So, romance is not dead

PUBLISHED: 14:04 15 March 2008 | UPDATED: 15:27 10 September 2010

Kathy Blake, NCISA

WHEN I was a little girl the FA Cup final, together with the Queen's speech, were just about the only occasions in our house when the whole family used to forget everything else and sit round the telly.

WHEN I was a little girl the FA Cup final, together with the Queen's speech, were just about the only occasions in our house when the whole family used to forget everything else and sit round the telly.

The cup final was a magical day and we used to watch the programme from start to finish although in those days the pre-match stuff seldom amounted to more than one hour before kick-off. I longed for the day when I could be there myself and watch Norwich City in the final.

But I'm afraid to say that this magic has died for me over the past 20 years. Maybe it is to do with the commercialisation of the trophy, the advent of sponsors, the arrogant attitude of some of the so called big clubs in fielding weakened sides in the competition, or just that everyone has a pretty good idea these days that the final will comprise one or two of four clubs. Not since the late 1980s when Wimbledon and Coventry won the trophy, has it captured my imagination. But this season all this has changed. Exactly why this has happened I'm not really sure. It's tempting to say the Premier League is not all it is cracked up to be. But that is clearly not the case when you look at the last eight in the Champions League. I wonder perhaps if it is more likely to do with the type of player top flight football is attracting. A lot of them know very little about the FA Cup and its traditions. In other countries, knockout cup competitions are not held in any where near such high esteem as ours is. In Spain, for example, it is common for gates of four figures to turn up for cup games, especially if the fixture isn't being contested by any of the top clubs.

Our TV channels seem more interested in foreign cup competitions than those who actually live there. I know you shouldn't generalise but another factor may be that a lot of the overseas players seem high on skill but low on endeavour and fighting qualities, essential in the FA Cup.

It is therefore with great delight that I announce that this year I am going to plonk myself down in front of the telly with a nice bottle of wine and watch the whole thing from start to finish. I don't really mind who wins because in my opinion football has. It's been a wonderful year. From round one there have been a whole host of giant killings. Well done to Forest Green, Huddersfield, Oldham, Chasetown, Coventry, Bury (ahem), Bristol Rovers and especially Havant and Waterlooville.

Oh, and another pleasant thought has just occurred to me. That great big lump of seating halfway along and halfway up the north stand at Wembley which has never actually been occupied between the 30th and 65th minute of any game is likely to be full of real football fans.

Bring on May 17.

V Closer to home NCISA will be holding a fans' forum with Glenn Roeder on Monday, at 7.30 pm in The Business. All fans welcome. NCISA members free, others £2. Afterwards, John and I will be pleased to meet fans as will the rest of the committee. Come and tell us what you think about NCISA. We look forward to hearing your comments and if there is anything you would like to see us doing for fans that we are not at the moment then please let us know. Our new website co-ordinator David Maidstone will also be there and he would welcome your ideas and suggestions about the site.

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