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The Carabao Cup Final

In the great, over-stuffed pantheon of things I know nothing about, football looms large. It’s a subject on which I’m not even casually conversant, I’m less well-informed than your average six-year-old. It’s only two years since I was stunned to learn that Aston Villa wasn’t a London team.

And yet, I know that the Carabao Cup Final is this afternoon.

I couldn’t explain what the Carabao Cup is, nor pick it out of a line-up, nor explain why it’s named after a buffalo, but there’s still no fooling me: a big match is happening today.

I know this because I live in Newcastle, and I know of no other city where the football club and the city are so closely enmeshed. It’s partly to do with the location of the stadium right in the city centre, which means that the cheers after a goal resonate through the streets. But it’s also something that’s deep within the psyche of the city.

And so, I know it’s the Carabao Cup Final because the city is festooned with black-and-white bunting. The team’s flag has replaced the city flag outside the Civic Centre. Estate agents have turfed every property out of their window to dedicate their entire displays to supporting the club. Even a local care home has decorated their garden with black-and-white ribbons and balloons.

The talk in my office—where, incidentally, roughly 90% of the staff are female—has not been about whether anyone is making the trip to Wembley, but about who is making the trip. Jokes about silverware and absent goalkeepers are ten a penny.

Most shops and businesses in the city are closing early today to release staff to watch the match, as my friendly Caffe Nero barista had the foresight to tell me last Sunday. It’s a citywide bank holiday in all but statute.

And so: I might not be able to name a single Newcastle player and I couldn’t even tell you with certainty who the opposing team is, but I know it’s the Carabao Cup Final today. I hope Newcastle does well.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Post-a-day 2023, , .

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