Daventry Town publicity officer and sports writer for the Daventry Express, JIM DAVIS, looks ahead to what he is hoping will be a special day for his club and the town in the FA Cup this Saturday.
Dreams, dreams, dreams! I am writing this before the biggest games in the history of Daventry Town!
I know the word ‘if’ suggests an element of doubt or of uncertainty, but IF we come away from Hartley Wintney on Saturday afternoon, with a victory, we will be in the first round proper of the FA Cup!
Now think about that for a minute!
We would be in the draw for a possible match alongside Wolverhampton Wanderers, Portsmouth, Sheffield United, Northampton Town, Preston North End, Milton Keynes Dons, Bristol City or Coventry City!
Then again, we could draw a Conference or less glamorous league club, like Walsall!
Ask most foreign visitors to write down what they think of as ‘English’, and their answers are often amusing.
Alongside the more obvious, The Beatles, Shakespeare, Mr Bean, Fish & Chips, the BBC, Coronation Street and the Glastonbury Music Festival, the most surprising is the FA Cup!
It seems that football supporters from across the globe have some knowledge of the English FA Cup competition!
The history books will tell us that the FA Cup is the oldest association football competition in the world, having first been held in 1871–72, Wanderers beating Royal Engineers by the single goal, but it’s so much more than that!
The winners of the FA Cup next May will win just £1.8m, the Premier League champions can expect to win £50m and qualification to the Champions League, where the winners will collect more than £100m, so what is the attraction of the FA Cup for the many clubs and supporters across the land?
The appeal of the FA Cup is quite clearly not monetary, with the result that many top flight clubs field ‘weakened’ teams in the competition.
For many ‘top flight’ managers and club directors, the focus is often on financial gain, rather than FA Cup glory!
Despite this, the FA Cup has not lost its appeal with the majority of football supporters and players across the country.
The Premier League may offer greater financial rewards, but it cannot offer the romance of England’s greatest Cup competition, the final screened to millions around the globe.
The FA Cup is unique in that it can place clubs like Wolverhampton Wanderers and Daventry Town in the same pot, the possibility of a club much lower down the pyramid, making a visit to one of the country’s top flight clubs is real! The FA Cup offers collective memories and experiences, that no other cup competition can provide, not even the League Cup!
The FA Cup unites football fans from across the country, not because of the money that can be won, although for many league and non–League clubs a good cup run can prove very lucrative, but because of the history, romance and traditions of the competition.
It is a cure to the riches and treasures of the Premier League and Champions League.
The FA Cup is part of the fabric of our culture, people who have no interest in football may recall the day Southern League Hereford United beat top flight Newcastle United 2-1, Ronnie Radford famously scoring an 85th minute equaliser in the mud of Edgar Street in 1972 or when Sutton United beat Coventry City in 1989, they remain the last non–League side to beat top flight opposition, these are shared memories.
Many other ‘giant killings` come to mind, with ‘little’ Walsall beating the mighty Arsenal in 1933, Don Revie`s Leeds United coming unstuck at Colchester in 1971 and a young Harry Redknapp getting the better of Ron Atkinson’s Manchester United in 1984, these games forever holding the FA Cup in our collective thoughts and memories.
The FA Cup offers a collective experience for football fans across the country; it doesn’t matter whether your team are in the Premier League, Conference or the Southern League, your team counts too!
The FA Cup is about its heroes, it’s the fans that provide the drama.
We can all dream, cant we!
Jim Davis @daventrysaddler