journo. Never have been. Didn’t study to be a journo and have actually never been paid so much as a dollar for my writing – I get my income (a decent 1 too) from a different day job.

I did once win a $10 voucher in a poetry contest, redeemable at the Whale Rock Café in Albany, down on the South Coast of Western Australia. I don’t think this counts though as I was just 5 at the time and a big kid helped me write the poem. Don’t go thinking that that sounds shady because it wasn’t – The competition involved little tackers, such as myself, being paired up with older partners who in truth did most, if not all, of the work. Thank you Sheryl.

So I’m not a newsman. Don’t mistake my comments for jealousy though – I have no desire to be a journo – I’m happy just writing for me and the dozen or so others who will read this post. In a sense then you might be thinking that I’m being a lazy armchair critic, maybe even you’ll think I’m being a bit picky – After all these are minor details we’re chewing over here – The truth hasn’t been obliterated, just misrepresented slightly.

The thing is, this is a sports blog and sports are made up of picky details. You only need to look at Baseball Reference or Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack to see how important the details are.

A final conclusion and this 1 has almost 100 years of supporting information behind it, including some rather recent data:

Maybe hold off on the cruise-ship thing for a bit. Particularly if you’re a butcher from Aberdeen. Just a suggestion.

And The Vision That Was Planted In My Brain

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