Back twenty or so years ago, the FA Cup was one of the most sought after trophies in England, with a real sense of achievement attached to winning it. However nowadays, the cup is regarded as a ‘mickey mouse’ cup to some of the bigger teams, although it is no doubt that some teams would cherish the moment, recent winners such as Chelsea haven’t regarded it in such high prestige.
The FA has also made a mockery of the trophy recently, changing the Cup final kick off to quarter past five from three o’clock. The three o’clock in May was a tradition that had been set for many years in the lives of football fans, to change it was merely insulting. The current sponsors ‘Budweiser’ have also gone the extra mile to make a mockery of the famous trophy, with them sponsoring Wembley FC’s bid to take Wembley to Wembley, fielding has been players such as Graham Le Saux, Ray Parlour and Martin Keown. The commercial stunt is unfair on the lads that actually play for Wembley FC, who would want a stab at the competition themselves.
It’s not only recently the FA Cup has been looked down up on, Manchester United were one of the first guilty culprits, withdrawing in 2000 to compete in the ‘World Club Cup’. A trophy that does sound very prestigious, but in reality is merely a way Europe can show that they have superior dominance, or Asian fans can see their favourite team live. Teams no longer have to go through these lengths any more, with the Club Cup held in December, the teams can compete still for the famous trophy.
I was watching Brian Clough’s interview with John Motson not long ago and pointed out a part that wouldn’t happen in modern football. Clough said ‘I’d throw away the FA Cup, the European cup and the League Cup if you could guarantee the league title’. Yes, he did say throw away the FA Cup. However these days, I very much doubt you could find a manager who would gladly throw away the Champions League in order to win domestic honours.
There is an argument that it hasn’t lost its worth, Manchester City, winners in 2011, took their victory seriously and their cup win that year can be seen as contributing progress to the Premier League title last season. The FA Cup delivered Mancini his first trophy as City boss and showed he had the credentials to lead the side on.
The FA Cup may have lost its worth to some, but there is still something special about that first weekend in a cold January when a side from the Premiership is given a tough time against a non league team on pitch the state of a pig sty. And as a Boro fan, I’d love to win the FA Cup, to me there’s nothing better in English football than a full stadium singing ‘Que Sera Sera, whatever will be, will be, we’re going to Wembley, Que Sera, Sera’.