David Hannant: Why City winning the FA Cup would mean more to me than survival

PUBLISHED: 17:38 11 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:38 11 March 2020

A happy young Norwich fan holds a tinfoil trophy aloft at the end of City's FA Cup fifth round triumph at Tottenham 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

A happy young Norwich fan holds a tinfoil trophy aloft at the end of City's FA Cup fifth round triumph at Tottenham Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

I turn 33 years old this year. In my time I’ve been lucky enough to see my beloved Canaries win three league titles, five seasons end in promotion and countless memorable performances against football’s big boys.

However, my relationship with the FA Cup has been somewhat devoid of any joy.

My first game was that bizarre 5-4 home defeat to Southampton in the 1993/94 season and my earliest memories of City are all embedded in this season. I don't remember the Uefa Cup run first hand, although the VHS season review has it cemented in my memory as if I do.

Therefore, I can honestly say that in my living memory City and the FA Cup have gone together like a fish and a bicycle.

As a consequence of this, I've never really been too keen on it.

Coupled with the anti-revolution set in motion by Sir Alex Ferguson which leads to it being treated as a dirty bit on the side by even middly-sized clubs and I've almost turned into something of a naysayer. For too long I've always been in the camp of, 'well, a cup run would have been nice but after all the league is the priority'.

However, watching that terrific win at Spurs I realised something: I want City to win the FA Cup this season more than anything.

Obviously being greedy, in an ideal world we would see City win the cup and stay in the league.

And also obviously, in the real world, chances are neither of these things would happen.

What I can say though, is in my heart of hearts I know exactly which thing I would rather City have to show for come May.

At the start of the season, I wasn't even considering relegation and as far as the FA Cup goes, I didn't really set any goals in my head.

But now, with City in their first quarter-final since 1992 and in a precarious position in the league, a cup triumph is at the very, very top of my wishlist.

With all the vast riches of the Premier League, of course many fans will call me mad for thinking this way - after all, England's top flight is where everybody wants to be, and rightfully so.

However, picture a scenario where City crash out of the cup at home to Manchester United then go on to finish in 17th place.

Yes, turning around a six-point gap with nine games to play would be an achievement, but how would history remember it?

In the weeks afterwards, it may well be remembered as one of the great escapes, particularly in these parts.

But once August rolls around, it would just be another season, all bets off and we move on. And then picture 10 years down the line or so. Would you safely be able to say that you can quote the year City were six points adrift and didn't get relegated? I'd say it's a pretty safe the answer would be a big fat no.

On the other hand, if City go on and get their paws on football's oldest cup competition, to pinch a phrase from Chris Goreham, 2020 would be written in Norwich City folklore in permanent ink.

It would be history - a first for the club and something that City fans far and wide can cling to forever. We could even put a star on our shirts for it... or maybe not.

While this hasn't been the best season for any Norwich City fan, the sheer level of emotion that Spurs penalty shoot-out created shows to me that the magic of the cup does still exist.

Even though I wasn't one of the lucky 9,000 to be there, my heart was racing at a mile a minute and when Tim Krul saved that final penalty; it was truly a big adrenaline rush.

For a tournament that so many clubs treat as second priority, it would still be up there with the most memorable moments of my life to see City lift the trophy at Wembley.

It goes without saying that there are no actual circumstances where we can choose between the two - staying up and winning the cup - but I know where my heart lies.

Were we a Manchester United or a Liverpool, with trophy cabinets already bulging, Premier League survival would be the top priority.

However, there is a generation of City fans who have never seen their beloved Canaries win a cup of any sort. I know what I'd prefer.

I'm not suggesting the league should be sacrificed, far from it, but at the same time it has reached the point for me that the cup exit would hurt as much as relegation - if not more.

And who knows, European football next season could well be enough to persuade any wantaway stars to stick around, should the season end in relegation.

It goes without saying any red-blooded Norwich City fan will want survival and the cup, but I for one have firmly decided which one sits at the very top of my 2020 wishlist - I'm up for the cup!

OTBC

HANDSHAKE NONSENSE

There is little escaping the dreaded 'C' word at the minute - no, not Christmas!

Clearly the coronavirus is a global issue that is placing its stamp on sporting events across the globe.

We've seen lots of different measures taken to try and limit its impact. However, one approach is particularly odd.

Before last week's fixtures players were ordered not to shake hands with one another ahead of the game.

A time-honoured tradition and symbol of sportsmanship stopped in the name of safety.

People will argue you can not be too careful, but when you're going to spend the next 90 minutes in close proximity to somebody, jostling at corners, marking your man, shaking hands with them before probably isn't going to be too much of an issue.

Add to this the fact that once the full-time whistle blows there will be handshakes and hugs anyway it just shows what utter tripe binning off the pre-match handshakes is.

How about we go the whole hog and replace kits with boiler suits and gas masks?

VILLA DEBATE

The way Aston Villa were rolled over away at Leicester just goes to show there is no real magic formula for a newly-promoted side.

I'm sick and tired of hearing Norwich City fans complain about how little the club spent in the summer - but just look at last year's play-off winners.

The Villans have spent well over £100m, but are just a few points better off than us.

This just goes to show that it is not about what you spend, it is about how you spend it.

Fair play to Sheffield United, who have clearly spent their money wisely. I would probably also argue they have been far more fortunate than City have as far as injuries go, which truly derailed the momentum carried with us from the title-winning season.

If come May both City and Aston Villa find themselves back in the Championship, I know whose position I would rather be in.

Given that now all three summer loan arrivals have made to the exit, it's clear recruitment wasn't as good as it has been, but at least the bank hasn't been broken.

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