As the players, staff and fans of Manchester City and Wigan Athletic eagerly prepare for today’s FA Cup Final, I take a look at why the FA Cup has lost it’s former spice. Wembley Stadium hosts the 132nd Cup Final today but over the years, the competition has become more and more devalued. The simple reason behind this demise is the Football Association (FA) themselves. Over the past few years, the FA have pumped money into the competition attempting to get even more money out of the competition. Unfortunately for them, and us, the investment has not quite had the desired effect. In fact, it has very much had the opposite effect.
Some of my older readers will know that Cup Final Day was pretty much a National holiday with fans of all teams sitting down at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon to watch the last domestic game of the season. Today’s Cup Final will be played at 5:15pm (UK time) and will not be broadcasted on the BBC channel. ITV and ESPN will be showing the game for one simple reason. They pay more for the game and companies can use the advertising breaks for their benefit.
Instead of harping on about the demise of modern football, this article will look back at five FA Cup Finals that have some sort of significance to me. As a Spurs fan, obviously all five ended in Spurs wins but my favourite non-Spurs Cup Final has to be the Steven Gerrard show. With Liverpool 2-1 and 3-2 down at the Millennium Stadium versus West Ham, Stevie G released two thunderbolts to take the game to penalties, where Liverpool eventually won.
5) 1901 – This Cup Final is special for two reasons. First, it was Spurs’ first FA Cup success. Second, the Cup was pretty much single handedly won by a certain Spurs legend – Sandy Brown. The Cup Final replay took place after an initial 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace. In the second game, Spurs came back from one goal behind to win 3-1.
4) 1991 – An FA Cup dominated by our semi-final win over arch rivals Arsenal ended in our most recent FA Cup success over Nottingham Forest in a low scoring 2-1 final. After Paul Gascoigne’s wondrous free kick versus the Gunners, Gary Mabbutt led out Spurs at Wembley to win our eighth FA Cup.
3) 1982 – This victory may not be the most famous win in our history, but it had huge significance. In our centenary year, we managed to return to Wembley for the second year in a row and lift the Cup in the second year of our existence. A solitary Glenn Hoddle penalty in the sixth minute was enough to win a replay after an initial 1-1 draw, with Hoddle scoring in the first game too.
2) 1981 – Another replay for Spurs. We’ve never been a team to do it the easy way have we? This replay, though, was perhaps the host of one of the most famous goals in Tottenham Hotspur history. If you haven’t got it yet, does this bring back any memories? “Still Ricky Villa, what a fantastic run. HE’S SCORED!” A superb 3-2 win over Manchester City with goals from Ricky Villa and Garth Crooks after coming back from 2-1 down. A great day in our history.
1) 1961 – This final is first on my list for one solitary reason. The double. We hear the Arsenal fans sing “61, never again!” as a mockery of our lack of League titles but they are right. What Bill Nicholson’s team achieved in the year of 1961 will never be done again. At least not in that fashion. After winning the League by eight points, Danny Blanchflower led our team out at Wembley and led the side to a clean sheet and a 2-0 victory over Leicester City.
So, there concludes my top 5 Spurs FA Cup Finals. We have enjoyed great success in the competition and I hope that returns soon.
But first, a good old fashioned Cup Final would be great today. On paper it looks a slight mismatch but then again, this is the FA Cup. We will never lose the upsets in this glorious competition. That will never change.
Prediction: Manchester City 4-0 Wigan. Aguero to net first. Enjoy the game!