Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail wrote a ridiculously patronising piece on their website today which you can read here. I try not to take anything that publication says seriously because it’s descended into clickbait nonsense to attract advertisers, but Ashton’s first person piece is symptomatic of the mainstream media’s view that nothing outside of the corporate world of Premier League football matters. The FA Cup needs ‘saving’, he argues, with the need for tweaks to “generate excitement and enthusiasm for both clubs and their supporters.” Try and tell the supporters at Blyth Spartans they need to be more excited. Or even the fans at Worcester who invaded the pitch after they drew at Scunthorpe and forced a replay.
The answer, apparently, is to invite Real Madrid and Barcelona, I imagine at the expense of a non league side, and bring in more corporate sponsorship (which would inevitably go to those already well off). This, he argues, will make the competition more interesting with the incredibly patronising argument “imagine the great Lionel Messi travelling to England for a third round tie at Huish Park, Victoria Park or the Racecourse”. It’s the same patronising pat on the head we used at school for the fat kid picked last at football. Let’s all laugh at the less fortunate – we’re all right, Jack.
I thoroughly enjoyed Town’s cup run last season and it was not just great to beat Scunthorpe, but to see Blundell Park buzzing when Huddersfield visited in January. It reminded me of the good old days of league football, but also just how much excitement the FA Cup can generate when you have ‘giantkilling’ football matches. Dover v Crystal Palace next month will likely attract the TV cameras and give the Conference side a financial boost. It doesn’t need more sponsorship or Leo Messi to generate excitement, it just needs a romanticism that already exists amongst most football fans.
Real Madrid in round 3? No thanks, give me Huddersfield any day of the week.