Welcome to the first in an exclusive series of FA Cup Memories from all across the football spectrum.
Personal recollections of the FA Cup have been written by ex-pro footballers, match commentators, sports writers, non-league and regional media producers, club owners, non-league players, volunteers and managers, and football fans across the country, all with fond memories of this famous competition, and all designed to hopefully bring a smile to faces during these unprecedented times.
Every day from May 1st, 2020, a new set of FA Cup memories will be published via this FACupFactfile blog and I’m proud to say it all kicks off with one of the most recognisable voices in the world of Football
SERIES ONE, No. 1
Connection to the world of Football: BBC Football Correspondent
“John Murray ahead of 2019 FA Cup Final”
In truth, John is so much more than a ‘BBC Football Correspondent’. He is the incomparable, distinct voice of radio commentary, known not just for his excellent descriptions of the action on the pitch, but also for his understanding and insight into the game itself. Someone once quipped to me that if John Murray said something was the case then that was the equivalent to hearing a Papal Bull.
First memory of the FA Cup: John says, “I am pretty sure it was the 1973 Final. Unless my mind is fooling me I have memories of both ‘73 and ‘74, because I was brought up in the North East of England and both featured teams from my part of the world. My memories of ‘73 feature Jimmy Montgomery and Bob Stokoe, and my Uncle Ian sitting watching it with us, sitting on a little stool and wearing a trilby hat that was not unlike the one Stokoe was wearing.”
It’s wonderful to read this memory, especially the reference to the trilby hat, but in particular the blurring of lines across two seasons. I have similar blurred memory lines between the 1972 and 1973 finals. As a Leeds United fan I know I saw both Finals, but the 1973 one is more concrete in my memory, probably because this Final is more likely to be played during TV coverage whenever the FA Cup comes around.
The two successive Finals John recollects couldn’t be more different. The 1973 Final is the epitome of what those ‘romantics’ who love the FA Cup want, a wonderful giant killing story. And 1973 delivered that in spades as a mid-table second tier club slayed what was regarded at the time as the biggest giant in English football.
By contrast the 1974 Final was a perfect example of a complete performance by a top class team, from a club on the verge of dominating English football for the next 15 years or so.
Favourite memory of the FA Cup: John says, “So many, but I would pick out Shrewsbury knocking out Everton which was one of the first big upsets I commentated on. I have been fortunate since then to have witnessed many giant-killings. They are the essence of the FA Cup. I always say now that on any day of FA Cup football, you are more likely to go to a match that goes the way of the bigger club. People at those matches will often say, ‘oh the cup’s not what it was’. If you happen to be at a proper upset though, they are still magical occasions.”
I remember that Shrewsbury Town giant-killing very well. A fourth tier side, not only beating a Premier League club, but outplaying them on the day too. Nigel Jemson scored both the goals for the Shropshire side who were managed, as FA Cup lore dictates, by Everton’s most successful former captain, Kevin Ratcliffe.
Last FA Cup match attended: Derby 0 Manchester United 3 in the 5th round in March 2020.
John says, “The memory is of seeing Wayne Rooney play again against Manchester United and very nearly score with a late free kick which was kept out by Sergio Romero’s flying save. I was dead against switching the 5th round to a midweek, but there were over 31 thousand there, the atmosphere was excellent and I remember thinking on reflection that it actually worked quite well and gives the 5th round a unique selling point.”
I have been vehemently against FA Cup games being played mid-week and without replays, but this game showed that it could work in terms of atmosphere and fan involvement, although this was not the case everywhere that week. This particular match had the feel of a mid-week replay, despite it being the first meeting, probably because we’re not used to FA Cup mid-week matches being anything other than replays. The Wayne Rooney factor, I’m sure, gave it added appeal and boosted the crowd numbers.
Thoughts on the future of the FA Cup: John says, “What I think would be of a great help to the standing of the competition is if clubs could find a way to ensure grounds are full for FA Cup ties, by whatever means they can. What is particularly damaging is when you turn up for an FA Cup match and the ground is half full; then it feels such a poor relation to the other big competitions.”
I believe this is certainly true. Attendances on the whole at FA Cup matches, especially in the earlier rounds, are diminishing. The lack of importance of the competition by some club owners can filter down to their managers and eventually through to the fans, not helped by several clubs fielding non-regular first team players. Games where attendances have remained high, and often packed to the rafters, are those that pit lower level sides against top flight clubs.
“John Murray ahead of 2018 FA Cup Final”
I wish to express my sincere thanks to John for taking the time to provide his great personal experiences of the FA Cup, especially for agreeing to be the first contributor of the series. I can highly recommend listening to John’s commentary on the radio whenever you can.
Do return daily to read the vast array of FA Cup memories as they build up.
No. 2 Mark Carruthers (North East Football Journalist) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/02/fa-cup-memories-series-12-mark-carruthers/
No. 3 Chris Waddle (Ex Top-flight Footballer) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/fa-cup-memories-series-13-chris-waddle/
No. 4 Tony Incenzo (Mr Non-League) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/04/fa-cup-memories-series-14-tony-incenzo/
No. 5 Henry Winter (Chief Football Writer at The Times) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/05/fa-cup-memories-series-15-henry-winter/
No. 6 John Nicholson (Football Book Author) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/06/fa-cup-memories-series-16-john-nicholson/
No. 7 Sam Matterface (TV Football Commenttor) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/07/fa-cup-memories-series-17-sam-matterface/
No. 8 Keith Hackett (Ex Top-flight Referee) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/08/fa-cup-memories-series-18-keith-hackett/
No. 9 Geoff Shreeves (TV Football Reporter) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/09/fa-cup-memories-series-19-geoff-shreeves/
No. 10 David Bauckham (Football Photographer) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/10/fa-cup-memories-series-110-david-bauckham/
No. 11 Eilidh Barbour (BBC Football Reporter) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/11/fa-cup-memories-series-111-eilidh-barbour/
No. 12 Jeremy Jacobs (Margate Town fan and volunteer) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/12/fa-cup-memories-series-112-jeremy-jacobs/
No. 13 Steve Wilson (BBC Matchday Commentator) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/13/fa-cup-memories-series-113-steve-wilson/
No. 14 Lin McKechnie (Portland United Programme Editor) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/14/fa-cup-memories-series-114-lin-mckechnie/
No. 15 Becky Ives (TV Football Reporter) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/fa-cup-memories-series-115-becky-ives/
No. 16 Rob Worrall (Hampshire Local Radio Reporter) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/16/fa-cup-memories-series-116-rob-worrall/
No. 17 Mark Pougatch (TV Sports Presenter) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/17/fa-cup-memories-series-117-mark-pougatch/
No. 18 Ian Townsend (Isthmian League Social Media) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/18/fa-cup-memories-series-118-ian-townsend/
No. 19 – Dave Anderson (FA Vase Winning Manager) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/19/fa-cup-memories-series-119-dave-anderson/
No. 20 – Victoria Polley (BBC Essex Football Commentator) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/20/fa-cup-memories-series-120-victoria-polley/
No. 21 – Nige Tassell (Football Book Author) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/21/fa-cup-memories-series-121-nige-tassell/
No. 22 – Graham Smyth (Yorkshire Post Chief Football Writer) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/fa-cup-memories-series-122-graham-smyth/
No. 23 – Ian Dennis (BBC Radio Sports Presenter) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/23/fa-cup-memories-series-123-ian-dennis/
No. 24 – Micky Hazard (Ex FA Cup Winning Footballer) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/24/fa-cup-memories-series-124-micky-hazard/
Follow @FACupFactfile on Twitter for news of when that and future memories are published.