The Magic of The FA Cup

Written just before the 2011/2012 FA cup final

FA Cup

When I was a kid the FA cup final day was an event. A whole day spent in front of the telly flicking between Grandstand and World of Sport. Sadly those two institutions are no longer with us. Nor is the magic of the FA cup. We’d see the players eat their breakfast, compete in a special of A Question Of Sport and one year even appear on TISWAS. Then it would be lunchtime and the players would get on the coaches and we’d be treated to the comedy genius of Stan Boardman (when Liverpool were in the final).

A helicopter would follow both coaches along the motorway and on to wembley way and we’d see the teams make their FA cup song. Oh how we sung those cheesy tunes. The game would kick off and it wouldn’t matter who won (except in 1978) as the only thing that mattered was we were watching football. On the telly! Yes that’s right we got excited about a game of football on our TV’s. One game a season is all we got to see back in those days. So where did it all go wrong? Why has the magic gone from what used to be the greatest football competition in the world? Ask that question to the man in the street and the most common answer will be Man Utd pulling out in 1999.

As European cup holders they had qualified for FIFA’s inaugural world club championship which clashed with the 3rd round of the FA cup. At the time the English FA were hoping to win the rights to stage the 2006 world cup so didn’t want to rile FIFA by not having a representative in their big major new tournament so persuaded Man Utd to go and allowed them to pull out of the FA cup. In the 12 seasons since then the cup has been devalued as the big premiership clubs will field reserve sides up to the quarter final stages and all see it as a a necessary nuisance rather than a must play event. Before we all blame Man Utd and the English FA too much let me take you back to October 2nd 1983

Nottingham Forest played Tottenham Hotspurs. This was the first ever live league game shown on TV. It was a slow start with maybe 4 or 5 games a season but now it’s every single bloody day. Next seasons (2012/2013) premier league football TV rights deal has just been announced. 158 premier games on the telly. That doesn’t include all the championship, league 1 and league 2 football along with what’s left of Scottish football, Spanish shite and even meaningless cup games from the Irish league.

Too much

Far too much football. It’s on every single day. Sometimes twice a day and god forbid even 3 times a day. That is why the FA cup no longer has any magic. It’s no longer the only game we get to see each season. I watched every single FA cup final from 1977 right up to 1990. I missed the 91 final due to work but I then watched all from 92 to 2000

As a kid these games would be watched from the comfort of my living room but when I was old enough to buy beer it was all round a mates house. A sweepstake and several cans. This doesn’t happen any more. This season for me sees the final nail. The FA cup final always used to the final game of the season with a 3pm kick off. Now it’s tucked away on a normal week of league fixtures at 5:15pm

Good bye to the FA Cup. Our once great cup……