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The magic of the F.A. Cup is real!

I love the F.A. Cup! I believe it is still relevant. Ask the Arsenal fans when they are mocking Spurs fans, about their barren trophy cabinet, if the F.A. Cup is important? Ask the Wigan fans if they would swap their day of glory, winning the cup in 2013, for avoiding relegation and remaining perennial Premier League strugglers?
  When I was a youngster, I doted on my Grandad’s every word. He once told me, “ the league is your bread and butter and the Cup your cherry on top of the cake”. I completely misunderstood him. I thought he meant that like,” bread and butter”, the league was mundane and everyday, but that the F.A.Cup, well, the Cup, now, that was magical! I know better now but I still can’t shake that feeling, the F.A. Cup is magical!
I don’t know how true my childhood memories are or how much they resonate with other fan’s memories. When I was young the F.A. Cup final was an all day affair and was one of only a few live football matches shown on television each year. I always watched it round my mate’s house, in a sort of orange glow because the sun always shone on Cup final day and the curtains were always drawn to prevent glare on the telly. Build up to the match started early, we would watch breakfast with the teams, the road to Wembley, shots of fans walking down Wembley Way etc. My mate’s Mum would make sandwiches, it is the only time I ever recall eating in front of the telly as a child. How things change? When you’re a kid is your best mate even your mate, if his Dad doesn’t spout sage wisdom and information about the game throughout the day? Forget John Motson, my mate’s Dad had the real knowledge! I don’t really remember the actual games. I just remember the sense of occasion, the team songs, the reverent references to the hallowed Wembley turf etc.; back then even Cup semi-finals weren’t good enough for Wembley and were normally held at Hillsborough and Villa Park.
The third round weekend was one of the season highlights, back to school after Christmas for two or three days and then, bang, F.A. Cup weekend. On the following Monday we would all crowd round the Maths teacher’s radio to hear the draw. Kids that weren’t really interested in football would get swept up by the fervour and listen in too, the draw was a significant thing.
I know that times change, that priorities change. We are bombarded with football viewing, facts, and gossip 24/7 and, inevitably, the value of the F.A. Cup has been watered down. Lots of people have been blamed for this watering down, the Premier League, Sky, foreigners, the top clubs etc. I remember in the late nineties, and early in this millennium the top clubs were being blamed due to fielding weakened teams, (squad rotation), but if you look at the winners between 1996 and 2005, only Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool won. If anything it was the so-called smaller clubs not taking the Cup seriously. Now, you have teams throughout the Premier League and the Championship rotating their team. What happened to the old boast,” put your medals on the table”, has it been replaced by show me your number of,” twelfth place finishes”!
In all honesty, I don’t care what any of the clubs do or think, I love the F.A. Cup. Please, this weekend, give me some great goals, some upsets, some controversial moments, some hard luck stories and some small team done good stories. I will be in Heaven because as I may have mentioned before, I love the F.A. Cup!

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