TODAY, WE HEAR FROM STAR BOARD MEMBER RICHARD LANGLEY:
The FA Cup – the good, the bad and the ugly
That well-known phrase could just describe some of the results from the 4th Round last weekend. The good – Barnet, Shrewsbury and Newport both took higher league opposition to replays, Millwall and AFC Wimbledon dumped Premier League opposition unceremoniously out of the cup. The bad – Spurs ended a turgid week by being well beaten by Crystal Palace and VAR was once again at the centre of things in the Chelsea game but more controversially in the Millwall game. Former Royal Jake Cooper clearly handled the ball into the net to equalise at the Den…but VAR wasn’t available because it’s only available at Premier League grounds. The ugly – unfortunately the Millwall game was marred by various unsavoury incidents but especially racist chanting, something the club and the Metropolitan Police are looking into, but it highlights an issue that runs deeper, albeit in a minority, through football and society.
The FA Cup is still seen as magic by many fans, though some teams, especially in the Premier League and Championship still don’t quite take it as seriously as the lower league teams. Undoubtedly this is due to several things, money being one of them. Financially there’s no doubt, for some of the “smaller” teams, the further you go in the competition the more rewards you get. For winning in the 3rd Round proper clubs receive £135,000 from the FA’s Prize Fund. Now for Manchester City that may pay Leroy Sane’s wages for a week or so, but for a club like Newport County that might fund a new player, stadium works or training ground improvements.
There’s also the chance for players from the lower leagues to “put themselves in the shop window” so to speak. A chance for them to show the watching world just what they can do against the “big boys”. Names such as Tim Cahill, Harry Maguire and Jermaine Beckford all got themselves moves to Premier League clubs on the back of their FA Cup heroics and many other players, such as Nick Blackman who moved from Sheffield United to the Royals in January 2013 after impressing Brian McDermott in a 4-0 FA Cup 4th Round win. A great performance in “the Cup” doesn’t necessarily translate to league success mind.
There are many things that need to be sorted out in the FA Cup, the rollout of VAR across all grounds, ticket pricing, and finally, Reading could do with not being drawn against Manchester United for a while, please?
Hall Of Fame
The judging for the 25 inductees for the 2019 STAR’s Reading FC Hall of Fame has been completed and invitations to attend are being sent to the lucky (and living) candidates. This year’s list contains six managers, one mayor, one supporter, eleven men who have played full-back for the club, three astonishing bargain buys, five internationals and more besides.
Hall of Fame is on Sunday 17 March, 7pm at the Princes Suite, Madejski Stadium so please make a note on your calendar. Entry is free to all STAR members.
Introducing Richard Langley