THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Al Needham takes great delight in London's footballing failure

Sometimes it comes early in the spring, with the unfurling of fresh leaves. Sometimes it comes as late as the very cusp of summer, while the musk of the first barbecues still hangs in the air. Every year you doubt that it will come at all, and every year, without fail, it does. It's called Nottingham 2 London 0 Day, and it happens the day after the last London club has inevitably slunk out of the Champions League.

The direct inverse of England Man-Period Day (the biennial torpor the day after the national side have failed once again to do anything of note at an international tournament), N2L0 Day is a small celebration at present, but to a small-minded provincial who, according to someone on Facebook, has "an almost Alan Partridgian hatred towards London", it's of massive importance.

I love the fact that the European Cup has been in my dad's pub and all my mates' schools and all over my city during its two-year stay in Nottingham, and in Roman Abramovich's possession precisely never. I think it is one of the great quirks of world history that the greatest prize in club football has gone past my nana's house and has been held by someone like Danny Brady (who spend most of his time at school living in a hole he dug into the bank on the field), but has only used London as a stopover point every now and then while it waited to be won by a team from somewhere else. "Ha! All that money, all those players, all that media hype and you still can't win it!" I gleefully shout, once a year. To myself.

Why can't London clubs get along with the European Cup? Usually, when enough time elapses without a big club winning the major prize, people start talking about a curse, and a reason for it. The Boston Red Sox didn't win baseball's World Series for 84 years, supposedly due to them selling Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. The Chicago Cubs haven't been to the World Series since 1945, due to a goat being denied entry to the stadium. London clubs haven't won the European Cup since it first started in 1955-56, when the English representative didn't take part. Said English champions were Chelsea. Spooky, eh? Well, no, actually; it was the Football League, and Alan Hardaker in particular, who put the block on it. So let's discount a curse. There's always been a better club for them to run into, or skid on their arse in front of. In any case, Paris, Moscow, Rome and 45 other capital cities in the UEFA zone have never won it either.

It would be nice to say that the London Euro-drought was a prime example of how football still has enough of a disregard for money and power to still be able to throw up moments of serendipity. But let's be honest, this is about me and my limited expectations from modern football. I can't expect my club to do anything of substance in Europe these days, and the only pleasure I get from the Champions League is when clubs I've taken a dislike to don't win it.

It's a moral minefield, too. When we talk about "London clubs" in the second decade of the 21st century, we invariably mean Arsenal and Chelsea, who would still be thoroughly repulsive to the outsider if they were based in Mansfield or Skegness. How would I feel if, say, Fulham or QPR had a serious run at the Champions League? Would I want to deny Leyton Orient or Brentford their moment in the sun?

Put it another way, if Munto Finance had actually had some money behind them and they bought Notts County a Champions League, would I have been happy with a Nottingham 3 London 0 Day? Does someone a few miles to the west of me celebrate Birmingham 1 London 0 Day? Does a Rangers supporter look upon Celtic's 1967 triumph as a massive two fingers towards Edinburgh?

Thankfully, being a football supporter, I don't have to think too much, and have to justify my moral standpoints even less. One day, when I become Lord Mayor of Nottingham, N2L0 Day will grow to the point where my local council pay Danny Dyer, Jimmy Greaves and Ian Beale to be paraded through the Market Square in Pearly King outfits all the way to the Brian Clough statue, while our kids queue up to make masturbatory gestures at them, because London can have all the Olympics, national stadiums, jobs, money and gold paving slabs that it wants, but it's safe to say that it'll never – ever – get the European Cup.

Current odds on an Arsenal v Chelsea Champions League final are now roughly 78-1, in case you were wondering.

From WSC 296 October 2011

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