It’s almost become unbearable.
The gushing commentaries, the relentless repetition, the falsifying of expectations to create a story.
If only it weren’t so bloody good.
If it were less compelling, less utterly unmissable we could dismiss it as an over-hyped irrelevance – which is what the FA Cup appeared to be becoming a few years ago. With the Champions League the new god and top teams gearing up only for a top-four finish we had the endless wringing of hands over the original cup competition’s loss of gravitas.
It turns out we needn’t have worried. The BBC or ITV - depending on who has rights - have done their best to put us off it with their mind-numbingly repetitive lexicon of ‘great levellers’, teams of ‘car mechanics and accountants’, ‘magic of the FA Cup’ and ‘giant-killer’ descriptions.
But even they can’t do it. Even the annual re-working of 1930s commentator-speak can’t put us off – to be fair to them what else are they meant to say? How else but to revert to FA Cup cliche could you describe Wednesday being a goal up at Man City?
What new words might there have been to tell of Sheffield United’s ‘fairy-tale’ run to last year’s semi-final at Wembley? At the weekend Bradford City and Middlesborough looked like superior Champions League visitors with the kind of cutting edge that reduces home crowds to terrified silence. Have there been better-worked goals anywhere this season than Bradford’s third and fourth at Stamford Bridge? ‘Sensational’, and no matter how tired the descriptions become they’re all true.The FA Cup is so wonderfully predictable in its unpredictability.
See, I’m at it now…
*Adrian Chiles has had the heave-ho from ITV football and many have gloated. Clearly an ambitious man but a proper football fan who always had the air of someone who couldn’t quite believe he was getting away with being himself and getting paid vast sums for it. Good luck to him, he won’t starve.
*Last week this column mentioned Sheffield United’s training kit sponsor Presto Tools and the name McGhee in Tools’ history rang a bell.
A call from Star Owls sage Paul Thompson who covered the club for 40-odd years put me straight.
“Bert McGhee must be turning in his grave!” said Tommo.
“McGhee was, of course, top man there and the West Stand at Hillsborough was the Presto Stand for a long while.”
He’s right of course, big clubs, small world.