The draw for the 9th Round of the FA Cup is here and, for some odd reason there are only two teams left in!! We thought there were 5 or 6 rounds left yet but, apparently, no, it’s all down to the last two already. We didn’t catch the draw for the FA Cup Final live but some popular music artists did the honours and thank god they were two steps up from Kate Garraway, even if they were also a step back as well.
“FA Cup – Manchester United get Liverpool in the FA Cup” screeches the BBC website, “Man Utd to meet Liverpool” says the ITV website, “Hodgson ‘sad’ about drawing United” notes the Guardian and The Sun seems to have missed the important news altogether. ESPN’s soccernet, though, gets to the crux: “Enemies Reunited: Manchester United will meet Liverpool at Old Trafford in what is the pick of the FA Cup 3rd Round”
Ahhh, ‘the pick’!! We had a check on theFA website and were surprised to see that there are actually 31 other ties in the 9th Round of the FA Cup and we haven’t gone straight to the final. Phew!
It’s pushing a mighty five years since these two last met in the FA Cup so I guess the significance of the game cannot be underestimated and all neutrals are gagging for another installment! Hmmm. Is this the pick of the ties or is this just the easiest tie for lazy hacks to do some research on?
What else could they have focused on? In the 4th Round in 1998 Stevenage took Newcastle to a replay thanks to some bald chap on that Match of the Day show. Not only that but there was an almighty gaff by Freddie Shepherd that ensures this tie will be hot. Neither Shepherd nor Dalglish fancied a trip to a non-league ground and made this plain by implying Broadhall Way wasn’t up to staging such a game and suggested it be switched to St James Park. Stevenage, quite rightly, got the hump and even Newsnight got in on the uproar by pronouncing Dalglish a wuss. Given it was 12 years ago, it shows that things haven’t got much worse when it comes to the big boys being too big for their boots.
What about Arsenal against Leeds? A decent illustration of how teams should and shouldn’t be run, these days. Also, it was the 1972 final and on several occasions has been a tie that has gone to several replays. The last of which was the 4th Round 3rd replay in 1991 that did a lot to convince the FA to extinguish multiple replays and bring in penalty shoot outs.
Sheffield United v Aston Villa is an interesting one. In the 19th Century years of the FA Cup Villa played two semi finals at Sheffield United’s neutral ground and one at Forest’s City Ground against Sheffield United. They went back again for semis three times and in 1920 actually won one of the games by beating Chelsea en-route to beating Huddersfield in the final. The Blades also knocked Villa out in 2005 so Brammal Lane isn’t exactly a welcome sight for the Villains.
Stoke against Cardiff and Millwall against Birmingham are noteworthy for non-footballing reasons, the police bills will be massive. Despite being regulars at the higher league levels and negotiating occasional FA Cup runs, Palace and Coventry have only met once in the FA Cup and that was 103 years ago when Palace won 4-2.
The last time Fulham played Peterborough at the Cottage was only 1992 but it was on the cusp of the new dawn in football. The game was in the old 3rd tier and Peterboro won 1-0 to complete a double. Also in that 3rd division were Stoke City, WBA, Birmingham, Bolton and Wigan.
Plenty of angles to be getting on with there and that’s without the remaining Real FA Cup teams. FC United of Manchester could yet be inviting another South coast club back to Gigg Lane if they beat Brighton, Dover have a tricky tie against 5 time finalists Huddersfield, Crawley could yet face a trip to former finalist Nigel Clough’s Derby, Droylsden could face Norwich City and … spare a final thought for fans of Carlisle. Aside from not getting the glamour tie both fancied, the Carlisle fans face a 732 mile round trip (or a 7 hour train journey) for their 9th Round clash.
So, come on chaps, use some imagination please!