With this weekend’s FA Cup quarter final action taking place, the romance of this great cup competition has still not died. Look at Leeds United or Reading for example.
Whilst many pundits and journalists muse over the decline of England’s premier cup competition, claiming that clubs do not take it seriously anymore. That we see less upsets than in the past. Well that’s just drivel. Leeds United and Reading’s amazing results in the FA Cup this season and we can all clearly see the romance is still there.
Whilst not being a Leeds United fan myself, my family hails from the industrial northern city and their 1-0 victory over Manchester United cannot be underestimated as to the effect it had on those fans. It had everything that game. Leeds United fans in full voice at Old Trafford, flying challenges left, right and centre, a fully committed performance from the underdogs and it was edge of your seat stuff. It had everything an FA Cup match is. Following this on with a dramatic 2-2 game with Tottenham at White Hart Lane Leeds United provided some of this year’s greatest FA Cup memories.
Reading have gone even further than Leeds United with victories over the likes of West Brom, Liverpool and Burnley. Reading’s beating of Liverpool at Anfield in particular was an FA Cup night to remember. Those upsets are exactly what we tune in for 3rd round day for. To hope that even just one major upset could happen. Havant and Waterlooville’s epic encounter with Liverpool in 2008 which resulted in the part time side leading twice at Anfield is what the FA Cup is all about. Whilst Liverpool came back and won the game, we all watched in fascination, willing on the little team that could.
The FA Cup gives smaller teams the chance to play at some of the best teams in the country. One good little Cup run for a non-league or lower league side can sustain a club for quite some time. It is a tournament this country should continue to be proud of. The argument that clubs just do not take it as seriously anymore is rubbish. Yes it does not have the money spinning capabilities of the Champions League or the Premiership title, but it is our national premier cup competition and clubs do take it seriously. You only had to look at Sir Alex Ferguson’s face after the defeat to Leeds United at Old Trafford to know he takes it seriously. Liverpool’s Rafa Benitez most certainly took it seriously after the club’s knocking out of the Champions League. Reading played out of their skins in those two games, Liverpool were just poor.
So this weekend as the FA Cup plays out its quarter final stage, there is still some upsets and romance left. Reading has a particularly difficult home tie against League Cup finalist’s Aston Villa. But don’t write them off yet, they have beaten a couple of Premiership sides already. Stoke City take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in what could prove a tight encounter as Chelsea’s defensive frailties are being given a close examination recently. Stoke also knocked out Arsenal this season. Portsmouth and Birmingham will prove a tight contest at Fratton Park, with the bottom side having only really the FA Cup left to play for. An all London affair is taking place at Craven Cottage between Fulham and Tottenham Hotspurs. Again a tight clash I would not like to call.
The FA cup still has it all for me, dreams can come true and hearts can be broken. It pits the big with the small, the rich with the poor. The romance of the FA Cup will never die.
Do you think the FA Cup has lost some romance?
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