Date:Wednesday February 27 2008
The Football Association Cup - Davpick
The FA Cup has always been special to English football supporters who expect their team to field its' strongest possible formation. After all it is the worlds leading Football Cup competition. However, it now seems that the FA Cup is secondary to winning the Premiership and then European competitions. Foreign managers in particular seem to see the FA Cup as important only if their team is not among the front runners of the Premiership, and even then some of the top managers don't seem to be bothered. I suppose we English can now regard Alex Ferguson as a foreign manager (he is now classed as 'Foreign'!!) given that he has followed the trend not to play his strongest team on occasion. Not forgetting also that Manchester United, in 1999, did not even enter the competition deeming it far more important to play in the World Club Championship Final. The FA then showed what weak-kneed individuals they really are by not taking any action against Manchester United. In my humble opinion Manchester United should then have been given a three to five year ban from the competition. This at least would have impressed upon their board that the FA Cup is important to the English game and 'you mess with us at your own peril'. I still wonder what effect a ban of this sort would have meant to Manchester United, especially if they had failed to qualify for European competitions by other means.
I personally, as a Blackpool fan who was lucky enough to attend the 1953 FA Cup final on that never to be forgotten day, am always exited when the Cup comes around. This, to me, is also a time when I think back to the date 28th April 1951. I was then a Post Office Messenger (Telegram Boy) aged 15 and was - soon after my 16th birthday in July - to go from push bikes to learn to drive a motor-cycle which the PO used in those days. I had a good friend called Arthur Ashcroft who, because he was the same age as me, was also going to learn with me. Some of you may now realise that 28th April 1951 was the day that Newcastle United beat Blackpool 2-0 in the FA Cup final at Wembley. I had finished work early that day but was working on Sunday morning at 09.00. When I got to work at the GPO in Abingdon Street on Sunday morning I was immediately struck by the silence and an atmosphere of gloom. I was told that Arthur had been going down Church Street towards Devonshire Square the evening before at about 5.40 when he was knocked off his bike when someone opened their car door; he had gone straight into a bus coming up the other side of the road. Arthur was rushed to Victoria Hospital with serious injuries and his parents were brought to the hospital. Unfortunately his injuries were too serious and he died whilst his parents were there. The last words he ever uttered were 'What do you think about Blackpool Dad?'
As I type this, even though it's nearly 57 years ago, tears are streaming down my face for the friend I lost. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I think of Arthur every year at FA Cup time.
That is just one reason why I think the FA Cup is important and should not be belittled by anyone.
Years ago teams were fined for not fielding their strongest sides but, of course, The Premiership holds the power in English football and it seems that they can do anything they like and the FA lean over backwards to accommodate them. Money is God now in football and the Premiership, along with SKY, is the supreme beings.
Don't you just wish that they could be knocked off their pedestal?
With no apologies,
Date:Wednesday February 27 2008
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