THE BLACK SWAN
Printed in the FA Trophy Preliminary Qualifying round v Mangotsfield
United Sunday 4th October 2009. 1-1 draw in front of 241.
I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘The Black Swan’. It’s about
events or inventions that change the world that no one could have
predicted. The term Black Swan comes from the 17th century European
assumption that 'All swans are white'. So a black swan was a symbol
for something that was impossible or could not exist – until black
swans were ‘discovered’ in Western Australia! For Black Swans think of
the rise of the Internet, the personal computer, World War I and the
September 11th attacks. Infact the books author Nassim Nicholas Taleb
regards almost all major scientific discoveries, historical events,
and artistic accomplishments as "black swans". So while economists,
bankers, social scientists and newspaper columnists try to predict the
future, it is inevitably wrong, as there are so many variables and
unknown unknowns that throw our predictions off course.
I doubt Taleb would bother attaching his theory to football, but I
hope that one day a Black Swan event destroys the predictability of
the Premiership, such as a meteor hitting Stamford Bridge! But I
reckon there are many Black Swan football moments. Take Exeter City
drawing Manchester United in the FA Cup. The club had started to
rebuild after spoon bender and all round plonker Uri Geller took the
club to the brink. But they never could have forecast getting Man
United in the cup – let alone drawing there and taking them back to St
James Park for a replay. The cash completely cleared their debts and
now they are in Division One. As for Slough’s Black Swan moment. Well
what would have happened if we had beat Yeading in the FA Cup and
played Newcastle United at ‘home’?
I saw Mangotsfield watch their Black Swan footie moment slip away a
few years back. After a Friday night party in Bristol a few of us
decided to catch their FA Cup 4th qualifying match at home to Lewes.
The village of Mangotsfield felt like another suburb of sprawling
Bristol and the game ended in stalemate. I managed to get myself a
space on the Lewes supporters coach, but before it left everyone
pilled into ‘the Mango’s’ clubhouse to watch the draw for the next
round; the cheers were loud as the winners would play Stoke City.
Quite a few of us went to the replay, kick off was delayed because of
the crowds and Lewes won. They eventually lost to Stoke 2-0, but it
really put the club on the map, the cup money helped them build an
impressive stand and they picked up a terrace load of new supporters.
Maybe there are Mangotsfield fans wondering ‘with if’ it was they who
had played Stoke. Would they now be playing at the same level as
Slough or would they have reached the Conference like Lewes?
It’s harder for a Black Swan footie moments to happen in the Trophy,
but a good cup run wouldn’t go amiss. The extra cash would keep the
Slough Town finances ticking over and well, it’s only eight rounds
before we reach the semi finals! Slough Town playing at Wembley in a
Cup Final would be something no one would have predicted at the
beginning of the season, but we have done it before!