Three weeks after Valentine's Day, I talk about romance. Because today was the sixth round of the FA Cup, and I cheered as lowly Barnsley knocked out the mighty Chelsea. And the BBC pundits just will not shut up about the "romance of the cup".
In some ways, the English FA Cup is the purest meritocracy in popular sport. In complete antithesis to the closed shop of American Football franchises, in theory almost any club in England can register for the competition, and if they win enough games then they can progress to play against the giants. There are practical restrictions and exceptions, but it's basically common knowledge anyway.
It's also common knowledge that apart from the fans of the particular big club, everyone tends to root for the underdog. Today I did. But often I do not. In an earlier round, a non-league club knocked out Swansea. How romantic say the pundits. Crap. The Welsh club were bundled and hustled and kicked out. Like Liverpool vs Wimbledon in the 1988 final, sometimes the joy we should feel is more than canceled by distaste for the style of play.
But today it was just like watching Brazil.