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Monday, 1 June 2009

Cup Final week

There was a time when the FA Cup final was the biggest match of the English season.  Those days are long gone though with the advent of wall to wall live football on TV and the top teams focus on the ultimate goal of the Champions League.  Despite this I thought I would ignore the Mediterranean like Yorkshire weather on Saturday and settle down to watch the culmination of this season's competition.  Inevitably memories of our disastrous trip to the tiny village of Histon and our embarrassing exit from the competition floated back into my thoughts......................I suppose that's all part of the "magic of the cup" !
Now I was lucky enough to have witnessed first hand what was probably the halcyon days of Cup final watching from the mid sixties up to the advent of the early 90's and the advent of the BSkyB's monies.  
A typical cup final day would start at 11am when Grandstand would burst into life and before long we would be joining Barry Davis at the team's hotel and finding out what Jeff Astle and the rest of his West Brom colleagues had consumed for breakfast...........all riveting stuff in those days, don't forget this was the only live club game of the year!  Next would be Cup Final "It's a Knockout" with all the forced hilarity that Stuart Hall could muster as fans of the two teams fought it out in ridiculous costumes whilst throwing buckets of water at each other...........everyone knew it was crap but it was part of the fabric of the day.  After that it was off to the Question of Sport studios and David Coleman, replete in stupid jumper, adjudicating between teams made up of ex players from the two teams.  Just time for some lunch before we were back to the hotel to see the teams set off and they always had a reporter on the bus asking stupid questions of the players who were now desperately trying to control their nerves.  And so the build up went on with a quick interview with some celebrities in the bar, it was always Jimmy Tarbuck? before the match started.  
 It all seemed so special mainly because of the novelty of watching football live on TV but also because the teams were always different, unlike today's monotonous repetition of the big four parading their egos, West Brom, Leicester, Man City, QPR, Brighton, Southampton, Ipswich, Watford, Sunderland, Coventry.........even Newcastle had their moment in the limelight!
So back to Saturday and after the under dogs from the blue half of Merseyside had snatched an early lead Chelski gradually gained control and won the cup with comparative ease.  I don't know who scored the 2nd goal because by then I'd fallen asleep such was the excitement!
I suppose Old Togs like me have got to accept that the FA Cup is not the competition it once was and a lot of teams treat it with utter contempt, disappearing to Brazil instead of competing/ putting 2nd teams out for most rounds etc etc, but Football and more to the point genuine Football fans are worse off for it.  Gone has the chance to dream that this year your team will be the one discussing their breakfast menu with Barry Davis and recording a cheesy cup final song..........and with it has gone the magic of the cup.

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