Let’s hope FA Cup casts its spell again

The Notts County owner says the FA Cup is the great­est foot­ball com­pe­ti­tion in the world

Nottingham Post - - SPORT - THE ALAN HARDY COL­UMN

THIS week­end we take a break from the league to play in the FA Cup, which in my mind is the great­est com­pe­ti­tion in the world - and that in­cludes the Cham­pi­ons League.

Whether you are a non-league club look­ing for a fa­mous scalp or a league team wait­ing for that plum third-round draw, dreams can un­doubt­edly come true.

We had our own fan­tas­tic run last sea­son and we would cer­tainly love an­other jour­ney in the hope we could en­joy a mag­i­cal day out at one of the coun­try’s big­gest clubs.

Our as­sign­ment is a tough one, though, as we face a Barns­ley team cur­rently at the top end of League One. On pa­per, it looks an in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult propo­si­tion.

But I am in­stantly taken back to last sea­son, when we played Bris­tol Rovers here at Meadow Lane.

We pro­duced one of the best per­for­mances of the cam­paign, if not the best.

Rovers were 2-0 up be­fore 15 min­utes had even passed and I don’t think many peo­ple in­side the sta­dium would have fan­cied our chances at that stage.

But we ab­so­lutely roared back to make it 4-2 by the end, and, this is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion, it could have been six or seven.

We showed tremen­dous spirit, char­ac­ter and qual­ity to win that game and we would dearly love a re­peat at Oak­well to­day.

I have to say, the draw wasn’t par­tic­u­larly kind to us, which merely sums up our luck at this present time.

Eighty teams play in the first round and out of all the clubs we could have drawn, we were paired with a side who are fourth in League One.

With no Cham­pi­onship sides in the cup un­til the third round, there are only three teams ranked higher than Barns­ley at this stage.

It un­der­lines the size of the task fac­ing us, but this com­pe­ti­tion has the ca­pac­ity to shock, as we proved last sea­son when we beat Cham­pi­onship side Brent­ford on their own patch.

The fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives are huge and while you earn prize money as you progress through the com­pe­ti­tion’s stages, it’s the TV money that makes the big dif­fer­ence.

If you do man­age to se­cure a dream tie away at Manch­ester United, Arse­nal or Liver­pool in the third round or be­yond, you keep 45 per­cent of the gate re­ceipts.

The re­wards are ab­so­lutely ex­tra­or­di­nary.

I read some­where that Lin­coln City’s fa­mous quar­ter-fi­nal against Arse­nal earned them £2m, which is an in­cred­i­ble amount.

The money has since helped them build a new train­ing fa­cil­ity and in­vest sig­nif­i­cantly in the play­ing squad, so it just goes to show what this com­pe­ti­tion can do for your balance sheets.

Hope­fully we can en­joy sim­i­lar suc­cess al­though, given Barns­ley’s qual­ity, I ex­pect us to have our backs against the wall for large spells of the game.

A draw would be a fan­tas­tic re­sult but a win would be even bet­ter for us.

With a mag­nif­i­cent trav­el­ling sup­port be­hind us, let’s hope the magic of the FA Cup casts its spell on us once again.

Ryan Yates, on loan from Not­ting­ham For­est scored twice in Notts County’s 4-2 FA Cup vic­tory over Bris­tol Rovers

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