When I was growing up, the third round of the FA Cup was the point where the competition really took off as the old First Division (Premier League) sides came in and every year would have a giant killer – Hereford in 1972, Stevenage 2011 (both against Newcastle United), Wrexham in 2003, which Arsenal manager George Graham described as his “lowest moment in football” and, of course, Colchester United’s win over the then mighty Leeds in 1971.
Cup final day was something to look forward to from the build up at midday to the post match interviews more than five hours later. From The Baggies in 1968 up to 10 years later when I foolishly agreed to get married on the day Ipswich went to Wembley, these games were imprinted into my memory
Things are a lot different now and it would be more accurate to call the competition The FA B-Team Cup.
Premiership managers are no longer prepared to risk their strongest sides in a competition which they consider at best to be a chance to give fringe players a run out and at worst an inconvenience.
It started with Sir Alex Ferguson in the 90s and has now become commonplace.
It’s very sad to see the tradition of the Cup – which meant so much to me as a football mad child – reduced to just a chance for some of the lower and non league sides to get a handy injection of cash from playing a bunch of reserves and bench warmers at somewhere like Old Trafford.
Just a number?
It’s still a long way off, but this is the decade that I will, maybe – who knows – reach the milestone of hitting 70.
Once I got over the trauma of hitting 30, subsequent birthdays involving a zero have meant very little, although I did have a blip a couple of years ago when 60 arrived.
I’ve accepted the dodgy left knee – the price of playing football into my mid 40s, although my granddaughter being told last week as we headed for the cinema to see Frozen 2: “Now don’t go wandering off because grandad can’t run anymore” stung a bit – I’ve even taken Type 2 diabetes on the chin.
But I was outraged just before Christmas when someone on the phone asked if I would be interested in joining his OAP walking football team.
Blue suede shoes
It’s the beginning of January so that must mean it’s time for my twice-yearly stab at the Presley legend.
Elvis would have been 85 this week and it’s one of the great mysteries of my lifetime how he has endured.
He wasn’t the first teen idol – Johnny Ray an even Frank Sinatra had hordes of fanatical female fans before he arrived on the scene.
He could hold a tune and for the four years up to 1958 had a well deserved pop career.
It’s what happened for the remaining 19 years of his life and since that I can’t understand.
Beyond being the marketable white face to racist America for a musical revolution that had begun as early as Louis Jordan and been pushed over into rock n roll by the likes of Ike Turner and his Rhythm Kings two years before Presley ever walked into Sun Studios, what is there to explain the longevity?
When it comes down to it, for most of his career he was a cabaret singer.
One of the best moments of 2019 for me came on New Year’s Eve from comedian Rosie Jones on Channel 4’s The Last Leg Of The Year.
I so wish I could repeat it but I daren’t. All I can say is it involved Greta Thunberg and what she should be doing as a nearly 17 year-old girl.
Not quite up to Jo Swinson losing her seat level, but a pretty good second.
Go on Catch Up and check it out yourself. Now. Please.