10 Ways The Football Association Turned The FA Cup From Magic To Tragic
THE Football Association had a rude awakening earlier this year, when chairman Greg Dyke’s blueprint for English football was unceremoniously snubbed by the powerbrokers of the Premier League.
The FA may be sidelined and neutered, but they can’t take away its heritage. For the simple reason that the FA itself has been doing the job itself.
Nowhere is this more obvious than at the FA Cup Final – the jewel in the association’s crown.
Of course, the days are long gone when it was one of the few live televised games, shown simultaneously on BBC and ITV, and most of the population sat down to watch.
Nevertheless, the FA have done their best to destroy as many of its USPs as possible, and in the process they have turned this stately landmark of the sporting calendar into an event that resembles a less classy and prestigious version of the Championship play-off final.
At least this year they waited for the Premier League to finish before squeezing the match into the schedule, and kudos for playing on a Saturday for a change. But in doing so they moved it from the traditional 3pm kick-off to 5pm, and thus clashed with the infinitely more interesting La Liga climax in Barcelona.
How, then, did this year’s final stack up?
Once upon a time, fans congregated in the city and gawped at legendary sporting heroes.
Now they have their faces painted a la Alton Towers.
Once they sported boaters and idiosyncratic home-made toppers.
Now they favour bland shop-bought jester hats.
‘Abide With Me’ was once a genuinely moving communal experience…
Now it’s a turgid X-Factor power-ballad performed by a spray-tanned celebrity who can’t even sing in tune.
Where once we had stylish leather balls…
…this pink monstrosity now disgraces the field…
When fans invaded the pitch they did so with daring panache, like the legendary Eddie Cavanagh @ 1.10, and were rugby-tackled by plod-like coppers.
Now they have scuffles with ‘security’.
When players celebrated, they would hold the cup aloft at the top of the stairs…
…put it on their heads…
…and show it to their fans..
…who sang their hearts out.
Now they jiggle about like cystitis sufferers under a hideous arch that looks like a B&Q shop display…
…while streamers obscure them from the fans, whose singing is drowned out by the inane babble of the egomaniacal announcer and deafening blasts of bombastic stadium rock.
Even the Cup itself was new, albeit a perfect replica of the ‘iconic’ original.
Next year, the FA should go the whole hog, and plump for a design more in keeping with the competition’s 21st Century status…