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The magic of The FA Cup

FA Cup first round day is upon us already. This is always a special day in the calendar for all fans as well as players who are connected to lower league clubs.

If your team is in a positive league position then you really don’t care who you draw out of the hat. If your team is on a run of bad form then you can dread the draw in the expectation of being paired against a non-league team away from home. We see it year in and year out, where a team struggling in the league is drawn away to a non-league team who turn them over.

As a player I endured one such experience as a Northampton Town player. We drew Canvey Island away and had the added pleasure of it shown live on BBC1 on a Sunday afternoon. It was probably the lowest day of my career. At the time I think they were 3 or 4 divisions below us and they turned us over quite easily following a bright start to the match. We didn’t take our early chances and paid the ultimate price.

So why do these FA Cup shocks occur ?

Many reasons I think. The lower ranked team raise their game significantly knowing that there is a bigger audience watching and an opportunity to grab some headlines. The higher placed team have an off day. Lower league players are playing in the lower leagues because they lack the consistency required to play higher. Many lower league players have some of the attributes required to play higher but lack that all important quality of consistency. Non-league pitches are not usually in as good a condition as their league counterparts. This is a huge ‘levelled’ which can stifle the game of a league opponent.

For me though the biggest reason is all in the mind. Although, as a player, you don’t go in to any match consciously complacent, once this attitude sets in there is very little you can do to recover it. The longer the game goes on while the scores are level there is always a chance that you could concede.

Somewhere it will happen. A league team will be beaten by so-called inferior opposition. We can try to give our reasons but maybe we must admit that it is because of the magic of The FA Cup.

I would like to say thank you to the sponsors of this blog: JJB SPORTS who have a 3 for 2 offer.

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