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Day: January 28, 2008

Some Final Thoughts On Havant & Waterlooville

There has been plenty of comment in many different places on the subject of Havant & Waterlooville’s FA Cup run, and their performance on Saturday. There are many people more closely involved in what has been going on than I am, but I thought that I would take opportunity to add some final, personal thoughts on the subject before laying it to rest for the time being. As I mentioned on here earlier, we heard a lot of cliche over the weekend, but it continues to delight me that, in such a cynical age as this, we haven’t forgotten our capacity to be delighted by football, and by minor acts of heroism. The last few days have been a time to forget about the harsh realities of the modern game, with its nepotism, closed shops and spirit-sapping commercialism. It has been a time to revel in the sort of shared experience that I had been starting to think was dead in modern football. It is worth reminding everyone reading this that, for a club of the size of Havant & Waterlooville, this truly is a “once in a lifetime” experience. For Havant (and they are by no means the smallest club to enter into the FA Cup), it took them eight matches to get this far, against stronger and stronger opposition. They started, in the Second Qualifying round, with...

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FA Cup Fourth Round Review

The FA Cup Fourth Round, played out last weekend, was most peculiar. There were sixteen matches played, involving thirty-two clubs, and not a single one was drawn. It was the first time that this had happened in a shade of fifty years. I bet no-one at the BBC saw that one coming. Equally strange is the layout of the last sixteen of the competition. Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool are all ominously present and correct (fingers crossed that they draw each other in the fifth round, then), but the rest of the Premier League has been absolutely decimated. I pointed out here before that the best possible Premier League representation in the Fifth Round would be eight clubs, and the weekend’s results mean that just six have survived – the Big Four, plus Middlesbrough and Portsmouth. I can’t offer a definitive solution to this riddle. I remain less than convinced that this idea that “the Premier League doesn’t care about the FA Cup any more”. I simply cannot accept that professional sportsmen could sell their supporters down the river like that, and I also don’t think that it is in the genetic make-up of the professional sportsman to not want to win. I remain convinced that it is simply that the majority of the Premier League is nowhere near as good as it thinks it is. If the...

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