Robin Scott-Elliot: The greatest cup competition in the world – it takes up half of the weekend

The FA Cup final, ITV 1/ESPN

It's David Bernstein I feel sorry for. After the week he'd had, a Saturday morning lie-in would have been something to savour. Instead he had to get up at the crack of dawn to let Rebecca Lowe, Jason McAteer, Pat Nevin, Craig Burley and all into Wembley. "Where in just over nine hours' time..." said Lowe, as part of her introduction to ESPN's exhaustive and exhausting coverage of the FA Cup final. This was a job for a workaholic midfielder rather than the prima donna striker, which is perhaps why Robbie Mustoe was included.

Mustoe, with his easy self-deprecation, proved a jolly part of one part of the 12 hours dedicated to the third-most important game of the weekend. ESPN gave us breakfast and brunch and then unsurprisingly skipped lunch and went straight to the build-up to the match itself. It did not start promisingly, with Robbie Savage appearing within the first minute and somebody else enthusing about a "stunning view of Wembley Way". "There's loads to cram in before kick-off," promised Lowe.

That cramming turned out to be every detail imaginable. "What will the players be doing now?" Pat Nevin was asked. "Sleeping," answered Nevin. At one point there was a discussion as to which team would be better suited if it rained. By the time ITV arrived – Bernstein, now having swapped tartan dressing gown for his matchday suit, let them in just after lunchtime – there cannot have been a former Liverpool or Chelsea player left unbothered.

The theme of this being the greatest cup competition etc, etc, was stuck to religiously and well done to Juan Mata for coming up with another reason why the FA Cup is the greatest etc, etc. It's because it's played on the weekend. The Spanish Cup is midweek and so is inferior, suggested Mata.

The best film in the build-up was on ITV, a mini-biopic of Luis Suarez. The reporter Ned Boulting went to Gronigen and Amsterdam to explore the making of the man, speaking to former managers and coaches. The manager of Gronigen, Ron Jans, gave a knowing grin when asked about Suarez's less savoury side. As you can see from the no-nonsense brevity of his name this was not a man to waste letters when a look would do. Next up was Ajax's Herman Pinkster, who is mentioned only for possessing my new favourite name in football.

Suarez is a footballing version of Tortuous Convolvulus – a divisive and devious Roman agent for those unfamiliar with Asterix, the Didier Deschamps of his day. Suarez polarises opinion and the divide often seems to be between footballer and football watcher. "You're not going to win anything with angels," growled Roy Keane (Roy's on safer ground there than Alan Hansen was with kids, I feel).

"With creative people... there's that little bit of madness," explained Gareth Southgate before stressing he was not creative in anyway whatsoever, having been a defender.

During the final, Suarez's snarling berating of the assistant as Liverpool claimed Andy Carroll's header had crossed the line deserves to be another tick in the case against column, along with the Evra incident, the biting and so on. It will not be the last.

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Sport
football
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
weird news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?