I read an article recently, in which the writer played down the significance of the FA cup. Manchester United were living in the last century by prioritising the FA cup he said, Chelsea and Manchester City crashing out is a pointer to why the FA cup has lost its significance, they didn’t take it seriously. Arsenal only took it seriously last season, he said, because their lack of trophies had become embarrassing…, and so on.
I couldn’t disagree more. Not only is claiming the ‘big’ teams didn’t take it seriously disrespectful to all the other teams involved in the competition, it’s disrespectful to the competition itself. The oldest in England, a competition famous for underdogs shocking their highly rated opposition time and time again.
Wrexham vs Arsenal, third round 1992. Arsenal were reigning league champions, against 24th in the third division. It was supposed to be a routine win, Wrexham won 2-1.
Liverpool vs Wimbledon, F.A. cup Final 1988. One the souse will never forget, 1-0 win to Wimbledon.
Most recent, the 4-2 comeback by Bradford city over Chelsea. Yes, Chelsea rotated with the league cup in mind but surely a team consisting Cahill, Oscar, Ramires, Cech, Azpilicueta and Drobga with Fabregas, Willian and Hazard coming on as substitutes should have had too much for a team 49 places below them and at Stamford Bridge too.
Manchester United has a history with the F.A. cup, winning it eleven times, a record only matched just last season by Arsenal. It has however been a long, long time since we last won it. How long? Wayne Rooney has never won the F.A. cup. It’s been too long.
After not qualifying for the champions’ league and tumbling out of the league cup, this season presents to us an opportunity to give the F.A. cup a real go. The F.A. cup offers up profound memories for our club and some agonising ones as well. From Norman Whiteside’s amazing cup winner in 85’ to the loss against Arsenal in 79’ after clawing back a two goal deficit.
I think it’s high time we won the F.A. cup again, and judging by the reactions of the players and staff, we’re going to try hard to do just that.
Much has been written about Sir Matt Busby and the Babes but words and grainy pictures cannot fully describe the tragedy of the event that day in 1958. Nor can they describe the hard work and dedication Sir Matt Busby and the staff at Manchester United had to pull a club that had been relegated twice, was close to bankruptcy and had its stadium bombed, out of the abyss and propel them into a world power.
It was by a cruel twist of fate that players and staff and crew of this great club were lost to the shade just as they were beginning their dominance. Young men, babes they were; Roger Byrne, Eddie Coleman, Mark Jones, Tommy Taylor, Liam Whelan, David Pegg, Geoff Bent and Duncan Edwards; whom Sir Bobby Charlton described as a colossus. Staff, crew and journalists who will be remembered for eternity.
In the midst of this immense loss, words cannot express the utmost respect I have for Sir Matt Busby and the staff at Manchester United. An event that could have destroyed any club, was not allowed to wipe out Manchester United. It was time to rebuild again, not infrastructure, but the souls and hearts of a grieving club. Manchester United played the next match on the fixture, not as disrespect to the fallen, but as part of the rebuilding of a club that would go on in the face of adversity. Manchester United had come to stay, whether the world like it or not. I think that decision by Sir Matt, from his hospital bed, to call his assistant Jimmy Murphy, another man Manchester United is forever grateful to; to in his words: “…keep the flag flying…”, went a long way in building the tenacity of Manchester United today. The last minute goals, the never say die attitude, of giving youth a chance, of the performances of the players as a whole, greater than the sum of their individual abilities. We will remember the Busby Babes beyond eternity, they are woven into the stuff that makes this great club. The Flowers of Manchester will never be forgotten and we’ll never die.