The FA Cup is coming to the business end of the competition and for what is the world’s oldest national competition it appears to have lost it’s magic that it once possessed. It has become a place for teams to play younger second string sides, which in no way does the competition any justice.
Trolling hopelessly through twitter I stumbled across Paul Kirkwood a man who still loves this competition very much so, he has no allegiance to one side but to the FA Cup itself at the roots and at the heart of the Cup in particular.
So I thought I would ask Paul a few questions and find out why he still had so much love for this aging Cup.
What attracted you to the FA Cup?
It’s tradition, the fact that practically every team in the land enters it, and the excitement and all or nothing appeal of a knockout competition.
What about the early rounds makes the FA Cup special to you and the teams you watch?
The qualifying rounds of the competition gives a good excuse to visit quirky, smaller grounds and provide a theme to the first half of the spectating season. You can have your own little cup run. Getting to the first round is every team’s dream so each match has a National Lottery style “it could be you” feel to it.
Why do you think the bigger teams no longer have time for the FA Cup?
They are pre-occupied with either getting to or staying in the Premier League or qualifying for Europe. The third round marks such a big swing in the competition. Up to that point everyone wants to win ties and takes it seriously but thereafter the Cup loses its momentum and character. When big teams host small ones it’s almost as they’re reluctant party hosts obliged to put on a spread but with little enthusiasm for the contest.
Do you think the FA Cup will it ever get back to where it used to be?
No – unless more European places were put up for grabs. And I don’t think there will ever be another genuine major Cup shock either since all the big sides play weakened teams and many of the top non-league sides who might cause an upset aren’t really the minnows that non-league sides once were. I remember when Luton knocked Norwich out of the Cup recently. It was the first victory by a non-league team over a top tier team since Sutton/Coventry but it was eons away from the David v. Goliath feel of that upset.
So once again footballing world I appeal to your child like manner and the dreams of achieving the impossible as that is what the FA Cup was and what it still should be. Follow the example of Paul and get out to witness the early qualifying rounds of the Cup and take it that atmosphere of a local community coming together to dream big. Fall back in love with the FA Cup before the magic of the Cup falls from existence.
Unsure on where to begin your Cup journey follow Paul on his blog and see what he gets up to here.
By James Snook, TFN Columnist on 22/02/2016 at 16:27