The FA Cup is rightly heralded as a unique cup competition, steeped in history and sprinkled with more than a little magic.
Some of my earliest memories of watching football on TV were FA Cup finals.
There was always something different and magical about them.
All the build-up, following the teams from their hotels, the stories of success and failure, what links the players together, which records have been broken, all adding to the magic of the cup that was often much more alluring than the predictability of league competitions.
We’ve really enjoyed watching the FA Cup this year. The Football Association and the BBC have done a fantastic job of promoting and covering this season’s competition.
From the early rounds we’ve been hooked. Warrington beating Exeter, Blyth Spartans coming from behind to beat their local rivals Hartlepool United, before we even got to the introduction of the ‘big boys’ in round three.
The Sunday coverage has been brilliant too. A rolling summary of all the remaining games going on from each round. Getting updates and then actual footage of the goals as they happened. This was how we kept up to date on Worcester City’s progress passed Coventry City, and nearly passed Scunthorpe United.
We’ve been keeping more than an eye on it ever since.
Then the FA invited us to come to a semi-final.
|Max on Wembley Way|
As it ended up being the Arsenal versus Reading game I decided to send Max with his granddad rather than me. His granddad lived near Highbury in his childhood and grew up supporting The Gunners.
It was right that Max got to go to his first FA Cup semi-final and Arsenal game with his granddad.
|Newbold Senior & Junior on the Wembley Turf (nearly)|
As you can see they were lucky enough to get on the pitch before the game. Max got a wink from his new favourite player, Per Mertesaker, as the teams warmed up. And all in all they had a fantastic day out at Wembley.
Putting to bed any of the disappointment we had in recently going to watch our beloved Walsall Football Club at Wembley.
The FA Cup really does represent the best of professional English football as a viewing event and something to get involved in.
Even if you don’t support a team, or yours has been knocked out, it can still be very interesting and entertaining.
You can side with the underdog, edge your bets with the much more fancied side, or even follow the team that knocked yours out of the competition.
All stages of the competition have their charm and relevance. And I learned that the semi-finals were numbers 902, and 903 in a total of 904 FA Cup games this season.
And I have a feeling we are going to have to throw a party for the one remaining game this year!
|Max at the FA Cup Semi-Final 2015|