FA Cup third-round weekend is just around the corner – a weekend that many consider to be one of the most attractive on the football calendar.
Recently, however, it seems to have become the time that the so-called “minnows” get their 15 minutes of fame in the spotlight ruined by patronising TV and radio execs, who want to see an upset but who like the Football Association, are desperate for the showpiece at Wembley in May to come down to a battle between Liverpool and Manchester City.
We’ve decided to mark your card ahead of the third-round then by giving you five of the most popular topics of discussion we think you’ll hear over the course of the next few days.
THE NUMBER OF PLACES BETWEEN THE TWO TEAMS
Let’s start with what is surely the most popular of the lot; the endless ramblings about the distance in terms of league places between the two teams if it’s Premier League v anyone outside of the Championship.
Spare a thought for AFC Fylde on Sunday as they travel to Bramall Lane to face the mighty Sheffield United and especially for their fans who will be constantly reminded that they are the lowest-ranked side left in the competition (along with Hartlepool) and that “There’s ……places between the two teams at present”.
This will, of course, be backed-up by the match commentator telling us that all the noise is coming from the huge visiting support who have travelled in their thousands to watch their side and that outside the ground they spoke to a gentleman who’d come all the way from Australia for this one.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE TEAM WON’T BE USED TO CHANGING IN DRESSING-ROOM’S LIKE THESE
The honour of having this bestowed upon them for the next 48 hours must go to Newcastle United who will have to run the gauntlet of getting changed in the Colditz-like conditions at Spotland as they take on Rochdale.
The Lancashire side will have done their best to make the away dressing-room as uninviting as possible by cutting the hot water supply to the showers and removing the three-bar heater that was a health hazard anyway.
Cut to pitchside where our intrepid reporter will be telling us that there’s not even enough room in there for the Magpies players’ Louis Vuitton washbags and that they’ve already been told not to leave any valuables in their pockets, as the dressing-rooms won’t be locked for the duration of the game.
How will Andy Carroll and company survive this ordeal, eh?
BUTCHER, BAKER, CANDLESTICK MAKER…
The FA Cup third-round always throws up an unlikely hero and by Monday, someone will have their entire life history splashed across the pages of every football pull-out from every major daily newspaper.
It’s the magic of the FA Cup of course, so prepare yourselves for BBC and BT Sport giving us the lowdown on players that only a few years ago were working as a postie, electrician or site labourer before getting their shot at the big time.
A winning goal in this round guarantees them a pundit’s job at the same stage of the competition for the rest of their lives; just ask Matthew Hanlan, who scored Sutton United’s winner v Coventry in 1989 and who is still dining out on his 15 minutes of fame 30 years later.
Every Premier League manager’s nightmare – being drawn at home to a League Two/Non-League side playing an entire second string, but having to tell the media that they’re not disrespecting the competition in any way.
Let’s be honest – Pep Guardiola couldn’t give a toss whether his Manchester City side wins the FA Cup or not, so having a squad of 50 first-team players at his disposal entitles him to play whoever the f**k he likes against Port Vale on Saturday.
After the inevitable 6-0 demolition, Pep will be in the mix-zone telling everyone what a tough match it was and that this competition is just as important as winning the Champions League.
Head over to any radio phone-in shortly afterwards, however, and you’ll be able to listen to disgruntled Vale fans talk about how they paid 50 quid to get into The Etihad, only to watch their side undone by a team of unknowns whose average age was even lower than Jossy’s Giants.
WHO’LL BE IN THE HAT FOR MONDAY’S DRAW?
Throughout its illustrious history, has the Football Association ever used a f***ing hat to draw out the teams?
Most, if not all of the weekend commentaries, will refer to one (or both of the teams if a replay is required) “being in the hat” for the next round, but the only thing (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) that I’ve ever seen the balls drop out of is a posh velvet bag.
If we take it literally, wouldn’t it be brilliant if Mark Chapman was replaced by JK from Jamiroquai who then got the two ex-pro’s making the draw, to pluck the balls from one of his collection of ridiculous headgear that made him famous in the late 90’s.
Alternatively and to bring it right up-to-date and to cash-in even further on their popularity, we could get Brummie gangsters the Peaky Blinders to fish the balls out of their flat-caps provided of course, that they took the razor blades out first as that would contravene BBC health and safety rules.