i Editor's Letter: FA Cup Final day


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The Independent Online


You know what today is? It's only FA Cup Final day! You would be forgiven for not knowing – and that's not got anything to do with local elections, about which most of the population clearly doesn't give a ****. I'm not someone who views the past through rose-tinted spectacles, believing everything that happened when we were young was better. But Cup Final day really was.

I know it was largely boys that cared (although I make no assumptions), but it was a landmark in the calendar, in those far-off pre-Sky, pre-live-football-coverage-coming-out-of-our-ears days. Mums had to care too – because there was no chance of positive contributions from the family's males, young or old.

We would rise and plonk ourselves in front of the TV at breakfast. You had to watch hours of (then rare) preamble including the riveting sight of luxury coaches collecting the teams from their hotels. Whether it was Dickie Davies or Frank Bough presenting a World of Sport "On the Ball" or Grandstand "Football Focus" special, the banal interviews on-board were must-see, although we knew even then it was so naff.

Watching live football was a revelation: you knew it began at 3pm, it had boring bits like back-passes to the keeper in it – not just goals and sendings-off, but somehow David Coleman, Barry Davies, John Motson or the late great Brian Moore made it soar. It was thrilling from start to finish and we all talked about it at school endlessly. That the matches themselves were mostly anti-climactic didn't matter – especially not when Mick Jones hared down the right wing and crossed for Allan Clarke to head a magnificent winner against Arsenal in the Centenary final, before going up to collect his medal with his arm in a sling. Now, those really were the days!