Lots Of Magic Left In The FA Cup Yet

May 13, 2015 12:06 pm

The Champions League is responsible for many things: a theme tune that nobody knows the words to but sings along anyway, never-ending talk of top two/three/four finishes, an ever-widening gap between the haves and the have-nots and, some would have you believe, the demise of domestic cup competitions.

by  wales_gibbons

by wales_gibbons

With its glitz and glamour, famous faces and gigantic trophy, how could anyone possibly want to win any other prize?

This is, quite obviously, a narrow-minded view and one that has gathered weight purely because it is offered by those at the top of the food chain – those who find themselves in the enviable position of being able to challenge for the most prestigious of honours.

For the rest, though, there is still plenty of reason to take cup runs seriously and to harbour dreams of sun-soaked summer days in which major silverware is added to cabinets that have been allowed to get a little dusty.

In English football, that is very much the case, with the FA Cup boasting a history and standing within sporting folklore that the Champions League can only dream of.

Long before attention is turned towards trips to Wembley, this iconic competition offers amateur hopefuls the opportunity to rub shoulders with professional superstars and all of those outside of the elite a chance to enjoy 15 minutes of fame as an annual spate of giant-killing commences.

For all of those claiming that the FA Cup has lost some of its magic in the modern era, there will be a Bradford City or Sheffield United supporter ready to sing its praises and reminisce about the days when they humbled the great and good of English football.

This season, you could probably throw Aston Villa fans into that category.

One successful trip to the capital has already been taken in, with Liverpool sent packing along the way, and another will be made in early June as Tim Sherwood’s side – seemingly free of the threat of relegation – seek to prevent Arsenal from completing a successful defence.

The Gunners’ success last season saw them bring to an end a nine-year barren run, with the level of criticism they faced for spending so long outside of the winners’ enclosure bordering on the absurd at times.

The FA Cup offered them, Arsene Wenger and their expectant fan base some welcome relief, with their triumph, and the outpouring of emotion which accompanied it, suggesting that the competition still means plenty – even to those with a seat firmly wedged at Europe’s top table.

Just imagine how Villa supporters feel right now, as they count down the days to a potential first trophy celebration in 19 years. Arsenal thought they had it bad…they didn’t.

The fabled ‘magic’ will most definitely be in the air when the Claret and Blues make the long journey south on June 6th and no-one, not even the weather gods, will be able to rain on their parade if Sherwood and his troops find themselves climbing those famous steps – with FA Cup betting markets such as those at bet365 pricing them at around 5/1 when this article was produced to do just that.

This isn’t the Champions League, but it isn’t trying to be.

Talk of a rebranding may be difficult to stomach – the Emirates FA Cup doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. But it must be remembered that this is the oldest cup competition in the world and even sporting institutions have to move with the times.

It is, however, an event that is far from on the way out, with  plucky underdogs, bobbly pitches, the third round draw and cup final day itself as much a part of the English football diet as any Champions League fixture.

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