So first weekend of the New Year and if we flashed back circa 20 years ago, clubs, fans and the media would be getting themselves into a proper frenzy with regards the most romantic football weekend of the season, FA Cup 3rd round weekend.
So in 2014, we instead find the majority of clubs finding this great competition a hindrance in their already cluttered season, while your younger fans, the sky generation and certain sections of the media will struggle to understand why the older generation of fans find this dismissive attitude to the competition so alarming.
When I was growing up as a child in the 1980s the FA Cup really meant something, Cup Final Day was almost as exciting as Christmas Day! Sadly I was too young to remember our win in 1980, but the fact remains this is the last major thing we won as a club. As I grew older I soon realised West Ham would not ever win the league and as such the cups were our source of glory.
Now I know we support football clubs through thick and thin (plenty of thin for us) and you stick by them regardless, however, surely you support a club in the hope that one day they will win something and give you that glory moment? In 1991 we navigated a cup run all way to the semi-finals and I don’t recall it really derailing our promotion that season? Granted in true West Ham fashion we lost the Division 2 title on the last day of season by losing at home to Notts County, but I digress! The point which I am trying to make is why in the modern game is it deemed as almost unprofessional to combine a cup run with your league season?
Now granted given our current predicament I would not blame Sam Allardyce for fielding a weakened team Sunday, however, given our injury crisis, he would seem to have little choice. But if we lie down and die in the Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City, I will be dismayed, sadly this would appear to be the case, given the recent comments from the Manager.
So why do our domestic cups mean so little these days? The expansion of the European Cup, to a Champions League format for me is the major nail in the coffin. The Champions League is a cash cow for the big clubs and the TV companies, the bigger it gets the more it takes over and I am fairly confident that within the next 10 years the Premier League as we know it will not exist. The big clubs of Europe will be playing in a European Super League, where we will be as a club lord only knows?!
The cups will continue to whimper on but sadly I now think they are past the point of being rescued. The football I grew up with and fell in love with no longer really exists. If success is now simply securing top-flight status so that the money rolls in, then you must ask yourself what really is the point?
For the nostalgic record one of my best memories from the Boleyn Ground in season 97/98, a FA Cup replay against Arsenal when John Hartson equalized for us at the Bobby Moore End, the stadium rocked beyond belief, blimey even Arsenal still thought the FA Cup was important then! We eventually lost the penalty shoot out, proper ecstasy then agony, but hey is that what being a football fan is all about?