Talking football: Cup will never lose its magic

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

This weekend sees Wigan Athletic place their League One promotion push on temporary hold for the first round of the FA Cup.

Many clubs up and down the country – even at third and fourth-tier level – will no doubt elect to ring the changes to concentrate on the ‘bread and butter’ of the league.

It’s even worse when the big boys from the Premier League and Championship enter the fray in the third round, with the riches on offer at the top table remaining, for some, the only priority.

But clubs need only look to Latics during the last five years to see how important the FA Cup can be to a town and a club.

Of course, some cynics will – and frequently do – point to Wigan’s current League One status and mock the decision to attach so much importance and affection on the FA Cup.

But I have still to this day to meet a Latics fan who would swap that famous day at Wembley for another season fighting against relegation – and avoiding frequent drubbings – in the Premier League.

And even though there is not much chance of a repeat trophy success at the moment, you need only look at last season for the competition’s continued importance.

Not many fans, it’s fair to say, were particularly enthused by the prospect of a third-round clash with Nottingham Forest at the DW.

But make no mistake, the Latics bank manager was certainly interested when victory led to a fourth-round tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

There were well over a million reasons why that was a trip worth making!

Speaking to the players this week, it’s also apparent the magic of the FA Cup remains alive and well in the dressing room.

One of them, Gary Roberts, reminisced about watching finals in the 90’s at home, and one day imagining himself writing a page of FA Cup folklore.

This weekend’s clash against Crawley may not muster much interest on a national scale. But then again, a third-round home clash against lower-division Bournemouth didn’t exactly cause the mouth to water back in 2013.

And look how that turned out...

Best wishes to Jordan Flores, and his family, as he recovers in hospital from the car crash last week that could quite easily have claimed his life.

As it is, he’s hoping a period of rest and recuperation will mend his injured back, without the need for surgery.

Speaking to the family this week, they’ve been utterly overwhelmed by the support and best wishes they’ve received, primarily from the Wigan area.

“Jordan Flores...he’s one of our own...”

Never has a chant been more appropriate, and here’s hoping to see him back in a blue and white shirt as quickly as possible.

This week marked the four-year anniversary of Wigan Athletic’s agonising last-gasp home defeat to Zulte Waregem in the Europa League.

Victory would have assured a place in the knockout stage and, as it turns out, a glamour tie against mighty Sevilla.

Instead, Owen Coyle paid the price with his job just three days later, and Uwe Rosler was unable to mastermind a win from the last group game away in Maribor to prevent Latics crashing out.

And I know for a fact there are still plenty of Latics fans who will never get over the missed opportunity of Seville in the sunshine.

I know – because I’m one of them!

“After impressive recruitment in the summer, Bury have sacked manager Lee Clark.

The Shakers are one point off bottom in League One.”

Not sure the first six words of that breaking news snap fit with the rest of the statement to be fair...

Not sure how many of you follow the Bradford Park Avenue FC official twitter feed.

But it almost broke social media at the weekend with the following tweet from the game against Salford City...

“87’ - We can confirm that Max Crocombe has been sent off for urinating during the game. We are not joking. #greenarmy (1-2)”

Social media can of course be a useful, sometimes invaluable, tool in all walks of life.

It can also be brilliant for wasting the odd five minutes for the most trivial of purposes.

“List a team players with same first name as you” certainly falls into the latter category.

But I’m confident there’s no way anyone can beat my XI...!

Robinson; Parker, McGrath, Maldini, Breitner; Scharner, Ince; Gascoigne, Pogba, Scholes; Rossi.

Quote of the Week:

New-boy Leon Osman well and truly making his presence felt on the punditry circuit:

“Manchester City cut through West Brom like butter through a knife.”