ExWHUemployee: ‘The FA Cup is not as magical as it was but I’d love another run to the final’

I have to admit in order of priority now the FA Cup sadly comes behind the Europa League

Said Benrahma (WHU) at the Brentford v West Ham United EPL match, at The G-Tech Stadium, Brentford, London, UK on 4th November, 2023.

As I write this, the draw for the Fourth Round of the FA Cup has just been made, and should we beat Bristol City in our replay we will face either Blackpool or Forest at home. This is a better draw than I expected as I usually assume we will just get a top six club.

What makes the draw more promising is that there are some big all Premier League ties including Spurs v Man City and Chelsea v Aston Villa which means we might be able to avoid them again in the next round. The question is how much importance should we be putting on this cup?

I personally think we should be putting importance on it and I was delighted before our third round game, that Moyes had decided to go strong against Bristol City. We haven’t won the cup since 1980 and it would be great for us to win it again.

Of course, the FA Cup has lost some of its magic which is very sad. The third round used to be one of the highlights of the West Ham calendar for me, yet in recent years I’ve not been that bothered.

Sadly the importance, both financially and prestigiously, has shifted to the Premier League and European trophies. The FA Cup doesn’t carry the same nostalgia that it once did. When I first started watching football in the late 80s early 90s, the FA Cup seemed as important as winning the league but this is now not the case.

You could argue why the importance has been lost. Is it because of the money? Is it because the gulf is so big between the top six now and other teams you no longer get that magic of underdogs winning?

Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, only Portsmouth in 2008, Wigan in 2013 and Leicester City in 2021 could be considered non-big teams that have had success. I think not playing the semi finals at neutral grounds is another factor, and also the influx of foreign players who didn’t grow up with the magic of the FA Cup are all factors.

Yet for me, any trophy West Ham enter is worth trying to win. I include the EFL trophy as one as well where we play Wycombe tomorrow. Many of my childhood West Ham memories involve FA Cup ties.

I remember going to Wrexham in the snow not knowing if the game was going ahead. I remember games against non-league sides like Farnborough, Aldershot and Emley being much harder than they should have been.

Magical games like beating Man City in my only visit to Maine Road and knocking out Manchester United with all the Barthez cheating antics. There are so many games that will live with me forever, even the painful losses like to Spurs (that same year we beat Man U) or losing on penalties to Arsenal.

Of course the 1991 semi final against Forest and the 2006 final against Liverpool. The cup makes memories and that is why I still want us to do as well as we can.

I have to admit in order of priority now it sadly comes behind the Europa League, because the Europa League offers you a route into the Champions League, which is everyone’s dream to see. I would also take a Champions League league finish season over an FA Cup win nowadays sadly but nonetheless, I hope the boys get the business done against Bristol and then in the fourth round, before I write my next article.

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