Sport on TV: Beeb's lack of romance a knockout blow to Cup

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

So farewell then, Football Association Challenge Cup. You were brilliant while you lasted. Queen Victoria was a bit older than I am now when you kicked off; today your great-great-great-great grandson is head of the FA, which these days isn't necessarily saying much. Jarvis Kenrick scored the first goal of your life, for Clapham Rovers against Upton Park; Teddy Sheringham scored the last, in the 1999 final. After that it was oblivion, more or less.

I blame the Blair gang. They cajoled Manchester United into withdrawing from the competition and decamping to Brazil for the Fifa World Mickey Mouse Trophy in order to brown-nose Sepp Blatter with the country's 2006 World Cup bid in mind (and then, when the outcry grew too clamorous, they made out they'd had nothing to do with it).

Chuck into the mix the end of second replays and the 12-year monopoly by the Big Four, and it's clear that as a major trophy the FA Cup is dead and buried. "Would you rather win the League or the Cup?" used to be a valid question. Now the inquiry would elicit howls of derisive laughter.

The BBC hasn't helped. As rights holder you'd think it would want to extract the best of what's left of the competition by going with the romance. So Wednesday was perfect: plucky little Havant & Waterlooville at Swansea, with an awayday to Anfield the reward for improbable success. The corporation must have been sickened, then, to find itself transmitting the dullest 90 minutes since last season's final. As Manchester City and West Ham went through the motions like the Stepford Wives on a supermarket run, Eastlands was about as passionate as a Trappists' trip to the library on National Silence Day.

The suits from the Beeb will have looked on in horror as Havant David-and-Goliathed their way to a 4-2 win. At half-time it was 3-1 – so why didn't Match of the Day get over there sharpish and show us the goals? Why at the end did they show two seconds of crowd invasion – and still no goals? Why didn't they show the entire second half and ditch the Premier League show ponies?

Because they don't care, that's why. Even with all the money they've paid, they don't care. And in truth, neither do we very much.

In Sandbanks (ITV 1, Tuesday-Thursday), the delightful Piers Morgan was back on our screens, exploring the Poole peninsula that's become the fourth most expensive place on earth to live (behind Tokyo, Manhattan and Cleethorpes). You could see why Harry Redknapp was reluctant to leave it behind.

Only one problem: like vast tracts of the British coastline, it's eroding fast. Uninhabitable in 25 years, a boffin said. But is Harry worried? "Not at all," he said. "The sea never comes up here." Harry Redknapp, the Cnut of Fratton Park.

Comments