Aging can be difficult to come to terms with, both in oneself and with others in our lives. There comes a point in your relationship with anyone when you might well look at them and think, “Things can and will never be the same again.” It’s a thought that is both profound and frightening, and I’ve been feeling it about the FA Cup this season. To be fair to myself, I’ve lasted longer than many, if not most. Though I’ve become as tired and jaded as the rest of the world with the media’s almost cynical spinning of the “romance” and “magic” tropes that are now starting to hang around the competition’s neck like a lexicographical albatross, I have done my utmost to try to hang onto the notion that there is something worth clinging onto here.
How much of that, however, is just me raging against the dying of the light? Like a good number of other people who were born in north London in the early 1970s, the FA Cup has a disproportionately special place in my psychological make-up. Never mind the fact that they needed a replay on each occasion and might easily have lost either if not both matches, Spurs winning the FA Cup twice in a row slap bang in the middle of my formative years as a football supporters have, especially when coupled with a hearty interest in the non-league game, proved to be highly determinative in terms of my personality as a football supporter, and even though the professional game has moved away from the FA Cup, I’ve spent a decade and a half, may be two decades, seeking to defend it against a steadily growing group of detractors.
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