Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back: The 'magic' of the FA Cup

Telegraph Sport: where the debate really gets started

With John Laverty

They keep referring to the 'magic of the FA Cup.' The 'they' in question are of course the broadcasters.

The 'magic' in question is the minnows seeing off the big fish courtesy of what is known as a 'shock result.'

And yes, we used to get them, although, remarkably, the most lauded of these is still Hereford beating Newcastle 40-odd years ago.

Turning over a team that never wins any siverware, let alone the FA Cup, surely isn't that much of a shock. Is it?

No shock either that, when an FA Cup draw is made these days, the 'tie of the round' is invariably a big Premier League team versus... well, another big Premier League team.

For magic, read ratings.

But at least you could always rely on the showpiece final kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday... until recently.

Next month's Wembley decider – featuring two clubs from Greater Manchester, Wigan and Man City – will start at 5.15pm.

The last train back to Wigan leaves at 8.30pm – some 75 minutes after the final whistle, assuming no extra time.

The journey from Wembley tube station into town takes 33 minutes. Those travelling to Manchester have until 9pm to make the last train. But who cares about that?

After all, last year's final, the first to kick off at tea-time, attracted a bigger TV audience than the European Cup final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea a few days later. Result!

Genuine fans of City and Wigan can either drive, take a much longer bus journey or risk missing their trains.

Whatever happens, they'll have plenty of time to ponder the magic of the FA Cup.

Belfast Telegraph


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