Hurrah and hussar! The footie season is upon us, yet once again!

I’m not as passionate about football as I was twenty to fifteen years ago, just ask my Mum. “Ah, well, it’s only a game,” she would blithely reassure me, as my club, Manchester City, would lose yet again, and again. “It’s not just a game!” I would indignantly protest, commencing some foaming rant about loyalty, pride, meaning, etc. But, as I have found, it is just a game; Bill Shankly was a pillock when he said football’s more serious than life or death. Some way-over-paid tax-exempt tosser, half-heartedly kicking a ball around a field does not do it, for me, any more. They just don’t care about the club nor their supporters, and the Premier League has lost some of its sheen and/or magic, as a result.

Although I enjoyed City finally winning our first trophy, the FA Cup, in 35 sodding years, apart from beating United in the semi-final, was it such a glorious achievement? Well, yes, actually it was. As any of my United supporting mates/associates will atest. When we won The Cup, and seconds after fakely offering congratulations, they starting goading me with, “Yes, but it’s only the FA Cup, it’s not a proper/serious trophy any more; it’s the Premier League and the Champions League that matter.” Yes, they are superior tournaments with millions lavished upon the qualifiers and winners, but the fact that they have to try and be-little the FA Cup, only because City won it, and that United had got as far as the semis only proves the Cup’s importance, no matter what load of shite they come out with.

Any Englishman who denounces the FA Cup, the world’s oldest football tournament is missing the point. What other tournament could provide such magical Finals as 1953, when Blackpool came back from 3-1 down against a very good Bolton Wanderers, winning 4-3; 1956 Bert Trautmann playing-on despite a suffering broken neck; Charlie George’s sweet strike for Arsenal to make it 2-1, handing Arsenal the 1971 League and Cup double; underdogs Sunderland astoundingly over-coming Leeds United in 74; Southampton beating Man United in 76; Man United beating double-chasing Liverpool in 77; little Ipswich Town beating Arsenal in 78; Arsenal beating Man United 3-2 in 79; Trevor Brooking heading the only goal for West Ham as they beat Arsenal in 80; Ricky Villa’s “mazy” run to win the replay for Spurs and, in turn, breaking my 13 year old heart in 81, after Tommy Hutchison had scored for both teams in the first match.

Every football supporter worth his salt have their own special, magical memories of The FA Cup (the people’s cup), THE most special football tournament in the world, just ask Tow Law Town or Great Yarmouth or Callington or any other of the thousands of small clubs whose players receive no wages for playing, and their supporters, the length and breadth of the country; and long may it continue.

The Premier League? It’s ok, I suppose . . .

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