LOMAS ON FOOTBALL: Send me to the Tower, but today’s big matches turn me off

Chad Sports Editor John Lomas
Chad Sports Editor John Lomas

They may want to throw me in the Tower, but I have to admit I really don’t care about either of them on this sunny day of British tradition.

For me it’s a match made in hell!

I can’t think of a worse FA Cup final than Chelsea v Manchester United.

Having been an FA Cup final neutral almost every year of my life, what I want is a club I care fractionally about – an underdog, a club from a lower division or an unfashionable Premier League club – to make it to Wembley and give me something to be excited about.

I want to feel involved and be able to hang my hat on one side or the other.

I want to have the chance to let my emotions go and be on the edge of my seat shouting at my TV screen.

But while today’s clubs are in action – and you could have stuck Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal in there too – I really don’t care who wins.

Yes I can sit there and appreciate some of the world’s top players on the biggest domestic cup stage in the world and, yes, it could be a 4-4 thriller (unlikely).

But all I am able to do is nod appreciatively at a moment of world class skill or finish.

I can feel the ire of the hundreds of local United and Chelsea fans upon me already.

But, unless you have family history or are from London or Manchester, why do you support them? They are not representing you or your town/city. Did you just like the colour red or blue?

If you live round here, Mansfield Town, for sure, and, if you must, Forest or Notts County are far worthier of your support.

But we’ve been here before and with brainwashing of fans to support clubs miles from home, moved days for games and altered kick-off times confusing everyone, TV football has much to answer for, despite the great wealth it has brought to the game.

And none of the big clubs care a hoot about the FA Cup most of the time.

It wasn’t always like this.

I can remember when the FA Cup was highly revered by all the clubs and I would sit with my dad from early on the Saturday morning and watch the build-up.

I would also buy a copy of the official match programme and file it away.

Nowadays, with the way the big clubs treat the competition as a second tier affair, it leaves me cold once we get past round three and all the lower division and non-League clubs tend to have bitten the dust.

The real FA Cup excitement these days comes in those qualifying rounds at the most basic of grounds up and down the country as ‘nobody’ players kick-off with genuine dreams of progressing to face a bigger name.

The money earned from each round increases and can be a lifeline to clubs like those as well.

But once the big boys get involved and treat it like a hindrance to their season rather than a special day then it loses its flavour for me.

It was always a 3pm kick-off as well – the perfect time for a football match on a Saturday. Not 5.15pm!

Mind you, today, I would have been far happier if they had kicked off at noon so I could avoid the blanket coverage of the Royal Wedding on TV and radio.

At least I find one of the two protagonists involved in that particular match attractive - though nowhere near enough to suffer watching it.

Don’t worry Royalists, I’ll find my own way to the Tower - through the throngs of Northern-based Chelsea fans and London-based United supporters bound for Wembley no doubt!