The FA Cup shouldn’t be a second class citizen – it’s as important as it has ever been

15 to 20 years ago there were two days in the footballing calendar that would always excite football fans, no matter who your allegiance was to.

One was the FA Cup third round draw and the other was the FA Cup final.

Both staples of the footballing calendar, they were magical occasions that captured the imagination of the average fan.

Will the minnows draw a giant? Will there be a crunch top level tie?

When it came to cup final day, no matter who was in it the final pubs were packed and fans were hooked.

In the modern era things have changed and the way the FA Cup is viewed by the new, modern football fan is sad.

After years of dilution, of second string sides, of the cup being treated like the annoying little brother, many people just don’t care anymore.

More often than not you’ll still get the bigger sides coming out on top because their second strings are superior to many other sides first teams.

There isn’t the buzz anymore. But there should be, and it isn’t too late to change that.

Seeing minnows like Marine and Skelmersdale in the first round this weekend epitomises what the famous old competiton is about.

It’s about tradition, giant killings and that old cliche – magic.

If the bigger boys took it seriously the FA Cup would still sit up there alongside the Champions League and the Premier League.

Many will say its the finances, the monetary reward isn’t as great as the others.

That shouldn’t matter in the world’s oldest cup competition.

And it still baffles me when you’ve got stagnant Premier League sides with huge histories who don’t care about the cup.

You’ve got your Evertons, Tottenhams, Newcastles who haven’t got near a trophy for years, fielding youth teams in cup games, almost begging to be dumped out.

If you’re an Everton fan born in the 90s, you should be screaming for your club to go and mount a real challenge.

The scrapping of replays hasn’t helped things and in my view could potentially be a nail in the FA Cup coffin years down the line if things don’t change.

It robs vital revenue from the smaller clubs, all to appease the bigger schedules of the big boys.

We should all collectively care about the FA Cup, whether we support the best or the worst team in the country.

Some of my best memories of football are FA Cup related, but as generations who loved the cup move on I dread to think how it will be viewed by the modern fan in 20 years time.

Nothing beats winning a trophy, winning it for the delight it will bring to loyal fans.

Yes, a higher Premier League finish, or a European spot might reap the financial rewards, and it might make the chairman’s wallet even bulkier.

But as we keep hearing ‘football is nothing without the fans’.

Maybe some clubs who have a real shot at the FA Cup should start showing that.

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