RUFC - Has The FA Cup Lost Its Magic?
Today sees the one hundred and thirty-second final of the world's oldest football cup competition - the FA Cup Final.
But has this final lost its magic?
I can remember when this was the day when whole families sat down in front of the television from early morning getting more and more excited watching the build-up to this wonderful competition final. There were camera's following the teams involved at breakfast through to lunch and then one on each coach as the clubs travelled from their London hotels to Wembley. On both the BBC and ITV the day was taken over by the FA Cup - when there would be 'special editions' of quizzes such as Mastermind and Question of Sport in between the visits to see which team was doing what. Days before the event you were with the teams as they picked their FA Cup suits and there was the 'FA Cup song' that teams insisted on putting our ears through!
But this season I had to even check who were playing.
Now whether that's because the Millers have turned our heads this season and the Football League has been more exciting or whether it's because the so-called 'big' teams don't seem to be bothered, I don't know.
And it was usually the only English game of the day - every football fan in England had eyes only for Wembley. This year there is a Premiership game being played on the same day - OK, not the same time but it does take a bit of a spark out of it doesn't it. Not only that, years ago it was the last game of the season, everything else had to be out of the way for the FA Cup Final. The Premiership still has games to play after today and then we have the play-offs.
But what started this disinterest in the oldest Cup competition? For me it's probably when Manchester United snubbed the competition by declaring their intention not to compete in it just a month after they'd won the cup and then other clubs such as Arsenal started to devalue the competition by fielding weakened sides.
And what of Wembley itself? What a great occasion it was for the club and the players who had got to the final to know they would be stepping out on the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium. Now there are some clubs who view Wembley as their second home, having the semi-final games there. And we mustn't forget that this also makes it doubly expensive for the fans who may have to travel to London twice in a matter of weeks.
This year's FA Cup, if you didn't know, will be between Manchester City and Wigan and will kick-off at 5.15pm (yes, that's right, 5.15pm). The kick-off time has infuriated travelling fans with the FA saying that it's necessary to attract the biggest audience. It's all about money isn't it and you can just see them rubbing their hands can't you. It doesn't matter that the fans might not get home because of train times, you know, that's the people who make football what it is. Trouble is we are no longer surprised at this.
So what can we do to bring the magic back? Perhaps we should have ALL the teams in the English top tiers entering the competition from the start - not the 'little' clubs for the first few rounds then eventually being joined by the big boys. Perhaps it's one competition we shouldn't let the TV dictate and ALL FA Cup games should kick-off on a Saturday at 3.00pm - from the first round to the final. And with it being evident over the last couple of years that the gates for the FA Cup games are dwindling faster than poor old Portsmouth dropping down the leagues perhaps there should be a fixed price for all FA Cup matches?
So, will you be watching today's FA Cup Final?
Surely there can't only be me saddened by it's demise?
What do you think?
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