Cancel the Cup.

Published: Monday, 11 January 2021
So was it all worth it? Ask Chorley that question and the answer would be a definite ‘yes’. You’d get the same answer from Crawley. And despite taking a bit of a hiding from Spurs, Marine would agree. They had a day out that they will never replicate.

But - how heavy a price are we going to have to pay for staging last weekend’s 3rd round FA Cup ties?

Time was that the 3rd round was special. Everybody played Saturday - usually whatever the weather - and on surfaces that would see a parks match called off these days. If you’re not old enough to remember Hereford beating Newcastle go and have a look at it.

Those were the days. When mighty Newcastle - SuperMac, Tudor, Moncur and McFaul - were humbled by Southern League Hereford. For accuracy, it’s worth pointing out that the game at a Edgar St was a replay, but that fact spoils the story!

Some of us remember Wrexham beating George Graham’s Arsenal at The Racecourse - Mickey Thomas crashing in an unstoppable free-kick to finish the Gunners off. Make no mistake, Arsenal were a good team. They won the competition the next season.

And I hate to mention it - but Sutton Utd will never forget their day in the sunshine when they beat Coventry. We weren’t the holders incidentally - this was 1989 - people often get that confused - but it doesn’t dilute the embarrassment.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter really. They were all famous FA Cup wins. And there were others - Leatherhead (and their famous lip Chris Kelly) and Blyth Spartans come to mind.

We loved it - huddled around the fire watching David Coleman in his pomp on Grandstand - before rushing to the shops to buy The Pink (or Green ‘un) It was magic. But it really isn’t like that anymore.

The FA Cup isn’t what it once was. Too many teams find it a distraction. A whole lot really don’t care. The 18 PL teams playing before Monday made a total of 113 changes between them. Go further down the ladder - Millwall 8, Forest 8, M’boro 7, Swansea 7, Rotherham 6, Wycombe 5, Blackpool 4, MK Dons 3 - and so it goes on. It’s ridiculous - until you stop to ask ‘why?’.  

The first objective of 16 PL teams every season is to stay in the league, at all costs.

Half the C’ship clubs are desperate for promotion. The other half want to stay in that league, so a Cup run is a distraction. They all know they’re not going to win it, so why get caught up in something that will divert attention?
The last team from outside the top league to win the FA Cup were West Ham in 1980.

I’m sorry, but the once greatest Cup competition in the world isn’t what it was and it never will be again. ‘Ah’ some say ‘give the winners a place in the CL. That’ll get them interested again’. No it won’t. Only Portsmouth and Wigan have come from outside the big six to win it in the last 29 years - and in the vast majority of those seasons the winners were from the top 4. So you’re eating your time with that ‘incentive’.

I asked ‘was it worth it?’ for good reason. How many teams do we believe really wanted to play last weekend in this Covid season? My guess is probably only the two or three mentioned above. In my view - it was madness.

Surely our primary concern is to be able to continue to play football at all? Things are only going one way in the U.K. right now. No-one can behave, it seems (not just footballers) and that’s why the country is in such a mess.

Steve Bruce and David Moyes reckon it’s immoral to play on. Big Sam wants a circuit breaker. More will follow suit. But in the end it probably won’t matter.

How many of the guys did you see adhering to new Covid regulations on the pitch? Nope - nor me. As I write the PL are shifting fixtures around for the upcoming week. I’m afraid only chaos lies ahead. And I fear we’re not too far off from shutting down again.

It might be that would’ve happened anyway - but a bit like Celtic’s trip to Dubai last week - it was totally unnecessary. We were asking for trouble - and we’re going to get it.