For 150 years, the FA Cup has given us all sorts of emotions. But yet a competition that has survived 2 World Wars, seems to be slowly fading away with the money and greed that is invading the beautiful game.
For me the FA Cup is a competition about the smaller teams trying to nick a result against a far superior team on paper, but over the 90 minutes of an FA Cup tie, anything is possible. I love watching a semi pro side taking on millionaires, on a damp muddy pitch, in an old school terraced stadium.
A prime example of this was the recent game where Marine AFC, a small team in the 8th tier of English football, facing Tottenham Hotspur and the likes of Gareth Bale and Dele Alli. This is what the FA Cup is all about.
The thrill for the fans who normally watch plumbers and bin men week in week out, getting to see the likes of Gareth Bale facing up against their local side. Priceless.
However during this game, I realised how much the FA Cup has changed. Pre game the pundits were making jokes, laughing, treating it more like a circus than a football game. During the game it wasn’t much better, with the commentators making snide remarks and constantly putting the lower league side down. Marine, who had played 7 games already in the competition, defeating numerous teams above them in the pyramid while they were at it, deserved a bit more respect in my eyes. They made it there on merit, and deserved a crack at the Premier League side. They gave it a great go, and they should be more than proud of themselves. Losing 5-0 to a side like Spurs is nothing to be ashamed of.
Spurs deserve a great deal of credit. They donated over £350,000 to the non league side. With fans not able to attend, Marine looked destined to lose out on the revenue from match tickets. However Tottenham and their fans decided to buy online ‘virtual’ tickets for the game, donating money to the non league side in return for having a shot at being Marine manager for a game. This initiative helped massively and its great to see in these tough times.
Another side of the FA Cup slowly fizzling out, is the BT Sport takeover. It seems like they are showing more and more games each season. The whole point of the FA Cup is that it’s for the people. Charging £29.99 a month to watch the FA Cup is defeating the point of the competition. Next round, non league Chorley are live on BT Sport against Wolves. This means both the 3rd and 4th round games for Chorley have now been on BT. If you’re a Chorley fan, you will need to splash out on a monthly BT Sport subscription to see your local side in the FA Cup, costing you even more money, and pumping more and more into billionaires pockets.
My final point of the historic competition fading away, comes from the Crawley v Leeds game. Hats off to Crawley winning 3-0 against the Premier League side, however they bought on reality TV star, Mark Wright late on in the game, in which seems to be another publicity stunt.
Some of the youngsters at Crawley would’ve been working for years to get on for a few minutes against a Premier League side, yet a reality TV star steams in and takes their hard earned place.
I think the latest round of the FA Cup delivered the final nail in the coffin for the ‘magical’ competition. A combination of belittling, greed, and media stunts, have all plagued what was once the best cup competition in the world.