My cup final tears are drying

Something has been missing from my football watching life for the past 20 years or so, but it is back. A genuine anticipation of the cup final. Already I can’t wait to watch the match on May 19th. For those of us older than 30, who grew to love football before the 7 day a week coverage of the satellite era began, the cup final was an event, not a match. It started with the cup final songs, built up through FA Cup breakfast until, by 3.00,  the excitement was just like Christmas morning. The same teams weren’t always in the final, there were stories galore about the players. Even now I can still remember that Micky Gynn was a postman! It didn’t even matter that it was never my team in the final.

I can remember the last time I felt like this. It was May 18th 1991, shortly before Forest and Spurs played out the last final of a spell that gets my personal vote for the greatest period of the FA Cup (between 1986 and 1991).  Even when my team reached the final fairly recently, I just felt nerves and dread at what we might miss out on, rather than excitement.

To some extent I’ve fallen out of love with top level football now. I still love the lower division stuff, but usually now the cup final just means another bonus for millionaire players, and more bragging rights for glory seeking fans of the big teams. On top of that, with the exception of 2006, the game is usually awful. Whether this is purely down to the increased participation of Chelsea in the final recently is open to debate!  (It’s worth considering though that between 2007-2011 there have been 7 goals in the final, and between 1987-1991 (not counting replays) there were 20.)

It has taken until 2012, but I have my Cup Final excitement back. I really don’t care about Liverpool v Chelsea. I do care massively about events in Glasgow though. Heart of Midlothian v Hibernian. Everything a Cup Final should be. A local derby in the final. Two teams invading the national stadium for the biggest game in their lives. A player promising to strip off and run down Princes Street if his team win.  The supporters of the losing team will probably have to put up with merciless, painful reminders from their cross city rivals for the next 100 years. A city will be torn between total joy and tearful gut wrenching agony 

Hibs fans have been waiting 116 years to right the 1896 final. They are probably the most patient fans in the history of football, having been waiting to win the cup for 110 years.  Waiting whilst Clyde, Morton,  Airdrieonians,  East Fife,  Falkirk,  St Mirren and Motherwell all had their days in the sun.

The league positions and head to head record show that Hearts have the better team and the history of more success. They can also draw on a fairly recent 4-0 smashing of their rivals at Hampden Park. Supporters will remember 2 Cup Final successes in the last 15 years too.

As always, the Scottish Cup becomes interesting when Celtic and Rangers are watching on TV. I can’t wait for this game, and I will be hoping that Hibs win. I have nothing against Hearts, but I think I may even shed a tear if I hear Sunshine on Leith being sung at full time. Football, I should never have doubted you. While I’m worth my room on this earth, I will be with you.

 Dave Rogers @NoLeftFoot

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