So today is the official last day of the season and it ends with the grand old trophy, the F.A. Cup, being played for at the historic Wembley.
Some say it has lost its prestige as the advertisers force us to focus on the Premier League and the new improved Champions League cup. To hear people talk you would think that the knock-out challenge events are old hat and without magic.
But let’s look at tradition.
The Cup is old, really old. It was hand crafted by the finest silversmiths in London back in ’14. Wembley is iconic and has seen a number of finals and events since ’07. That’s right, the stadium is steeped in 7 years of tradition and handed out the new cup at least once.
But let’s look at history, though.
In 1981 over 100,000 people watched Man City play Spurs to a draw and over 90,000 paid for the extra replay that featured Ricky going walkabout through the defense. It’s a classic moment cherished by lots of people that remember when shorts were short.
Then there was just a few years later the final where Andy Gray cheated Watford out of a Cinderella cup. Everton were favorites to win but it was the F.A. Cup where anything was possible! Everton won.
Then there were the finals that no one would ever forget. Kevin Moran being the first player sent off in a Final for a professional foul against a strong Everton team… it looked all over until a young Norman Whiteside scored a classic curler in extra time down a man.
Then in 1987 the heavily favored Spurs played the small Coventry city who featured such stars as Dave Bennett, Trevor Peake, and Keith Houchen? Probably the big O (Ogrizovic) in goal was their most famous player along with big Cyrille (Regis) up front. The game was a classic featuring 5 goals including the tying, extra-time producing, diving header by Keith (who relived winning the holy grail with the Daily Fail. ) But it will always be famous for the perfect own goal by Gary Mabbutt to win the game for the opposition and historically being the first two score a goal for two teams in one final.
1988 Featured the “Crazy Gang” of Wimbledon in what some called the most shocking final result ever. I don’t think it really was that surprising: Wimbledon were crazy but organized and people forget they finished in the top 10 that year (I think).
But it was still memorable for the moment when a lanky mop or a skinny goalkeeper with a perm was the first to save a regular time penalty.
Since then there have been many more finals including a Crystal Palace versus Manchester United final and replay, Arsenal, Chelsea winning a few and the impressive fixture of Portsmouth against Cardiff. Then there was Wigan beating Citeh….
So the F.A.Cup is important!
At least to the 1980s when football was played by men in short shorts for a good income, pride and for the fans. In the days of Subbuteo and Panini stickers. Back in the days where the playground had supporters of lots of teams: Oxford, Leicester, Liverpool, Wolves, Forest, Liverpool, Aston Villa and we didn’t just worry about Chelski, Man Cetihad or follow success and money.
This week we get Grandpa Wenger taking on Tactic Tim in the final and the biggest topic of conversation is… whether Liverpool will get to the group stages in the Europa League automatically. Yes the F.A.Cup has lost the magic for the young kids of today but to me it is still magic… I still get a smile thinking of the aforementioned Coventry win.
Maybe I just don’t like new magic. I watch the French Open wishing Henri Leconte and Yannick Noah were still playing (and Lendl losing). I watch Wimbledon and wish Becker and Edberg were dueling it out. Sometimes I listen to Duran Duran but to the pick.
My pick is Arsenal to win 4-1 with this trophy being enough to keep the old man for one more year.
I picked them every round and haven’t been wrong on that front so far! Tactic Tim will go looking for heart and guts… he will look into the crowd and see the empty seats given to 17,000 Wembley members. He’ll find the slightly under 20,000 Spurs fans and similar number of Villains. He’ll even see a disappointed Prince William in the stands and realize the game is about the wealthy, the kickbacks, and not the fans.
Prince William allegedly didn’t like that all his Etonian friends supported the big clubs so he scoured the map looking for an area that might have a team with which he could kindle an emotional relationship… on his map he discovered that there was an area to the North known as “the midlands” and deep in the this area was another city that many of the common people would support. Birmingham City would have been the obvious choice but “claret and blue” sounded at least a little less “blue” collar and it was a match made in fake sincerity ever since.