The F.A Cup has been good to Chelsea in recent years and I will personally never take a trip to Wembley for granted. As a fourteen year old boy attending the F.A Cup Final win in 1997 against Middlesbrough my dad’s friend said to me, ”Enjoy this moment Chris, we may never have a moment like this again”. Little did we know that Chelsea would go on to win it again in 2000, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and last season’s triumph in 2018. Before the 1997 success in the F.A Cup my dad and his friends like many had to wait 26 years for Chelsea to win something substantial again.
Picture via dailymail.co.uk
Quite possibly the more you win trophies the less special it becomes when you win something. Don’t get me wrong I’m always buzzing when Chelsea win a trophy and I have been fortunate to be there when Chelsea have lifted the F.A Cup on seven occasions but I feel many factors are also contributing to the magic being lost in such a historic competition.
The big teams will always prioritise on getting in the top four (it isn’t a trophy by the way) and progressing in the Champions League. All Premier League teams tend to field weaker teams in the competition now, even the one’s hovering around mid table safe from relegation. Fans predominately feel like the manger’s as stadiums are rarely full for the early rounds of the F.A Cup. T.V revenue is now key for the F.A Cup and the kick off times dictated by the BBC and BT Sport have also not helped, especially the fans trying to get to the games. As we all know the F.A Cup Final was always traditionally a 3pm kick off on a Saturday afternoon. Now it’s commonly at 5:30pm to suit the fans watching on T.V at home.
What ever happened to victory parades? I know with respect smaller teams who unexpectedly win any Cup will have a parade but many bigger clubs don’t anymore. I remember being at Stamford Bridge for the F.A Cup parade the day after the final in 1994 (picture above) and we lost the Final 4-0! Maybe it’s the sign of the times. Last season an F.A Cup victory wasn’t considered enough to keep the manager in his job and was still considered a below par season. Expectations are different now but I certainly do miss that buzz. Maybe I’m getting older!
Remember when clubs who reached the F.A Cup Final released a song? That stopped a few years ago now, I suppose if it was still tradition Chelsea would now have an album!
Picture via amazon.co.uk
Another reason I feel the shine has been taken off the F.A Cup is the fact the F.A continue to play both Semi Finals at Wembley. I know the F.A need to pay for Wembley somehow but I feel the real magic is getting to Wembley and the only the two teams who play there should be the finalists. I thoroughly enjoyed Chelsea’s trips to Old Trafford, Villa Park and Highbury over the years.
Receiving an allocation of around 25,000 tickets per club for the Final is always disappointing considering Wembley’s capacity is 90,000. The days of seeing a ‘sea of blue’ are no longer as we now have large corporate sections often left unoccupied well into the second half of big games. I understand it’s all money motivated but it’s the real supporters who suffer.
Picture via dailymail.co.uk
I’ve always loved the F.A Cup and the 1997 Final will always remain special as does the 1970 Final replay against Leeds does to my dad. All have been memorable and I hope Chelsea continue to win domestic trophies, I just feel something is now missing. I find it ironic that many pundits on the BBC and BT Sport talk about this subject when they are part of the problem.
Written By Chris Wright