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The FA Cup

Our new football correspondent Rex Mitchell takes a look at the decline of the FA Cup

Sporting fixtures go up and down in prestige and popularity. None more so than the FA Cup. It was once the jewel of the sporting calendar, the last game of the season, and one of a handful of televised games. The proliferation of televised games is a significant reason for its decline. With modern football, explanations always start and end with money and filthy lucre means the Premier and Champions Leagues.

The Racing Post has spot on analysts for those that like a flutter. In their review of FA Cup potential winners, they eliminated club still in the Champions League, those that needed to survive which left 3 teams: Liverpool. Newcastle and Southampton. Spurs were not considered as they thought they would lose to Arsenal, which they did. Everton were not reckoned, as they have Champions League aspirations. It’s incredible that you have such a famous competition that only 3 top flight teams really want to win.

I was at Fulham v West Ham in the week. After the game I had a drink with Alan Tanner and some supporters. It’s always valuable speaking to the fans. Alan had gone to Norwich in the Premier, none to the same club in the Cup. I said surely, as Fulham could never win the Premier league, a smaller pot – the FA or Capital Cup – would give the fans a lift, but all of them only wanted Fulham to rest players which they did. In the programme arguably Fulham ‘s greatest game against West Ham was featured. Alan rated it higher then the Europa League final  as it was the longest journey made to the Cup Final, every win was achieved away from home – and Fulham were a second tier side. At the heart of the Fulham defence were Alan Mullery and Bobby Moore. Bobby Moore was slow, not that commanding in the air, but he had two wonderful attributes: excellent positional sense and the best passer out of defence, short or long, I ever saw. Although Fulham lost, it was a fitting swan song for Bobby Moore.