Saturday, 30 May 2009
Does Anybody Outside of Everton and Chelsea Care?
In case you had forgotten, today is FA Cup Final day. The first one I properly remember was the 1969 Final between Manchester City and Leicester City. The game itself was pretty unremarkable but that Manchester City side were the last team to win the Cup with an all English side - except for West Ham in 1975 of course. I remember buying Shoot magazine on the day and cutting out a poster of David Nish which found its way onto my bedroom wall alongside Moore, Hurst, Peters, Sissons, Redknapp and Boyce. For the first time I was consciously caught up in the build up - all the excitement surrounding the TV coverage, with the journey from the hotel to Wembley, player interviews, the panel of experts and what not. I had stepped into the magical world of the football fan and for decades afterwards, the Cup held me in its spell.
But today? Today feels to me like one big yawn. Chelsea v Everton, it should be a major event, two near Titans of the game in head to head conflict, two clubs associated with gladiatorial approaches to the game, two clubs linked with style and culture through Kendall, Harvey, Ball, Osgood, Hudson and Cooke. But for all the "glamour" of the modern game, for all the big star billing of the Ballacks, Lampards and Drogbas, does anybody really feel any excitement about today, outside of the fan base of both clubs of course. It used to be so different, it used to be that everybody affiliated themselves with one of the two clubs and became a supporter for the day. In 69 I was a Leicester fan, because of the Nish poster and because, after being relegated in the same season, Leicester were the underdogs. Think back to the epic Chelsea v Leeds tussle - everybody in the country wanted the swanky West End individuals to overcome the grinding machine of Bastard United. In 73, the whole nation were wearing red and white stripes as Stokoe's Davids slayed the Revie Goliath. Great days, even though West Ham were not at the party.
But now? Now it is just another game. TV will make a half hearted attempt to pretend it is special but we all know differently. Strangely, even the Champions League Final felt like a side show this year; the FA Cup Final is like a Punch and Judy booth, quaint and irrelevant, tucked away at the end of the pier of a long season. It is a shame but by playing the semifinals at Wembley, by tolerating understrength teams in the earlier rounds, because of saturation TV coverage of football, due to the dominance of the big 4 and because the Cup Winners Cup was abolished, the once great FA Cup has been tarnished to the point where it almost feels embarrassing. Not that old thing Mum? Why do you keep polishing in? Why not put it up in the loft and forget about it eh?
That isn't true for the Everton and Chelsea fans of course - they will enjoy their day out; but I bet even they will yearn for the Twin Towers and the magic of the old days even as they take their seats and await kickoff in the greatest side show the world has ever known!
For the record, I predict a Chelsea victory on penalties after a dour 0-0 or 1-1 game. In consequence, for the first time since 1969, I won't even be watching!
Posted by Hammersfan at 07:35