The FA Cup may be the one of the oldest and most sacred competitions in world football, but it must be hands down the most cliché-ridden.
Decades and decades of making the same observations have created an entire lexicon that is only used when watching the FA Cup and would sound demented at any other time.
If you’re unable to mute the pundits then FA Cup commentary drinking games are pretty much obligatory, drink every time you hear one of these phrases and by the time Chelsea take on Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday evening you won’t have a clue who’s playing or why.
The days of hearing anyone discuss the ‘magic of the cup’ earnestly are over, but now it has become essential for pundits to bemoan that the cup has ‘lost some of its magic’ whenever a Premier League side has the audacity to not come unstuck or decides to rest 25 of their strongest players.
In fact, it has become such a staple for pundits to offer the stunning nugget of wisdom that in some way the Emirates FA Cup has lost some of its soul that the new trend is to insist that ‘while others may say the FA Cup has lost some of its magic, try telling that to the fans here.’
A shot of the Accrington Stanley fans going ape-shit will almost certainly be followed by that sentiment, followed by a thousand patronising statements to the effect that living in Accrington is a joyless existence only made vaguely tolerable by scoring against Derby.
Places in the hierarchy
As us mere mortals are completely unable to comprehend the idea of two teams from different divisions playing against each other, a commentator will always put out just how many places separate the two teams.
It’s not enough to point out that one team is in League Two and the other in the Premier League, we definitely need to know that 78 positions separate them.
If this age-old line doesn’t come out during Shrewsbury v Wolves then something has gone badly wrong.
And of course, if a lower league team find themselves ahead and string more than two passes together we can expect the commentator and pundit to insist that ‘you would think they are the Premier League team’.
In the good old days, it was traditional for the commentator to list some of the day jobs of the underdogs. They were pretty much always postmen.
These days that doesn’t work quite so well as all the players on show tend to be footballers by trade, so instead we can expect to hear how one West Ham player is worth as much as the entire Wimbledon starting XI.
Another phrase that has more or less been ditched, the idea that fans would experience ‘FA Cup fever’ was once all the rage.
Symptoms of FA Cup fever tended to include wearing a half-half scarf, attending a local ground you haven’t been to in 20 years and a need for urgent treatment that sadly clashes with the next game of the ground against Barnet.
A dangerous strain of Carabao Cup fever appeared to have been identified last year, but it turned out that bouts of sweating and diarrhoea were actually the effect of drinking a weird Thai energy drink.
Haven’t read the script
One of the more confusing cliches because it’s traditionally used when the underdog scores, usually to come back in a game that had appeared lost.
The problem here being that no self-respecting scriptwriter would pen a script where a much stronger and wealthier team beat a smaller, weaker side fairly easily, it’s hard to imagine that even getting on Channel Five.
So really if Middlesbrough take the lead against Newport we should be told that they haven’t read the script, unless of course it’s a gritty realistic drama.
These days the presentation of a script ahead of a game is frowned upon by anti-match fixing rules.