Colin Powell vs Colin Powell
I've just awoken in Austin having completely forgotten to set my alarm for the 7.30am Cup draw, but then again finding it out via text message certainly took away some rather undesirable tension at that time of the morning.
Given that all ten teams remaining are Premiership clubs, it was near impossible to get another 'easy draw' but home to 'Boro was on paper the 2nd best draw we could have been given (home to Birmingham was the best).
Now I have to wait on tenterhooks to find out which date the game will be played. I am due back in London anyhow on Mar 23 so if it happens to be played on the Thurs night, I will definitely be able to attend. I'm not sure how they intend to organise the dates, but it would seem sensible unfortunately to just play them in the order they came out of the hat.
However if this is not the case, and the game is organised for let's say the Weds night, then I will have a difficult dilemma. I am due to be at a conference from the Sunday until Weds lunchtime, and the keynote speaker on the Tues night is none other than Colin Powell. Admittedly my first reaction was, "Why on earth would a load of hedge fund types be interested in hearing from our former winger and current groundsman?" I pictured myself listening intently to Paddy talk about The Big Match 'goal of the season' when he delivered the cross for Derek Hales, whilst the rest of the room asked, "Who the hell is this guy?"
However I then read the small-print - it was the other Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State, and despite being part of the Bush administration, a rather good one too and therein lies the dilemma. It's not every day you get the chance to hear the private views of such a prominent politician who has served during such tumultuous times. I'm sure the topics discussed will range from the lead-up to the Iraq war, to Iran's uranium enrichment programme and to the true threat from Al-Qaeda, all vital issues which will shape the future for the world.
It's probably a sign of my own maturity when I don't even consider the prospect of trying to fly back to London a day early to watch a football match in such circumstances. Unfortunately however, on prior occasions when I faced similar dilemmas, I always justify my decision based upon the result which ironically has always been positive. I'm not particularly superstitious but I may begin to become so.
There was the time when my girlfriend's mother (now my mother-in-law) told me she was organising a surprise birthday for her daughter on the same afternoon we entertained Middlesbrough in Jan 1998 (our promotion season). My suggestion that my absence would ensure a 'double surprise' was met with the type of icy stare only a future mother-in-law could give. We won 3-0, thanks in part to a cracking opener from Shaun Newton, fully justifying my decision.
More recently there was a wedding ceremony in Feb 1999 which sadly for the happy couple clashed with a home game with Liverpool, Keith Jones backing up my decision that afternoon with a timely late winner. (I have since been assured that the bride looked a delight, and the vicar's sermon was very moving).
And so back to Colin Powell. Will it be the 'lead-up to the Iraq war' or the 'lead-up to the big game'? Will it be 'Iran's nuclear programme' or the 'official matchday programme'? Will it be 'the threat from Al-Qaeda' or 'the threat from Yakubu'? Will it be 'Colin Powell's well-prepared pitch' or 'Colin Powell's well-prepared pitch'? I will keep you informed.