Every season, without fail, TV and radio pundits pose the question; “Has the FA Cup lost its magic? ” The polite answer is quite clearly “No”. The football watching public have been fed this utter dribble ever since Manchester United withdrew from the 1999/2000 competition due to their participation in the FIFA Club World Championship in South America in early 2000.
Mind you, I could modify my answer to say that for those of us outside Billionaires Row the FA Cup is most definitely alive and kicking. I do not think that it is the world’s oldest cup competition that has lost it’s magic, it is top flight football that has become too sanitised, too business and television friendly.
Where once we marvelled at the antics and delirious celebrations of players and managers like Charlie George and Bob Stokoe now we watch on in anguish at the histrionics of modern players such as Robin Van Persie and Didier Drogba. Oh, how I would love to zap those two to the carnage of the Chelsea versus Leeds United final of 1970. Contempt is not a strong enough word. Can anyone actually imagine the likes of Van Persie against Chopper Harris, Billy Bremner or Norman ‘bite yer legs’ Hunter? Before anyone cries foul and cites that banning hard tackling is good on the grounds of player safety, there are more serious injuries in the game now than ever. An awful lot of these are caused by the wearing of flimsy boots but the football governing bodies will not ban those due to potential loss of advertising and endorsement revenue.
The true heroes of the FA Cup have always come from lower and non-league football. If you are not old enough to remember Ronnie Radford’s net busting worldy or Dickie Guy’s goal keeping heroics look them up on the internet; truly inspiring viewing.
Today’s match sees Newport Pagnell Town, ranked 1717 out of 3130 teams in FA Cup history face Holmer Green, ranked 2162. The Swans have met the Greens in the FA Cup just once before; a Preliminary Round tie in the 2004/05 season. The game was played away at Airedale Park with the Greens running out 2-1 winners. That win for Holmer was the only time they have made it beyond the Preliminary Rounds and represents the club’s best performance in the competition. Their record cup run was halted when they lost 1-0 away to Hendon in the 1st Qualifying Round. Newport’s best showing in the competition was in the 2008/09 season reaching the 2nd Qualifying Round, eventually losing 5-0 away to Ryman League side Fleet Town.
FA Cup records and statistics courtesy of facupfactfile.wordpress.com
Artwork courtesy of Bravo Sierra Designs
Originally published in ‘Swans Confidential’ the official matchday programme of Newport Pagnell Town Football Club
NPTFC 6-2 Holmer Green
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
15th August 2015
© Andy Gunn