Video of the Day: The 1983 FA Cup Final

by | May 19, 2016

Younger readers of this website – presuming there are any, and there may well not be – could be forgiven for wondering why those of us in our forties or over get so misty-eyed about the FA Cup final. After all, this is just a domestic trophy. It doesn’t carry the pan-continental gravitas of the Champions League or the marathon-esque slog of the Premier League – why should they care about a trophy that seems to belong in the last century? This evening’s FA Cup final is an attempt to explain. The FA Cup final was an event, and was treated as such by broadcasters. When only a handful of live matches per year were shown live on the television, both the BBC and ITV went to town on Cup Final day, with lengthy broadcasts that ate into the daytime schedules which included a pre-match build-up that even makes those shown before matches these days look skinny by comparison.

So join us for this six and a quarter hour long marathon, as we join David Coleman for Cup Final Grandstand. There’s Save Of The Season, an episode of A Question of Sport and even – presumably as a sop from their airline sponsors, British Caledonian – a trip to the match in a helicopter for the players of Brighton & Hove Albion, on the outskirts of a thunderstorm. It probably – and, considering the helicopter’s unhealthy relationship with lightning, rightly – wouldn’t be allowed these days. And at the end of all the pomp and circumstance there’s a decent game as well, as recently relegated Albion take on Manchester United in front of a crowd of 100,000 people and, of course, BBC commentator John Motson. It may not be as lavishly polished as football on the television is now – David Coleman sitting on his own at an empty and dank Wembley a couple of hours before kick-off is an almost haunting image – but you can’t deny the sense of occasion when the teams come out onto the pitch.