Hearn backs Norwich City to find consolation in promotion
Barry Hearn has never by any stretch of the imagination been a man of few words – so no one was surprised when his post-match analysis included not just the sweet taste of FA Cup success but also that of Delia Smith's apple crumble and custard.
The Leyton Orient owner, who has made his name as a sports promoter and the man behind the Matchroom brand, tips not only the Norwich catering, but also Paul Lambert's team for success this season – albeit not in the world's oldest knockout competition.
'We played super,' said Hearn. 'Norwich are obviously a very good team, but we defended very well, made the most of our chances and on the balance of play the right team won. I am trying to be neutral, which is difficult, but I am only quoting the words of Delia Smith, who has been a charming host, who said we deserved every bit of our success. I am so happy there wasn't a replay – I would have had to bring in the outside caterers. The hospitality at Norwich is second to none. The food was absolutely delicious and the result tasted even better.'
So what did Hearn have that was so delicious?
'I had a very nice ribeye steak which actually melted in my mouth and can you believe it there was proper apple crumble and custard to die for.'
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Food digested, Hearn watched from the directors' box as Orient booked their place in the fourth round of a competition which, despite its detractors, still holds an allure for the man from Dagenham.
'I have watched a great Leyton Orient performance which justifies why I have spent 15 years in this stupid business they call football,' he said. 'I love the FA Cup, it's my favourite part of the year. I get all this nonsense about the FA Cup being past its sell-by date, but win or lose this is what football is all about and today was a justification for people who have been involved in the FA Cup for us and I am sure for clubs up and down the country. It is a special type of excitement – there is nothing more exciting.'
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Hearn paid for his squad to stay at Dunston Hall on Friday night, rather than travelling up by coach on the day.
'What do you expect?' he laughed. 'This is Leyton Orient, this is the team of the kings, we don't mess about. If they had lost it would be a Red Rover ticket next time – but the FA Cup is something to be celebrated.
He added: 'Norwich still look to me to be the team to back going up to the Premiership. They are a very good side.'