The Magic Of The FA Cup

9 03 2008

The FA Cup has a long and storied history (it’s the oldest football competition in the world) and is world famous for the unique spirit, passion and drama it has evoked since its inception way back in 1871.

Many have questioned whether this magic has died in recent years. The love for the cup is still there, it always will be, but the famous giant-killings have become increasingly rare, more’s the pity.

One look at the most recent winners would suggest that this has an element of truth. Over the past ten years Arsenal have won four times (so much for it being Man United’s trophy), Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United have won two apiece.

In fact the last time a side outside of the current top four won was in 1995. The last time a side outside of the top division won was in 1980 and none have even reached the final since 2004 when Millwall managed the feat, and were hammered 3-0.

So with that as the background it’s great that this year’s competition has brought back some of the glory days of FA Cup football. Liverpool faced part-timers Havant & Waterlooville, in the fourth round in a fairytale tie. The non-leaguers gave the Anfield crowd a scare too, taking the lead twice before succumbing 5-2. The 13-time finalists, and 7 time winners, then went on to lose 2-1 to Barnsley in the next round.

Plucky Barnsley went on to knock out Chelsea, in a result I actually predicted with friends (I wish I’d put money on it). Manchester United, having brushed aside Arsenal, albeit with both sides fielding weakened teams, 4-0 in the last round, went on to lose at home to Portsmouth. Although I thought there was a possibility of an upset there, being at home and in good form I honestly expected United to scrape through.

Some Arsenal fans I know wanted Portsmouth to go on and win the trophy once we’d been knocked out, because they have a few ex-Arsenal boys. For them to beat United at Old Trafford, however, only makes that possibility even sweeter. I know some people have been complaining about the prospect of a final between two of the smaller sides but Portsmouth have played some very high quality football this season.

A day for the purists then, as the magic of the cup returns. Thank God for that.


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