Today we hear from Roger Titford – STAR Board Member.
I LOVE THE CUP
I love the FA Cup. Everyone used to love it but I don’t think they do now, judging by the fan debates about “youthful” team selections. To an extent it’s a generational thing. I can remember when ticket prices and gates doubled for FA Cup ties – nowadays they’re more likely to be halved.
Back in the day if you were a mid-table 14th in a 24-club division with two-up, two points only for a win and no play-offs then a 3rd Round home tie would be the highlight of the season. Now the divisions have become much more competitive for longer during the season and, for Championship clubs, the FA Cup gets eclipsed by the shadow of the enormous reward for just being in the Premier League for a season.
At the last count I think the play-off final was described as the £170m game. The prize money for winning the FA Cup is under £7m – include gate receipts and TV fees and it might be double that. There’s £180,000 for the winners of today’s tie. I’m no odds-setting bookie but my guess is that our chances of winning promotion through the play-offs this season are better than winning the FA Cup. Current thinking seems to prioritise one or the other rather than backing both these long shots. Realistic maybe, but sad too.
After 50 years of support I’d love us to win one of the major trophies and, until / unless there’s European Super League, I think the Premier League is going to be out of reach. We had a “bit” of an FA Cup drought, failing to reach the last 16 between 1935 and 1998. Coincidentally that last hurdle was a penalty shoot-out 4th round replay win over today’s visitors Cardiff in the final FA Cup tie at Elm Park in 1998. But since then we’ve reached three quarter-finals and extra-time in a semi-final where we were possibly one misplaced pass from knocking out Arsenal. In the last 15 years in the FA Cup we’ve won at Liverpool and Everton and drawn at Manchester U and Tottenham.
For the past 18 years we’ve entered the competition at the 3rd Round stage thanks to our divisional status. When I was a young supporter we didn’t even reach the 3rd Round half the time and when we did it might be just a defeat away to Notts Co, Hereford or Barnsley. I’m keeping faith with the Cup and I dream we get a busy and expensive weekend at the end of May with two Wembley finals in three days! That’ll be a team selection dilemma and a half.