Recollections and thoughts on this famous competition from across the whole spectrum of the game, from well-known commentators to unsung heroes.
Every day this month, having started on June 1st 2020, a new set of exclusive FA Cup memories are being published via this FACupFactfile blog, and today is the turn of a highly regarded blogger who covers football wherever it may be.
SERIES TWO, No. 6
Connection to the world of Football: Blogger, Photographer, North Berkshire League committeeman, and groundhop organiser with GroundhopUK.
First memory of the FA Cup: Laurence says, “The 1979 final, Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United. I watched it on TV, but very nearly didn’t! My sport-phobic mother organised the family to visit my equally sport-phobic grandmother, during the final. But Dad insisted so we watched in on her TV, while the women fumed…”
Favourite memory of the FA Cup: Laurence says, “In recent years, my team Oxford United, then in League 2, beating then Premier League Swansea City 3-2. The score doesn’t do us justice, we played them off the park.
But that’s a game in microcosm. There have been so many others including.
Paul Merson then Walsall manager in 2001 watching a thunderous local derby at Stag Meadow to see who his side would play in the first round. Slough Town beat Windsor & Eton but Merson looked lost, he was so clearly out of his comfort zone- Slough beat his team 2-1 in the first round.
Attending the 2017 FA Cup Final representing the North Berkshire League, Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1, in the shadow of the Manchester bombing. Watching fans shake the armed police officers’ hands was life affirming stuff. We ended up buying so many programmes for friends and family I had trouble carrying all of them home!
Attending the restaging of the first final in 1872, 140 years later at the Oval. Like then The Wanderers played the Royal Engineers, and David Gold was a good sport in letting the second FA Cup (1896-1910) be presented to the winners.”
Last FA Cup match attended: Laurence says, “Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Southampton 5/2/2020 4th Round replay. A chance to visit Spurs new stadium. It was an ‘other-worldly’ experience, but all the raw human emotions were there still.”
Thoughts on the future of the FA Cup: Laurence says, “The cup will survive while football people care enough about it. These days I tend to watch more of the qualifying rounds than the first round onwards. I do sometimes feel the competition actually gets less interesting the longer it goes on. I think any football fan ought to watch an extra preliminary round game, its good for your footballing soul!! But when the money men get involved you get the discounted games, the reduced sized programmes, and the weakened teams.
I’m fortunate to see enough of the local FA’s to know the competition has a future, but they’re football people and I do worry about how much the money men of the Premier League, divorced from the realities of anything below their little world think, and scheme.“
My sincerest thanks to Laurence for sharing his memories of the FA Cup. Laurence just loves watching football and is as passionate about the obscure clubs as he is about the more well-known ones. I highly recommend following him on Twitter and reading the excellent blogs he writes about football, wherever it may be.
Some Other Blogs in Series Two
Series 2 No. 1 – Jonathan Overend – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/06/01/fa-cup-memories-series-21-jonathan-overend/
Series 2 No. 5 – Marc Webber (BBC Final Score reporter) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/fa-cup-memories-series-25-marc-webber/
Series 2 No. 7 – Matt Badcock (Non League Paper editor-at-large) – https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/06/07/fa-cup-memories-series-27-matt-badcock/
Follow @FACupFactfile on Twitter for news of when the next exclusive FA Cup memories are published.