The FA Cup has been written off by many fans as something of a dead duck in recent years, myself included. Not even the romance of Wigan beating the obscenely over-spending Citeh could seemingly revive its one time dominance on the English Football calendar although in truth nothing probably ever will. Especially so given that even the Football Association themselves have devalued it by selling its soul to the corporate wannabes and mega brewery shite larger salesmen. The Super-hyped Sky dominant Premiership and Champions League have reduced this once much loved trophy to the back-waters of the English football calendar.
Or so I thought until Saturday.
If you've had many footballing moments as good as this then you're very lucky and it has to be said we are extremely lucky to support a Club such as Arsenal
When I was a kid, way back when, the F A Cup was one of the few live games to be seen on black and white television and as such it helped the Cup stand head and shoulders above the League as a national footballing event. A whole nation would watch it before a second TV channel arrived with adverts to offer alternative viewing. In those days of course only real football fans got tickets for the game. And Wembley’s emergence as a world footballing centre probably came about largely because of the FA Cup Final going international on the airwaves. And thus it became the internationally renowned stadium it never deserved to be. The pitch was always good, except for the odd League Cup debacle, but it’s always been an over-rated over-hyped stadium on an Industrial Estate. Still is. That said you just can't top seeing your team play there for the big one in the merry month of May.
Many players are remembered for one specific final
Because the FA Cup has been such a very English institution since its inception in 1872 it has acquired some very English traits over the past 142 years. Not least of which is the whole giant killing thing. The whole point of the FA Cup for many is the possibility of a Cup minnow getting the better of a Cup giant. That’s a given. The Ronnie Radford Trophy came about for good reason. We all love footballing underdogs, because every season almost without fail one of them will best a footballing giant. Ideally that will be a team that we just happen to despise.
The Cup is so big some claim goals they never scored
That’s why almost the entire English footballing fraternity was rooting for Hull this season, Wigan last season and no one gave a toss the year before. I mean when the Chavs play Pool who other than London fans and Evertonians gives a shit who wins?
Even rather average players can become all time heroes
I believe Arsenal inadvertently did the Cup proud this season because ours was an exciting final for the neutrals to enjoy. We defended poorly so the underdogs were able to set about getting everyone’s hopes up, there was some piss poor refereeing decisions where penalties were not awarded to the amusement of football enthusiasts everywhere other than Arsenal fans, extra time was an added bonus for most, there was a classic 0-2 down 3-2 up comeback, there was the spectacle of the underdog hanging on for grim death and there was a brilliant winning goal by a potentially world class player of the future, set up by a delightful back-heeled flick. What more could anyone want of a Final? Perhaps a mad keeper flying off his line in an attempt to blow it late on. No good for the Arsenal nerves but absolutely fine for everyone else.
Sometimes very average players become heroes
It’s been claimed in the past that Wenger doesn’t value the FA Cup as much as the Champions League and Premiership and quite frankly nor should he. But having won an amazing 5 FA Cups now it is somewhat difficult to claim he doesn’t give a toss, even if he insists on playing his second choice keeper on such occasions. Mind you that could have quite simply been a ploy to retain the old one, or attract a new one.
Cup Final memories are there forever
What I learned this season was that the Cup doesn’t matter if you’re not there but matters enormously if you are. I most definitely was there for yet another FA Cup Final with Arsenal and despite thinking the FA Cup was becoming as dead as a dodo my guts still churned pre-match as they did in 1971. Plus I was as deliriously ecstatic as everyone else when Aaron Ramsey blagged the winner. If your team is actually there, partaking in the Final, it still means absolutely everything, as the 250,000+ confirmed in Islington on the Sunday. Maybe even Kroenke has now figured it out, because I doubt very much he’s ever attended a sporting occasion to match that one. Surely that passion and pure joy must have come across even in such a sanitised area as the Royal Box.
Sometimes great players bag the winner
The FA Cup is only ever dormant for most clubs fans until they reach a final again. Maybe pretty dead for the likes of Tottenham fans though who’ve not now attended a final for 23 years, never mind Arsenal’s over mentioned 9. But even their fans will love it to bits again should they ever fluke their way to another final.
Sometimes players create their own piece of special history
I am one lucky bar steward because Saturday’s Final was my 8th attendance at a winning Cup Final with the mighty Arsenal. To put that in perspective that’s as many as Spurs have won in their entire 120 year history of FA cup football. And they used to reckon they’re a Cup team... well they’re certainly not a league winning team are they?
Sometimes you even forget who was in the team
No. The premature demise of FA Cup football is a mere rumour denied by the 40,000 or so Gooners inside Wembley on May 17th this year. Their absolute extremes of agony and ecstasy was testament to a footballing intuition still being very much alive and kicking.
The FA Cup is alive and well, and long may it remain so.
It looks even better with plain red and white ribbons, or even yellow or course
Brian Dawes @Gooner48