‘FA Cup magic’ is dying but Chesterfield and non-league giants still love David vs Goliath

‘The magic of the cup’, they used to call it.

Massive kills, non-league clubs facing top heavyweights and of course, the big trip to Wembley coming up.

Some say the 'magic' of the FA Cup is dead, but try saying it to clubs beyond the 'Big Six'


Some say the ‘magic’ of the FA Cup is dead, but try saying it to clubs beyond the ‘Big Six’Credit: EPA

For several years, FA Cup is the pinnacle of national football.

Surely, fans would love to win the First Division or Premier League title above all else.

But there was a time FA Cup who we all expect.

Today, its importance seems to have been diluted.

The best of the best will often rotate their teams and bring in some talented young players, at least in the earlier rounds.

Isn’t that what the owners of the League Cup think? Not the FA Cup, sure?


Unfortunately, with money always so important in our beautiful game, a number of clubs are focusing on the Prem, the Champions League or simply securing a place in the top four.

The FA Cup is something that is too far away for them, especially with the prize being significantly reduced due to the impact of the ongoing Covid pandemic.

This year’s winners will pocket just £3.4m – half of what Arsenal spent lifting the trophy in 2020.

For context, teams earn about that amount per ROUND TABLE win the Champions League.

So the ‘magic’ of the cup may be fading for some, but it’s certainly not dead yet.

Just ask fans of Chesterfield, Kidderminster Harriers, Yeovil and Boreham Wood. All non-federation teams, all in 64 FA Cup finals.

For them, it was a chance to gain national recognition, a much-needed sum of money and, of course, the possibility of a massive televised murder.

That’s the joy of the FA Cup. We’ve seen some spectacular results in this competition – the oldest in English football.

And while the muscles of the Premier League can push kids, barely caring if they make it to the next round, for those intrepid non-league teams, this is the match. that they have been waiting for.

This is the match that some players have dreamed of all their careers.

For example, imagine going to bed on a Friday night as a Chesterfield player.

The Spireites are currently at the top of the National League – and on Saturday night they will face the European champions, Chelsea.

The unlucky fifth-place team will make the long trip to West London to compete in front of more than 40,000 fans with a spot in the fourth round of the biggest domestic cup tournament in the land of fog.

Chesterfield will go to Chelsea dreaming of a potential giant killer in the FA Cup third round


Chesterfield will go to Chelsea dreaming of a potential giant killer in the FA Cup third roundCredit: PA

Is it hard to believe that one of Boreham Wood and AFC Wimbledon will also make it to the last 32 of the Nations Cup?

Wouldn’t it be fun to watch people fall in love Newcastle League One hosts struggling Cambridge United? That has the ability to kill the giant written on it.

As for Morecambe’s trip to the 62,850 seater Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday? They will support it.. and so will the fans.

And then there’s Yeovil. Most recently in 2013-14, they won. Now in them THE THIRD DAY season in the National League after a disastrous decline in the divisions, a big cup match may just be the ticket.

Somerset’s side face Championship side Bournemouth in a home clash, televised.

For them, this is no ordinary game, this is a great opportunity to boost their morale and finances in front of millions of viewers from home.

There are other exciting games also available for the hungry clubs. What about West Ham vs Leeds?

Arsenal also still living in TWO Cup competition, with a trip to Nottingham Forest on Sunday night, as well as the Carabao Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

Then there is the Red Devils themselves, currently in the midst of a waning Covid outbreak, without coach Jurgen Klopp, No2 Pepijn Linders AND a large number of their squad.

They had to face third-rate Shrewsbury, who would have loved their chance to kill the giant so Liverpool forced to launch a temporary squad of 11 young stars.

League One Shrewsbury will meet the Liverpool team defeated by Covid in the 3rd round of the FA Cup


League One Shrewsbury will meet the Liverpool team defeated by Covid in the 3rd round of the FA CupCredit: Getty

Sure, there’s a weird game like Manchester United vs Aston Villa, it could almost be just another match in the league for the casual supporters.

But it’s not. Especially for Villa – showing a lot of ambition under new manager Steven Gerrard, including signed a loan deal for Philippe Coutinho – the prospect of defeating the Red Devils and winning the championship is entirely possible.

They have no League Cup to consider, no European football to cram into their schedule. For them, it’s avoiding relegation and trying to kick off a cup tournament.

And that’s the real beauty of the FA Cup, the so-called ‘magic’.

If nothing else, it’s a bit of a relief from the crush of league football.

A spectacular match like no other, nothing more than the results of the day matters – especially now that there will be no replays.

There are no drop points or goal difference to consider.

Just win. Just pass the next round. Just go to Wembley.

So you can abbreviate it as another distraction, but the FA Cup is still a complete miracle.

Fully furnished and TV channels

Friday, January 7

  • Swindon Town v Manchester City – 8pm (ITV1, ITV Hub)

Saturday, January 8

  • Millwall v Crystal Palace – 12 hours 45 minutes (ITV, ITV Hub)
  • Bristol City v Fulham – 12:30pm
  • Burnley v Huddersfield Town – 12:30pm
  • Coventry City v Derby County – 12:30pm
  • Hartlepool United v Blackpool – 12:30pm
  • Mansfield Town v Middlesbrough – 12:30pm
  • Barnsley v Barrow – 3pm
  • Birmingham City v Plymouth Argyle – 3pm
  • Boreham Wood v AFC Wimbledon – 3pm
  • Kidderminster Harriers v Reading – 3pm
  • Leicester City v Watford – 3pm
  • Newcastle United v Cambridge United – 3pm
  • Peterborough United v Bristol Rovers – 3pm
  • Port Vale v Brentford – 3pm
  • Queens Park Rangers v Rotherham United – 3pm
  • West Brom v Brighton – 3pm
  • Wigan v Blackburn Rovers – 3pm
  • Hull City v Everton – 5:30pm (BBC ONE, BBC iPlayer)
  • Swansea City v Southampton – 5:30pm (BBC ONE Wales, BBC iPlayer)
  • Chelsea v Chesterfield – 5:30pm (BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer)
  • Yeovil Town v Bournemouth – 5:30pm (BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer)

Sunday, January 9

  • Luton Town v Harrogate Town – 12:30pm
  • Cardiff City v Preston – 2pm (S4C, BBC iPlayer)
  • Charlton v Norwich City – 2pm
  • Liverpool v Shrewsbury Town – 2pm
  • Stoke City v Leyton Orient – 2pm
  • Tottenham v Morceambe – 2pm
  • Wolves v Sheffield United – 2pm
  • West Ham v Leeds United at 2:15pm (ITV1, ITV Hub)
  • Nottingham Forest v Arsenal 5:15pm (ITV1, ITV Hub)

Monday, January 10

  • Man Utd vs Aston Villa – 7.55pm (BBC One, BBC iPlayer)

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