General view of the Fly Emirates FA Cup on display before kick off

In my formative years from 1965 – 1978 I was brought up watching the FA cup ties in awe. I was in awe of how attractive the competition was and how much it meant to be the winners of the trophy.

My first real memories are of Everton beating Sheffield Wednesday having been 2-0 down. I remember the goals from Mike Trebilcock and Derek Temple that gave them the trophy with a 3-2 win.

In those days, Everton were my second favourite team after Manchester United. I remember the standout players such as Gordon West, Alex Young and Brian Labone. That team should have won more than they did.

The FA Cup final meant a whole day in front of the television. Flipping between channels, (we only had ITV and BBC), was a must because you didn’t want to miss anything. Both channels covered the teams leaving their respective hotels and climbing on board the coaches that would take them to Wembley.

There would then be special FA Cup final editions of the likes of Quizball, an excellent programme hosted by David Vine, where representatives of two football teams would take each other on at a general knowledge quiz.

In those days the rules were very simple. You could choose an easy question, which meant that, to score a goal, you would have to answer four, or you could take a hard question which would result in an immediate goal should you answer it correctly. Obviously, in between, there were the two and three move questions. At any time you may be “tackled” by the opposition who, with a correct answer, would take control of the game.

This was a very popular quiz watched by fans every week in the hope of seeing their favourite footballers.

Anyway, enough digression. The magic of the FA Cup was alive and kicking back then and it was highly unusual to see any fans, other than the ones attending the game, outside of their houses on final day.

At some stage in the last twenty years or so this magic has gone. To win the FA Cup nowadays is just good. It is not the achievement it once was, it is just good.

It has gone from an annual tradition, like the Morecambe & Wise Christmas shows, to another game that people will watch providing they have nothing better to do. From a family occasion to a virtual non-event. What has caused this decline in what used to be the world’s greatest cup competition?

The simple answer is money. There is a lot more of it in the Premier League and the Champion’s League. Sky TV do not have the contract to show the FA Cup which, in some respects, is a good thing proving that they can’t have everything. Given that Sky are very good at promoting competitions then it is also a bad thing that they don’t have the FA Cup.

I am not saying that the magic of the old days would “magically” return if Sky was covering the tournament, it wouldn’t. Sky would cover the competition in their own way. I am reasonably sure though, that they would look to re-introduce some of the items that made it so successful back in the day.

Nowadays, winning the FA Cup is the dream of footballers outside of the elite. In the Premier League, it is a desirable competition for teams below the top six or eight. I am not saying that the top clubs do not want to win the FA Cup, because they do, they just don’t prioritise it. A high finish in the Premier League is more important.

It is about time that tradition reasserted itself over money and that the FA Cup was re-instated as the major competition it once was.


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