Rather than being the most historic cup competition in the world, England’s FA Cup is a contest that most teams have no desire to win – here are 4 reasons why
Conventional wisdom holds that the FA Cup weekend is the most “romantic” date on the English football calendar.
Conventional wisdom is, to borrow again from the words of Mister Roy Keane, “bollocks, really.”
Here’s the Cricket Soccer guide on what to look out for over the next four days:
1) QUESTIONABLE USE OF THE WORD “ROMANTIC”
The “r” word is used to describe third round day every single year, even though it has absolutely no relevance to what is essentially the early stages of a football tournament.
Here’s a tip. If you’re lucky enough to be on a first date this weekend, don’t take the lucky girl or guy to Woking v Watford. Forget Shrewsbury v Stoke and at all costs avoid Burnley v Barnsley. In fact avoid both Burnley and Barnsley at all times.
NB: Also applies to second dates, third dates and most marriages.
2) BINGO CARDS READY …
The FA Cup recycles its greatest hits with a frequency even Frank Sinatra would have baulked at. It doesn’t just trot out the same clips every season. It does it for every single round.
Pass the time by drawing up a few bingo cards and look out for all, or any of the following examples.
– Single policeman on a white horse struggling to control reported crowd of seven million at Wembley in the 1920s.
– Ronnie Radford scoring for Hereford v Newcastle 1972, an era when scoring against Newcastle still had a novelty value.
– Multiple Retro-Twitter accounts showing this clip of Vinnie Jones welcoming Steve McMahon to the 1988 final.
– A topless Ryan Giggs.
– Someone telling you “of course the Stanley Matthews final in 1604 wasn’t really the Stanley Matthews final, because actually Stan Mortensen scored a hat-trick…”
– Grainy VHS footage of non-league side, probably Sutton, knocking out a team you can’t actually believe used to be in the top flight (Coventry).
– Ossie Ardiles saying the word “Tott-ing-ham” in a hilarious novelty record.
– The angry non-league fan who gets irate at any attempt to add some colour by saying: “honestly, why do commentators insist on calling them postmen? They’re FOOTBALLERS!”
– The Queen in the royal box, trying to feign interest in a final of epic brutality from the 1970s.
You’ll have noticed that most of these date from at least 20 seasons ago. This is because …
3) THE FA CUP IS NOW A CONSOLATION PRIZE
… and no amount of earnest use of the #MagicOfTheCup hashtag can hide it.
It used to be a competition anyone could win. In the glory years of the 70s and 80s teams like Sunderland, Southampton, Ipswich, Coventry and even Tottenham won it, but only twice in the last 20 years has the FA Cup been won by teams other than Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and the Manchester clubs, all teams who were aiming higher. Of the two exceptions, Portsmouth’s win over Cardiff in 2008 has to be seen in the context of them being run like a Ponzi scheme.
Wigan’s win against Manchester City in 2013 was a genuine shock, but four days later they were relegated.
4) THE DEATH OF THE TANGERINE DREAM
When Blackpool won the mythical “Stanley Matthews Final” in 1953, it was the only match shown live on British television that year. It’s now possible to watch a dozen or more live matches every weekend, with another five or six thrown in during the week.
This weekend Blackpool host Arsenal. When a fourth-tier side hosts a top flight club it should be the tie of the round, but Blackpool were in the Premier League just eight years ago and their fans are so disillusioned with the owners that attendances have dropped to just 4000 and a number of them wanted to lose when they played Solihull Moors in the second round. Some boycotted a league cup tie the Emirates earlier this season in protest and the prospect of the owners using the money from this cup run to cling on to power at Bloomfield Road, is, for many fans, bollocks, really.