Every January, it seems, we agonize over the lost lustre of the FA Cup and eulogize the memories of cup ties past.
We recall the Sunderland-Leeds final of 1973 and Sutton United’s win over Coventry City and, while we brush up on the teamsheets from Yeovil or Altrincham, declare the magic of the cup to be well and truly gone, the sheen to have vanished from world football’s oldest knockout competition.
Then Luton beats Norwich at Carrow Road and all is right with the world once more.
I have news for you: The FA Cup is as exciting as it ever was, and if it doesn’t seem that way, it’s only because the glories of yesteryear tend to take on a romantic element that the present will have to wait a generation to attain.
But the magic hasn’t gone anywhere, and years from now we’ll look back at the fourth round of the competition’s 132nd instalment with the same fondness currently reserved for the Southampton team of 1976 or Wimbledon of 1988.
Not surprisingly, the FA Cup features prominently in this weekend’s World Football Awards, beginning on the next slide with the category “Upset of the Weekend.” Enjoy.