Saturday, 19 February 2011

Sweet FA

First of all, let me say, I'm not monstrously disappointed that we've got a weekend off.

Football without fear or feeling isn't really football, but it can be fun.

For a break, mind, not forever.

What I am worried about is our dismal 'recent' FA Cup record. Hmm, yeah, 'recent'? Can we still get away with that? 20 years is a long time. EMF weren't 'recently' in the charts, were they? It's becoming, simply, 'dismal'.

When I first started supporting Spurs, we could quite justifiably claim to be the cup kings. Winners in 81, 82 and 91, finalists in 87 (and teams of scientists are still trying to work out how we lost that one).

That's a helluva return in 11 years.

Since then, sweet FA.

Chas and Dave have been living on dog food since the mid-90s.

But there are also downsides.

In our fallow 20 years, Liverpool have won the cup three times, Man Utd four times and, most gallingly of all, Arsenal and Chelsea five times each.

Since we apparently fucking 'retired' from the competition, our main London rivals have, between them, won the damn thing in half the years available.

(There has also been a trophy apiece for Everton and Portsmouth, of course).

Here's the 'All Time' list of FA Cup winners as it stood when we clinched number 8:

Tottenham Hotspur 8

Manchester United 7
Aston Villa 7
Newcastle United 6
Blackburn Rovers 6
Arsenal 5

Everton 4

Liverpool 4

Big, big gap
Chelsea 1

Here's how it looks now:
Manchester United 11

Arsenal 10

Tottenham Hotspur 8

Liverpool 7

Aston Villa 7
Chelsea 6

Newcastle United 6
Blackburn Rovers 6

Not only have Man U and, for fucking fuck sake, Arsenal cruised past us, but Liverpool and Chelsea are now right on our tails.

You think we'll overhaul the two above us anytime soon? Or will they extend their lead?

And you think we'll be able to stay ahead of Liverpool and Chelsea?

(Villa, Newcastle and Blackburn, thankfully, seem even more frozen in aspic than us in this particular competition).

Point number two to worry about is this: since the 1991 win, we have lost five semi-finals in a row. I can't be arsed to find out if that's a record or not. I suspect that's because I really don't want to know.

Even if it's not, it's still fucking shocking. It's serial choking, is what it is.

The two defeats to Arsenal (1993 and 2001) were horrible but, on some level, forgivable. But Everton, Newcastle and Portsmouth? Equally horrible and on every level unforgivable.

A semi should lead to something, right chaps? And if you lose five semis in a row, well frankly you need to talk to someone...

Here are some other giants of the game that have knocked us out in the last 20 years:
Aston Villa
Ipswich (3-0!)
Notts Forest
Barnsley (!)
Newcastle (three times!)
Southampton (4-0!)
Man City (3-4, after we were 3-0 up at half time and they had a man (well, Joey Barton) sent off!)
And, most recently, fucking Fulham (4-0!)

If anyone calls us a cup specialist from now on, shout them down. Tell them they don't know what they're fucking talking about. It's most likely to be Ray Stubbs on the telly, of course, so it might not do you much good, but it still needs to be said.

Rod Stewart stopped making good records in the mid-late '70s. Only no one told him. By the time he realised himself, it was too late. He was shit. Let's not be Rod Stewart.

And finally, I'm going to say it: I'd rather win the FA Cup than qualify for the Champions League. I know we're all hopped up on this week's result, and of course the Champions League is a bigger and better competition.

But the FA Cup's not too shabby, and we absolutely, definitely can win it. We have won it, for Christ sake, plenty of times. Just not for two shitty decades.

It's still a damn fine prize. And it deserves better than we've given it for the past 20 years.


  1. I love the FA Cup.
    And am one of the very few that actually remembers last season for a lost FA Cup semi, not finishing 4th... My FA cup link -

  2. Interesting read (yours, I mean, I'm not a madman). Good point about Ricky's goal. And the Turkey story does seem to sum up the 'magic of the cup' - if only that weren't such a hackneyed phrase.