Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Up for the Cup?

With the First Round proper of the FA Cup this weekend, the lads reflect on the world's oldest cup competition, their own Cup memories, and their feelings towards it.

Attitude to the Cup...

Turls: I enjoy the FA Cup - up until the third round. I like feeling the passion felt by non-league clubs who constantly believe that a good cup-run could turn the club around.

Coalville Town, my local team, made it to the first round proper a few years back. It always amazes me that non-league clubs don't seem to care that an FA Cup run would add a lot of games onto your fixture list and they never have the resources to deal with it.

Lakes: Look at this weekend - Stourbridge vs. Walsall. It's draws like that which make me love the FA Cup.

I mean, at its essence, the FA Cup is a way for small clubs to make money, assert themselves, and rub up against the kind of clubs they can only dream of playing. And they have to do it the hard way - on merit - by winning lots of games.

Nobes: I hate to sound disrespectful, and I'll whisper it quietly, but I'm pretty ambivalent towards the competition.

I know it's a money spinner, and it's probably because we've a lousy record in the Cup, but I'm much more interested in how we do in the league and will always take league safety over a Cup run, for instance.

It's a distraction that many teams with small squads can ill afford, and I say this despite being a fan of one of those non-league clubs who could do with the cash.

From a Forest perspective, I'm not too bothered by it. In my football lifetime, we have never had a realistic chance of winning it and even a decent run seems pretty pointless when you're just waiting to get knocked out.

The only thing to get excited about is if we appear on TV - which never happens in the Cup.
And I hate ITV's coverage of the damned thing. ITV have made me despise the FA Cup.


I think it's a beautiful competition and I absolutely love it and everything it stands for. Agree about ITV though.


Memories of own club...

Beating Manchester City 3-0 at Eastlands is the highlight. I know that this is a short sighted highlight, and if I was older I'm sure I'd have better "Best Moments" to hark back to, but during my football life Nottingham Forest have been woeful in the FA Cup.

Forest knocked out big-spending City last season

This victory meant a lot to me because it is a reverse of my worst moment. Man City were the multi-gazillionaires who were meant to turn over a Forest team who were without a manager.

We ran riot and made City look like provincial paupers who had taken a trip to the city. We showed them that you can buy talent but no amount of money can buy the history bestowed upon the mighty Tricky Trees.

Nobes: Our cup record is dreadful, but we did reach the third round in 2005. Having dispatched of non-league Hornchurch and Hereford, in came the big boys for the next round and we drew United away!

No, not Manchester United. Not Leeds or Newcastle, not even Sheffield. No, we drew Hartlepool United away. It was a huge anti-climax, made even worse by the fact that after a terrific 0-0 draw away at their place, we lost the replay on home soil.

All of which meant we missed out on a tie against glamorous West London opponents. Well, Brentford actually.

Lakes: We usually do ok in the FA Cup. We have a bizarre ability of getting to the fifth round, drawing Premier League opposition, and losing - Middlesbrough, Manchester City, Portsmouth, and Liverpool all in recent seasons.

I also remember us going 2-0 up against Arsenal at half time on year. I watched it on Teletext - think it was Kurt Nogan who did the magic tricks on the night. Shame we lost 4-2.

We're one of those sides with a rich glorious heritage in the competition with seven finals and two wins, but no chance of winning it in the modern era, like Forest.

A cup run is as much a distraction as anything though. However, get into the quarters and suddenly it becomes exciting - cup fever grips you and you think, "If only we can make it to the Final."

Look at Millwall vs. Manchester United a few years back. Didn't they get into Europe or something ridiculous as a result of being runners-up?

Nobes: I think they did, yes. Although I'm not sure that rule applies any more, as Cardiff weren't similarly rewarded when they got to the final and lost last year.

Turls: My worst moment has to be losing 3-0 to Chester City. Dismal, atrocious, heart-wrenching.

This was the year that I was full of confidence. Promotion was bound to be on the horizon and the FA Cup gods had thrown us a relatively simple tie. What followed was a pitiful performance that shamed every Forest fan.

Losing to a club in a league below us was bad but the fact that they went down without a whimper made it worse.

Favourite memories...

Lakes: As much as it sickens me to say it, the showpiece 2006 final between Liverpool and West Ham United showed that the FA Cup is not a competition nobody wants to win.

It was a game with character, flair, and determination - and it's probably one of the most entertaining football matches I've ever seen. I hate both teams, but couldn't helpo but be captivated.

Turls: For me it's the Coalville Town Road to Wembley - which ultimately ended at Wycombe. This is the one reason that I still have an ounce of time for the FA Cup.

The Ravens went from the FA Cup preliminary rounds to the first round proper. It took them eight games to get to that stage.

Daventry - pasted. Gedling Town - destroyed. Deeping Rangers - beaten. Rushall - done. Liversedge - slapped aside. They played in some epic battles and had some mighty scares.

And I was there, wait, no I wasn't. I was chasing the capitalist dream and was working at George's Traditions Fish & Chip Shop/Restaurant - and if that's not a free plug I don't know what is.

The fact that I missed every single game of that mighty cup run still haunts me to this day. Either way, seeing a picture of Adam Stevens kneeling outside someone's door praying to the gods on the front page of the Coalville Times always makes me smile.

For the record, the reason he was kneeling outside someone's door is because he is a postman and the reason he was praying is because he was - and probably still is - a Catholic. I believe the headlines was "Letters Pray."

I'm wracking my brains trying to think of anything that compares to that, certainly not on the local newspaper pun stakes.

I can think of very few genuinely exciting and great Cup games I've seen over the years. Barring the 3-3 draw between Liverpool and West Ham which Lakes mentioned, the Final is always a huge disappointment.

Wycombe beat Premier League Leciester on their way to the 2001 Cup semis

Wycombe's run to the semi final and some epic performances from Tranmere getting to the quarters stand out. The 2008 competition was refreshing too with three Championship sides in Cardiff, West Brom, and Barnsley getting to the semis.

Lakes: Yes, Tranmere Rovers beating Southampton 4-3 was a stonker, too. Was that 2001? What a comeback. I think that kind of result typifies the FA Cup for me: a chance for sides to have a real go at the big boys and prove themselves on a level playing field.

It really is a great leveller:
Manchester United 0 Exeter 0 was a good example of that.

Big sides never seem to learn about complacency - and it's always hilarious to watch them struggle against the "less pure" footballing sides, and to see big name managers caught out by underestimating the opposition.

And this week's Big Match Preview features the FA Cup first round tie between Stourbridge and Walsall.

No comments:

Post a Comment