When did the FA Cup become so boring?

by Martin

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Are we heading for another Chelsea v Man Utd final?

Alan Taylor, Ian Porterfield, Lawrie Sanchez, Roger Osborne, Ricardo Villa, Keith Houchen, the late Bobby Stokes, the list goes on. FA Cup Final goal-scoring heroes who have their names carved into the memories of everyone who sat down to watch the big game every year. Players who caused the upsets, or scored the classics that we still talk about today.

When I was growing up the Cup Final was special. Yes, in those days it was the only match broadcast live all season, I would watch the build up at home from 10 am, then at 2.30 nip next door as the neighbours had a colour telly. Any team could win the cup, as the likes of Wimbledon, Sunderland, Ipswich, Coventry and Southampton proved. Causing an upset in the early rounds meant something, you genuinely had a chance of winning the thing.

So what happened? When did the FA Cup become so boring?

It is now 13 years since a team that isn’t Liverpool, Arsenal, Man U or Chelsea won it. In that time we have had a few pretenders make the final, only to be despatched with ease on the day (ok West Ham put up a decent fight). Can anyone genuinely reel off with excitement the winners and goal-scorers of the last 13 finals like I still can for the 70’s and 80’s? I think not. The FA Cup lost its magic a long time ago.

There have been a number of upsets this season, and its possible that a League One team could make the semis, but does anyone really believe that the cup won’t go to the winner of the Chelsea v Man Utd game, be that the semi or the final?

We’re back to my television bug-bear again. The cup ceased to be special when Sky started broadcasting so many live games. In the wake of their ridiculous Grand Slam Sunday’s and the like, suddenly a game between Man U and Millwall loses some glamour. And lets be honest, TV and the FA are desperate for the big 4 to make the final in order to satisfy the legions of armchair fans who don’t realise they have a local team as well as the millions overseas who they think wouldn’t be interested in a Bristol Rovers v Portsmouth final.

What the FA Cup needs is a final that brings the romance back. A tense battle between two sides to whom winning the cup actually means something other than just another medal. So lets hope for the sake of football that Barnsley can see off Chelsea and Pompey can do Utd, then we may have a final I’d be interested in watching.

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