LET me start this week’s column by making it clear that no one would be happier than yours truly should Barnsley tomorrow put a halt to Manchester City’s bid for a second FA Cup triumph in three seasons.
Sadly, however, I can envisage nothing of the sort. Not after having seen the steely-eyed determination of Roberto Mancini’s City up close in the last round as they made such short thrift of Leeds United that the game was effectively over inside 15 minutes.
The Blues had gone into the fifth-round tie on the back of a shockingly poor result – a 3-1 defeat at Southampton – that had all but ended any hopes of retaining the Premier League title won in such dramatic circumstances last May.
But the tempo with which City began against Leeds, together with the FA Cup being the only trophy realistically left for Mancini to win this season, suggests to me that, come tomorrow night, Barnsley will be left with just a fight against relegation on which to concentrate in the final two months of the season.
And if that does prove the case then the curtain will have come down on another campaign of Cup football for Yorkshire. One that, unlike some years, has been one to savour.
Bradford City, of course, have been the big story of 2012-13 with their amazing run to the League Cup final attracting headlines around the world.
I discovered this much while on holiday in Australia, with footage of the 3-1 semi-final triumph over Aston Villa leading the various sports bulletins across all Australia’s major channels for the rest of the day.
The tone in the voices of the sports presenters suggested they found the fairytale of a fourth-tier team claiming another Premier League scalp as unbelievable as the rest of us and underlined, to me, just what an amazing feat Bradford achieved in a season that saw Phil Parkinson’s men play 15 Cup ties. Seven went to extra-time and four to penalties.
It is why City are Yorkshire’s undisputed ‘Cup Kings’ of 2012-13. Others, though, deserve mentioning in dispatches with Leeds aping their West Yorkshire neighbours in claiming three top-flight scalps.
Beating a second-string Southampton side may not have been too spectacular, but the wins over Everton and Spurs certainly were, especially considering that both David Moyes and Andre Villas-Boas put out strong sides at Elland Road.
Sheffield Wednesday’s excellent 1-0 triumph over Fulham in late August completes the White Rose’s hit list of Premier League teams, but there have been plenty of other notable triumphs for the county to savour.
An injury-ravaged Huddersfield knocking Leicester City out of the FA Cup fourth round at the KP Stadium, for instance, or Barnsley’s fully deserved 1-0 win at Hull.
The Tigers also came unstuck against White Rose opposition in the League Cup courtesy of a 3-2 defeat at Doncaster, a result made all the more impressive by the League One team having been 2-0 down just 10 minutes into the tie.
Harrogate Town also deserve a mention for their tremendous 1-0 win at Torquay United and the heart-breaking manner in which a third-round trip to Middlesbrough was snatched from their grasp via a penalty shoot-out defeat to Hastings United.
As heartening as all these Cup heroics were, however, there simply is no getting away from the fact this season’s Cup success belongs to Bradford City.
Unless, of course, Barnsley can prove yours truly wrong by overcoming all the odds tomorrow night to book a second FA Cup semi-final trip to Wembley in five years.