It is a competition steeped in history and tradition like no other.
And the FA Cup holds a special place in Morgan Fox’s heart.
The defender, a product of Charlton’s youth system, made his Addicks debut in their fifth round tie away to Sheffield Wednesday almost four years ago. Had the Owls triumphed, it would have set up a mouthwatering quarter-final with Steel City rivals Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
But Fox and Charlton had not read the script, claiming a notable 2-1 victory after strikes by Callum Harriott and Simon Church.
“It was massive for me,” admitted Fox. “I was a young lad at the time and it all went so quickly.
“It was a bit of a blur to be honest. I just remember enjoying it. It is a great competition to start your career off in.”
Fox, who hails from Essex, grew up supporting West Ham United. As a fan, he watched the Hammers agonisingly lose to Liverpool in a thrilling FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium 12 years ago. It finished three apiece after normal and extra time but Liverpool, inspired by England midfielder Steven Gerrard, eventually prevailed 3-1 on penalties.
“It was heartbreak on the day but that is magic of the cup,” Fox told The Star. “I grew up watching the cup. Every young lad does and you want to be in that final and go as far as you can.”
Over the last decade or so, the cup has arguably lost some of its lustre. Clubs battling to retain their Premier League status don’t take the tournament as seriously, fielding weakened teams in the early rounds. Even clubs lower down the football pyramid are not putting the competition near the top of their priority list.
The FA Cup seems to have a growing number of knockers but Fox, who moved to Hillsborough a year ago, still believes in the romance of the cup.
Tonight the Owls entertain Championship rivals Reading aiming to reach the fifth round of competition for the first time in four years.
“People say ‘the magic of the cup has gone and stuff like that’ but as a player I don’t think so,” he said. “Cup runs are something that every club wants to go on, especially as a player.
“I think every player goes out there to win and get in the hat for the next round because that’s where the excitement is. It’s the excitement of not knowing who is coming next I guess so that’s what we are looking to do.”
Fox, a hard-working, committed player, has started all of Jos Luhukay’s three matches in charge of Wednesday. He has been deployed as a left wing-back, playing his part in the Owls going over six hours without conceding a goal.
The 24-year-old has praised the job Luhukay has done in stabilising the team since replacing Carlos Carvalhal.
Fox said: “I think we showed in the Cardiff game that we had a platform. It was frustrating because we know we could have won the game.
“It all started from getting that clean sheet and building forward from there. That is what the manager has really focused on since he has been here. He’s thought ‘right, let’s steady the ship, get a good platform and then we will build on it.’”
Injury-ravaged Wednesday have recently struggled to find the back of the net, firing blanks in five of their last six matches. Luhukay is without a plethora of attacking talent, including Gary Hooper, Steven Fletcher and Fernando Forestieri.
But Fox is confident the Owls’ luck will soon turn in front of goal.
He said: “We have had good chances in the games that we have played.
“Against Sheffield United, the keeper has made a great save at the end to stop them from losing.
“We had some really good chances to win the game the other day against Cardiff.
“I think the goals will come. It’s just working on building on what we have and going on to get the wins.”