Monday, January 9, 2012
Di Canio: The Movie, Leeds vs legend
Welcome to a special FA Cup edition of The Trawler, bringing you a smattering of the best storylines emerging from the weekend's third round action involving teams from the Championship, League One and League Two, plus a dose of your usual league fare for good measure.
Nobody puts Di Canio in the corner
Last week The Trawler, handed Paolo Di Canio his very own corner of this weekly romp, but the Swindon manager wasn't satisfied. He proceeded to don a stylish coat and lead his League Two outfit to a notable FA Cup upset against Premier League side Wigan, before auditioning for a part as 'Coach Paolo' in the Disney movie sure to follow in 2013.
"It is the best moment of my life," Di Canio said, as an uplifting soundtrack by Elton John accompanied a hazy montage of Swindon's 2-1 win. "Today they did show the dream can come true ... This is something special - an amazing performance against a team three divisions above us. The players have been fantastic because to play under me is difficult."
Di Canio took the best bits of Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday, and Emilio Estevez in Mighty Ducks - and made them his own. "My lads today deserve something from the club - to do something and put their names in the stadium forever," he said, as his voice began to crack. "I don't want a big statue. Maybe just a small plaque with all their names."
For all we know, Di Canio may still be giving that press conference now. If he is, you owe it to yourselves to make the trip to the renamed "Paolo Di Canio Amphitheatre of Emotion" (formerly the County Ground), take a seat in the "Di Canio Quote Factory" (the press room), then embark on a teary-eyed stroll around the Paul Benson and Alan Connell stands (both scored goals against Wigan), before sitting down for lunch in the "Swindon 2-1 Wigan celebratory suite".
Return of the Macc
There's no doubt who scored the best goal of the third round. Arnaud Mendy's stunning volley for League Two outfit Macclesfield will take some beating this season, and it very nearly did for Bolton at Moss Rose too. It was certainly more enjoyable than Mendy's last headline-making act - contracting a tropical disease on duty with the Togo national team.
It took a late David Wheater header to force a replay at The Reebok, and Macclesfield manager Gary Simpson dedicated his team's performance to two men who are sadly no longer with us. The tie marked the first anniversary of midfielder Richard Butcher's death from a heart condition, and also evoked memories of late former manager Keith Alexander, who passed away in March 2010.
"Butch and the gaffer were a big part of this football club," Simpson said. "It was a fitting way the lads went out and performed. Nobody would have been more proud of them than the gaffer and Butch."
Leeds against the legend
On Monday night, Championship Leeds travel south to face the might of Arsenal and the return of the mythical creature they call Thierry Henry - a player so legendary he will play in a stadium adorned by his very own bronze stature on the concourse outside. Has that ever happened before?
"Thierry is one of the Premier League's all-time greats, there is no doubt about that," said Leeds defender Leigh Bromby. "And he will be desperately keen to make a fresh impact. I don't think it's a gamble bringing him back - he remains a class act. And, if you give him even the sniff of a chance in front of goal, he will punish you."
Arsenal fans should be aware that only Portsmouth have committed more fouls than Leeds in the Championship this season. No club have received more red cards (five) either. Let's hope Henry has his dancing shoes on.
The Beast of Wrexham
Non-league Wrexham had Adrian Cieslewicz to thank for the emphatic equaliser than earned them a replay against Championship Brighton, but it was their giant striker Mark Creighton who grabbed the headlines.
Wrexham fans affectionately call 6' 4" Creighton "the beast", and he's ready to embrace his moniker fully if they see past Brighton in Wales and book a fourth round tie with Newcastle. "I did say if we won today I'd get it tattooed on me somewhere, as I like a tattoo," he said. "If we win the replay, I might have it done on my forehead if I score the winner."
Please score the winner.
It's impossible to keep Jordan Rhodes away from The Trawler. The Huddersfield striker scored five against Wycombe in League One on Friday night - collecting his fifth hat-trick of the season, and taking his overall tally to 27 goals.
The 21-year-old's latest goal binge was apparently watched by eight Premier League scouts, who may or may not have included representatives from Tottenham, Newcastle, Aston Villa and Everton. We already know of interest from Manchester United and Liverpool, while Championship West Ham are also being mentioned in dispatches (can't see that one happening Hammers fans).