Why I love the FA Cup

Last night non-league Blyth Spartans defeated Bournemouth 1-0 with an 89th minute winner from their 18-year-old substitute to set up a tie with Premier League side Blackburn Rovers.

It’s that kind of drama-you-couldn’t-make-up that makes me love the FA Cup (even if Exeter got knocked out to Curzon Ashton). It’s the chance for, cliched as it is, the postmen, the electricians, and the plumbers, the semi-professionals, to get their moment of glory.

And Blyth have pedigree, having reached the 5th round of the FA Cup back in 1978, and coming close to become the only non-league team to ever make it to the quarter-finals. You can read my Soccerlens piece on it here.

Also, Droyslden and Chesterfield are doing their best to revive the spirit of endless replays (them from the days before penalty shoot outs).

Having seen their original match abandoned due to fog, the teams then drew two-all in a bizarre game that saw Chesterfield allow their non-league opponents to equalise after Jack Lester scored a controversial goal. Then, last night, the floodlights failed at Droylsden [1] with the Spireites leading 2-0, so another replay is required.

Add Histon knocking out Leeds in the last round, and Barrow facing Middlesborough in the third round, and it’s clear just why the FA Cup is one of the greatest competitions in the world.

My favourite cup final is the 1990 three-all draw between Manchester United and Crystal Palace. Not because I have any great love for either of these teams, but because it was a pulsating affair that had you on the edge of your seats.

United went on to win the replay 1-0, with a rare goal from defender Lee Martin.

And no matter what people may have thought about last season’s cup final, it was great to see Portsmouth and Cardiff battle it out rather than any of the usual suspects. It’s why I can’t wait for January 3rd.

[1] There’s a lot of this kind of thing around at this time I year. I was at Dagenham on Saturday when the floodlights failed at half time. Frustrating, yes, as it was a good game of football. But given that Exeter were losing 1-0, it was absolutely freezing cold, there was driving rain, and the away end is uncovered, you’ll understand why I wasn’t horrendously upset to have to leave early.

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