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Bowler's Delivery: If you know your history

27 January 2015

Give us back our Cup

SUDDENLY, the FA Cup is having a golden renaissance, which is just as it should be, as any right thinking person will tell you.

In no small part, that’s because the Albion are still in the competition at the last 16 stage and it’s a well known fact that any competition is better when the Throstles are in it. If the authorities are paying proper attention, they will ensure that we go all the way to Wembley, twice. 

Actually, if the authorities were paying proper attention, they’d get rid of the Wembley semi-final and restore the proper tradition that dictates that you get to the national stadium for the cup final, that it is the end destination, not a staging point on the way.

Because like God, the FA Cup exists as a token of faith. "Without faith, am I nothing" sayeth the Lord (God, not Buckley). Similarly, without tradition, the FA Cup is nothing. It stands squarely on the shoulders of its history and if those suddenly slope, everything falls off.

Which brings us to the draw. What kind of witchcraft is involved in knowing what number ball your team is represented by? You should have no clue when the balls are placed into the velvet bag – into it, mark you, not out of it and into a bingo machine – which number relates to your team. 

You should be left in the same state of suspense you get from a Hitchcock film – Alfred not Kevin, the former Chelsea goalkeeper – and when the solemn voice of an FA functionary intones “will play West Bromwich Albion”, it should be the football equivalent of the shower scene in "Psycho".

All of this should be happening in the ether too, on radio, not before your very eyes on television, manned by "celebrities". Prior to last Monday, who knew that Alex Jones was anybody other than an Albion Under 21s striker? What next after Jones and Lineker? Are they going to exhume the legendary Brit Award presenting partnership of Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood?

And in the name of all that is holy, FA Cup games on a Monday night? It’s bad enough that any football should be played on a Monday night, an evening so early in the week that it should only ever be marked by quiet and inebriate nursing of a pint of mild in a pub whose wallpaper is so ancient it has taken on the hue of gravy browning. Good God, Monday nights are for recuperation from the previous weekend and depressive thinking about how long it is until the next one, not for the excitements of the greatest football competition in the world.

So think on. Return the FA Cup to Pathe News and blokes blackening the sky with thrown flat caps as soon as possible. We might just win it again then.

Please give us a follow on Twitter, @wbafcprogramme. You know it makes sense

*(Photo: The Albion squad prepare for the 1935 FA Cup Final)

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