This is the ninth in the first series of exclusive FA Cup Memories from all across the football spectrum.
Every day, having started on May 1st 2020, a new set of FA Cup memories are being published via this FACupFactfile blog, and today is the turn of well-known football presenter and touchline reporter for Sky Sports.
SERIES ONE, No. 9
Connection to the world of Football: Football Presenter and touchline reporter, Sky.
Geoff, centre, with Andy Gray and Richard Keys
First memory of the FA Cup: Geoff says, “Going to my Uncle’s down the road because he had a colour TV. Sunderland v Leeds final.”
That Sunderland versus Leeds United FA Cup Final does seem to be the one that many people of a certain generation remember as being their first experience of the FA Cup.
Favourite memory of the FA Cup: Geoff says, “As a kid the all day build up including ‘It’s a Cup final Knockout’.
So many fabulous memories as a reporter when Sky covered it including getting Hasselbaink and Gudjohnsen to ride a tandem, going to Boston to interview Kevin Costner, mocking up the opening theme to The Persuaders with Ray Wilkins and Dennis Wise when they were at Millwall, making a sensational piece with two helicopters taking the cup to Cardiff for the first final at The Millennium Stadium.
Most of all though very proud to be the person who thought of, proposed to The FA and got accepted the Cup being engraved on the day, just like The Masters. Introduced for the Liverpool versus Arsenal Final at the Millennium Stadium in 2001. Now happens every year.”
Absolutely brilliant set of memories of the FA Cup there for Geoff. The memories as a kid, many of us can recall and relate to, but all the excellent player shenanigans organised whilst working on covering the FA Cup with Sky are very personal to Geoff.
And who wouldn’t want to be able to say they had started an FA Cup tradition? What a fantastic thing to have been responsible for. That Liverpool – Arsenal FA Cup Final, the first to be played in Wales, was the third Final contested by the two clubs, with Arsenal having won both previous Finals.
And when Freddie Ljungberg netted in the 72nd minute, it looked as if the Gunners were on their way to become the first club to beat the same opponents in three separate FA Cup Finals. But up stepped Michael Owen to the rescue with a late double to secure the Cup for Liverpool.
I just hope the engraver hadn’t started his job too soon!
Last FA Cup match attended: Geoff says, “Genuinely don’t know. So many great times covering 1st rounds too, clubs I wouldn’t normally go to.”
When you cover as much football as a Sky reporter does, it must be hard to keep track of milestones such as last time you did something, especially if at the time you didn’t necessarily know it would be the last time.
First Round of the FA Cup can be as special as the 3rd Round in my opinion. Quite often there are many non-league clubs who have never gone as far as the ‘Proper’ Rounds before. And there is always a former top-flight giant in the mix that all non-league clubs hope to draw either home or away.
Many long-established Football League clubs have been humbled by much smaller non-league clubs in past 1st Round ties – Brighton and Hove Albion against Sudbury Town, and Queens Park Rangers against Vauxhall Motors to name but two.
Thoughts on the future of the FA Cup: Geoff says, “I worry for it just like everyone else because managers prioritise other competitions over it. There are no easy answers to safeguard its future but I do hope it can flourish as much as possible.”
I echo Geoff’s concerns. It would be a travesty if the FA Cup was allowed to disappear because it wasn’t considered to be as important as other competitions.
Thanks very much to Geoff for taking the time to write up his FA Cup recollections and thoughts, it is very much appreciated.
No. 10 in this FA Cup Memories series, the recollections from a high quality Photo-blogger, writer, and publisher, specialising in non-League and amateur football, can be read by clicking on this link: https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/10/fa-cup-memories-series-110-david-bauckham/
No. 8 in this FA Cup Memories series, the recollections from a former FIFA, Premier League, Football League and FA Cup Final Referee, can be read by clicking on this link: https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/08/fa-cup-memories-series-18-keith-hackett/
You can read this exclusive FA Cup Memories series from where it all started with BBC 5 Live Commentator John Murray by clicking on this link: https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/fa-cup-memories-series-11-john-murray/
Follow @FACupFactfile on Twitter for news of when future memories are published.