Some people (all of them are devoid of sense) think the “magic” of the FA Cup died in 2000 when Manchester United were persuaded not to defend their trophy, but to go and compete for the World Club Cup in Brazil. That is bollocks. The magic of the FA Cup died in 1992, the year that Sky invented football.
When I was a wee lad the FA Cup was what it was all about. I didn’t really understand the league table with all its for and against columns. However, I could understand the cup and the games were astonishingly exciting. Teams I had never heard of before were beating teams from Division 1 and part time tooth paste tasters were scoring goals to win big games. Then, when it came to the final the coverage went on all day long, starting at about 9am on two out of the three channels that were available. Essentially on cup final day you could either watch the final or a documentary about blind nuns training silkworms to spin clouds in the arid wastelands of Norfolk; it was brilliant.
During the coverage there would be a fascinating insight into how the two teams had got to the final, interviews with the managers, key players and often a quirky chat with a random member of staff – “twelve minutes with the tea lady” or “perineal massage with the physio” and all of it was captivating. Then there was the FA Cup final song when both teams would record 3 minutes of magic to cap off their brilliance but with the obvious exception of the “Klanfield rap,” they were all fantastic. It is also worth pointing out in these halcyon days nowhere was open to distract the viewing. Pubs shut at 3pm and woman had yet to properly discover garden centres. Families used to gather round the television and watch, regardless of who was playing.
Then in 1992 Sky invented football and in particular the Premier. This signalled the beginning of the end of the FA Cup. The final in 1993 was the last one to go to a replay, meaning that should any future finals end extra time level the competition would be decided by a penalty shootout. A penalty shootout? A whole season settled by penalties when its a lottery. A sham. Then second replays were banned from the knockout rounds, prior to these teams would replay until there was a winner – what could be better than watching an FA Cup 5th round 4th replay on a mud bath of a County Ground pitch? Then in 1994 the dirty bastards at the FA sold their soul to Littlewoods. They allowed this dear old tournament to be sponsored. Imagine Prince William allowing his wife to be sponsored, “HRH The Duchess of Cambridge in association with Trojan double strength condoms, ideal for unlubed anal” it is unlikely and it is wrong, as is allowing a sponsor for the FA Cup. They then bettered that by awarding the sponsorship to AXA, at least we all knew what Littlewoods did. What the fuck was AXA? But why would the FA care, they had snaffled up £25m which would go partly towards paying off the wholly unrealistic costs of the new Wembley and partly towards the cost of 12 subscriptions to www.fisting.com for the executive board.
Once their internet cash ran dry they decided they should knock down the old Wembley stadium, one of the bastions of world football, possibly the second most important behind Welfare Park (home of Bedlington Terriers) and rebuild it just yards from the previous site. Again imagine if “HRH the Duchess of Cambridge in association with Vagisil, clearing up itching without all the bitching” decided to do the same with Buckingham Palace? Outrage would doubtless ensue and so it did with the rebuilding of Wembley. Many thought it shouldn’t stay in London, some even touted the Northwest of England. I hoped they would construct it on the island of Guam, as long as they had adequate methods of keeping the brown tree snakes out.
So they closed Wembley in 2000. The national teams’ last fixture was a fitting 1-0 defeat to Germany and the plan was to re-open in 2003. However this project was being run by the FA, so of course they didn’t start demolishing until 2002 as they had to attend 12 committee meetings to decide what colour diggers to use, Lord Rectumly-tight of Devon favoured the traditional yellow while Lord Rimmingly-welcome was hoping for a red, white and blue model. The stadium was finished in 2007, merely 4 years beyond the initial deadline and to celebrate the FA executive board awarded Steven Gerrard the title “Man of the match”. The FA immediately wiped some more of the “magic” away from the newly titled “Faeces Cup sponsored by Imodium” by hosting the semi-final matches at Wembley too. So, imagine Newcastle and Sunderland were paired in a semi-final (you may have to close your eyes, drink liquid MDMA and inhale aerosols to imagine this far fetched event happening) their fans would have to trudge to Wembley for the semi-final costing hundreds of pounds and taking days in travel time unless the clubs laid on extra horse & carts. This also instantly detracted from the experience for the fans and the players, getting to Wembley was no longer the pinnacle, it was merely a stepping stone.
Bringing us to this year, we have perhaps the most unsavoury final imaginable as the racists of Liverpool take on the racists of Chelsea in what the lower end tabloid papers will probably call “the fairytale final” as the sullied Suarez and the tainted Terry will no doubt be central figures. Imagine if the old style coverage was reintroduced for 2012, what would the player profiles look like?
Name – Luis Suarez
Position – Staunch right wing/Nazi
Born – In deep south America circa 1915
Career Highlights – Biting a player in Holland, cheating Ghana out of a World Cup semi final and racially abusing a player.
And how about their interesting interviews? We might have “Terry’s 12 minutes with the tea lady” where we watch John Terry smashing the tea ladies’ back doors in while his dad sells crack to all the kitchen porters. Or how about “Stevie G’s desert island discs” where Steve tells us about his favourite songs, until the DJ gets one wrong and Steve stoves his head in with the Carling cup. Not content with allowing these two sets of wankers to contest the final, (I havent even mentioned “hey you guys” Kuyt, the midfield orks of Spearing & Shelvey, Ashley “Sharpshooter” Cole or Ladyboy Torres) the FA then changed the kick off time. That is WRONG, it always has and always should be 3pm. That is when the FA Cup final kicks off, not whatever time Sky, ITV 5+1 or Babestation Xtra say it should be played.
All things considered the FA Cup is in dire trouble, but don’t worry. I happen to know that the FA have big changes to the tournament from next season:
From 2012-13 the FA Cup will become England’s second tier competition. It will be in a league format and all 72 of the football league clubs will be placed into groups of 24. These 24 teams will play each other 3 times, once home, once away and once in Qatar. Then, the top 12 from each group will be joined by every team that is knocked out of the Johnson paint trophy, making a round of 64. These ties will be decided by drawing lots from Simon Cowells trouser waistband live on the X Factor just after the annual appearance of Cher Lloyd. The remaining 32 will play each other home and away for the right to join the second round of 32 which will be bolstered by a selected 16 teams from the league of Wales. All of these games will be played at the Millenium stadium on Welsh Wednesday. Finally every losing team from the Carling cup second round will enter the tournament and the next 2 rounds will be played in Kuala Lumpar and Seoul. Eventually the tournament will culminate in the quarter and semi finals played in one day at Wembley stadium, like the cricket Twenty20’s. The winners of the semi finals will be joined by the runners up of the semi finals for FINALS DAY – In association with Instagram. Where users of the popular app will be able to post their pictures onto a giant screen at Wembley.
Magic of the FA cup – restored.