Magic no longer enough for FA Cup
THERE it was as clear as clear could be, as real as life itself – the magic of the FA Cup, staring us in the face, in glorious colour on the BBC.
Sunday provided us with one of those classic stories of giant-killing. Little League Two Newport County taking down the Premier League champions of just a couple of years ago, Leicester City.
Bright lights, a story for the ages, it even had an Irish angle with the game’s winning goal coming courtesy of Carlow man Pádraig Amond. We can only imagine – actually we can’t really imagine it at all – the nerves he must have been going through as he stepped up to take the spot-kick in front of Danny Ward.
After the match the Newport fans, in rhapsody, took it on themselves to have a little fun with Gary Lineker, the former Leicester striker and the Beeb’s anchor.
“What’s the score, Gary, what’s the score,” they chanted when they spied him on a balcony.
With a knowing, winking nod to their reverie, Lineker shouted back enthusiastically, “2-1”. Lineker’s response was pitch perfect. In itself it was one of those great FA Cup moments.
If anybody could appreciate a giant-killing and a fairytale it’s got to be a fan of the biggest giant killers world sport has seen for the last twenty years. It’s important too to point out that this wasn’t some sort of make-shift Leicester side. Claude Puel made changes yes, but this was still a pretty strong side. More than good enough, on paper, to win the game.
Still, even accounting for the miracle of Newport, the weekend’s football felt more than a little flat. Contrast the vast majority of the third round fixtures – Manchester 7 Rotherham 0 – with a regular round of the Premier League and there’s just no comparison. It felt to a lot of us like an unwelcome intrusion on a compelling title race.
The magic of the Cup is still there, just about, but in the twenty-first century magic is no longer enough to grab our attention.
The blockbuster rules all.