It Used to be One of the Best Days of the Year

For about ten years of my life, this particular Friday, the second one in May, used to find me beside myself with excitement and anticipation.

At school, all of the talk – among the boys, at least – would be of the day to come, of what tomorrow would bring. Because tomorrow would be a day like no other in the year.

I am referring, of course, to the day before FA Cup Final day. If you were football mad and aged between about 7 and 14, the FA Cup Final was a day which you looked forward to throughout the year. It didn’t matter if your side was playing in it or not, because it was the only domestic football match shown live on television. For one glorious May afternoon, you could sit and watch football as it happened and in the comfort of your own home.

I loved it all. The build up in the press in the week before the game, the fact that ‘Grandstand’ would be only about one sport that day, the helicopter shots of the team bus approaching the grand old Wembley stadium. It was a novel and thrilling experience. There were three other live football matches shown during May, but none had the allure of the Cup Final.

I still remember my very first 0ne, watching Southampton beat Manchester United 1-0. Everyone who saw the game recalls the winning goal, scored by the late Bobby Stokes with eight minutes of the game left. I remember far more clearly the vivid yellow and blue kit that Southampton wore, a number of wonderful saves by their goalkeeper Ian Turner, and wondering – as the information was given by the commentator – how a man named Peter Rodrigues could be Welsh.

Of course, it has all gone now. There is so much live football on television that the unique appeal of the day is no longer there. Football as a spectacle has been destroyed by the preening prima donnas who play it, and even the FA Cup itself has been devalued to the point where the final is played on a regular Saturday in the calendar, rather than it being the only game of professional football played that day. I have happy memories of the day, and it saddens me that my son and others of his generation will not be able to look upon the day in the same way

About Richard

Just your less-than-average married father of one
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3 Responses to It Used to be One of the Best Days of the Year

  1. Jamie says:

    I remember that game – 1976 if I remember correctly. Quite a sentient year for me – the first Grand National I have clear memories of as well.

    I agree completely about the scheduling. It’s a disgrace that it’s on the same day as regular games, especially as United may well have had their 19th title win confirmed around half an hour beforehand – therebye taking some of the gloss off a Stoke victory.

    While our children won’t have the unique sense of occasion that we enjoyed, they will at least be able to watch football on a regular basis if they want to. I was never allowed to stay up for Match Of The Day, and we didn’t own a video either. Apart from the FA Cup, the only other football we saw was European when English teams were in action. This might explain why Liverpool is so much in our psyche – and also why their legend will start to fade if they don’t start winning trophies or championships. We have other teams to watch now.

  2. Jamie says:

    Well, we watched it. I’m almost scared about how little it meant to me. After watching the United game beforehand and the exciting Chelsea / Toon and Arsenal / Spurs games on Sunday, it was definitely the least interesting match of the weekend. A real shame.

  3. Jamie says:

    Sorry – Arsenal / Villa, of course…

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