Poems tagged ‘FA Cup’

FA Cup replays no more

Oh how we’ll miss
The continuous sequence
Of FA Cup replay after replay
More and more carbon footprints
The same old song
Played over and over again
No resolution, no clarity
Indecision until the
Calendar year just
Can’t take anymore
The wearisome themes
Of draw after draw
Oh spare us the necessity
Repeat after me over and over
Again, no more replays
But how we’ll miss them
That failure to accommodate
Those who just can’t seem
To make up their mind
Remember Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday
In years gone by
That seemed to take several Christmases
To finally sort the men from the boys
Some of us were snoring over our
Horlicks hot toddy
Just to keep the matches
That held up our eyelids
How many times did the Owls
Look out for the Gunners
And just despaired of football?
Full stop, but hark
A decisive result did restore
Our faith in the FA
But why on earth have we
Abolished that second game
In the FA Cup?
Scrapped its charm offensive
That made our hearts swoon
When the non Leaguers
Couldn’t quite manage to
Upset the odds
First time around
To shake up
Those condescending souls
Who believe the
FA Cup minnows
Have no right to be
In the last eight
Of the FA Cup
Since the wealthy industrialists
Of the Premier League
Have ploughed lorry loads of money
Into vanity projects
Where the Manchesters of United
And City assess their value
In stock markets and the Financial Times
Pity now the non League fantasists
Who will never know
The sweet smell of TV millions
In their modest bank accounts
No second sequels, no opportunities
To finish off the job
On their lovely
Postage stamp ground
Next to back to back
Terraced houses
Or flats and floodlights
No larger than a burger van
It’s one match only
In the FA Cup next year
And that’s that
The air of finality
Line under the sand
Win it first time around
Or the alternative may be
Eternally grim
Like Sinatra coming out
Of retirement
Seemingly inevitably
Not once, but twice
Even three, four or five times
And yet Ol’ Blue Eyes
What did he know about
The FA Cup third round?
Dulcet, velvety and
Honeyed voice
Of course
But Sinatra did things his way
Non League idealists though
Can no longer rely
On just one more
Roll of the dice
It’ll no longer be
The case
To prove to the world
That they can do
It one more time
So infuriating but true

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FA Cup Replays

There was a lack of football on TV.
So you invented the Champions League.
But now your players are so tired you say.
Wheeze is to scrap FA Cup match replays.

Chop, change, tinker and tweak.
When will you leave us supporters in peace?

If for more fiddling you feel there’s a need,
Why not do that in the Champions League?
When the score’s level after playing ninety mins,
Dump Extra Time, go directly to pens.

Tweak, tamper, flip and flop.
Harebrained Cup Replay Scrap Plan must be stopped!

Denys E. W. Jones


Not another repeat FA Cup Final

Oh no not another
Repeat FA Cup Final
It seems only a year ago
Since the spring equinox
Brought us the cherry blossom
Of the all Manchester Cup Final
And here we stand again
The real possibility of
An identical menu
With the same hors d’oeuvres
Canapes, vol au vents
Cocktail sausages
Football just replicating itself
Gazing at the mirror
And seeing an uncanny resemblance
To football’s fabled past
Manchester United, still suffering
From the indigestion of a gluttonous
Seven goal feast against Liverpool
Face those who would rather be
Sent to Coventry
United realistically back at
Wembley twice for both semi final
And surely the Final
But of course it’s a funny game
If Coventry are looking for a
Glimmer of hope
Look no further than Plymouth Argyle
And Chesterfield
Last four Cup semi finalists
From decades gone by
Football never obeys the script
It just keeps you on the edge
Of your seat, feverish
Thoughts of the unexpected
And then City, the other
Half of the equation
Against Chelsea
The impartial neutrals
Would lick their lips
In anticipation
Of a Chelsea- Coventry
Wembley showpiece
But football never
Makes any room for sentiment
And the cream normally
Rises to the surface
So a pot of pasteurised
For family tea
Although we could witness
A familiar re-run of 30 years
Ago when Manchester United
With that great philosopher
Eric Cantona
Took Chelsea to the cleaners
And hung them out to dry
Four of the best that day
For Fergie’s most profound thinkers
Unstoppable, far too streetwise
And shrewd for the Chelsea whippersnappers
But the FA Cup must have elements of surprise
So please no more Manchester
Cup Final derbies
Unless Manchester demands
This to be the case
There has to be an alternative
To yet more photocopies
Of a recent age
Tedium may set in
Something different
To appeal to our eyes
And ears

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Down to the last four

And then there were four
Well, not quite
The FA Cup reaches
Boiling point
Yesterday we remembered
The heroic exploits of
Jimmy Hill
When Coventry City
Drove his first
Fleet of cars
Into Europe
But who could have
Known what would
Happen almost 60 years
Coventry now a match
Away from another
FA Cup Final
It’s the truth
And this is no dream
Since the hungry Wolves
Were hunted down by
Their Sky Blue neighbours
In a dazzling rainbow
Of local derby difference
Of opinion
The football world
Held its astonished breath
It was only 37 years ago
Since the land of
The noble cathedral
And cars by the conveyor belt
Lady Godiva et al
Ruled with matriarchal heart
A woman of substance
But never really much bothered
By the likes of Willie Carr,
Ernie Hunt, Tommy Hutchison
Tony Hateley, Micky Quinn,
Bill Glazier, a one man fortress
Between the sticks
From many years before
And yet in the brightness
Of Wembley FA Cup Final
Late 1980s yesteryear
Dave Bennett, Keith Houchen
Stopped the globe
On its axis
After over a century since
Their first cries of inception
Coventry win their first trophy
A historic achievement
Overcoming the London cockerels
Of mighty Spurs
Houchen heading for the heights
A magnificent nod to glory
Swooping header, a goal
To treasure
And when the final whistle
Blew, George Curtis and John Sillett
Lifted the Cup for high flying
Highfield Road high society
Coventry FA Cup winners
Once but perhaps twice
Although highly unlikely again
But now Coventry are back
At Wembley
For semi final displays
Of swordsmanship
And then there was the
Remarkable Manchester City
Swotting Newcastle aside
As if they simply weren’t there
The FA Cup does love to flirt and
Tease repeatedly
Romantic charmers
But City have the Cup
On their minds
It could become
A yearly pilgrimage
Or maybe the FA Cup
Has other ideas
The Cup has other plans
Treble winners City
In a class of their own
Head prefects
Academic swots
European champions
FA Cup, Premier League,
It’s a litany of honours
At the highest level
While Coventry can only dwell
On what might have been
If only the 1970s had avoided
The following decades
Time for no fond reminiscences
But Coventry are in a semi final
Of the FA Cup
It would only have been a pipedream
In recent seasons
But City beware of giant killers
Since once you found yourself
Lost on Wigan pier in 2013
Before falling into
The FA Cup Final abyss
City beaten by Wigan
Oh nonsense it’ll never happen
Again but you never know
Stranger things have been
Known to happen
Manchester City
It could only be one team
Although the FA Cup
May have a trick up its sleeve

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FA Cup third round day

You must have heard the rumour
It’s out there in the public domain
Everybody’s talking about it
It’ll dominate the back pages
For one sumptuous weekend
In football’s golden carriage
It’s FA Cup third round day
Of days
Last night, tonight
Quite possibly
But it has to be
Since football has no time line
No recognisable reference point
The FA Cup spread out like
A multi coloured blanket
A tableau of silks and satins
Organza and taffeta
It’s a weekend of stunning
Rosettes but sadly few
Rattles since that seems
Like some historic anthem
From an antediluvian age
Where rationing and austerity
Met face to face
In 1940s and 50’s
Imposing grandeur
The FA Cup
Has ancestral class
Across the wide expanses
Of market towns, heaving
Shopping centres,
Snoring villages who just
Live their lives
To the full
Loving that one specific
Day when the big boys are
In town again
Then wake up on Saturday mornings
And discover Wembley could be
Their Lottery ticket or a
Hundred birthdays rolled into one
There goes the local blacksmith
Forging his or her path to glory
The whistling postman or
Postwoman, among
Wonderful wisteria
It has to be the year of the underdog
They may cry
The Non League giant killers
Are waiting their cue
The carpenter and
Supermarket shelf stacker
Are convinced that this
Could be their year of years
And from the shady nooks of
The past and yesteryear
We remember Sutton, Yeovil,
Leatherhead, Blyth Spartans
Who could forget them?
They represented the fragments
Of our memories that will always
Be in our hearts and minds
They were the ones who defied
All conventions, omens
And superstitions
Since the FA Cup does like
To leave us breathless
And never goes according to
The script
Particularly the ties
That go completely off
On a tangent
Of course it’s a day
For dreamers and fantasists
Mud splattered unknowns
Once trapped in obscurity
But now renowned
For toppling Goliaths
Glass of milk in hand
The perfect calcium reward
For gutsy and brave hearted
Rolling up their sleeves
And taking on Manchester City,
Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea
At their own game
Feisty and fiery
Never say die moments
Of gargantuan gallantry
Helluva heroism
Let the good times roll
For Kidderminster Harriers
Courage and daring
For breakfast, please
And don’t forget the toast
To lesser mortals
But enormous pluck
Determination oozing
From every sweat stained
Shirt sponsored striker
Or full back
By local timber merchants
The FA Cup third round
Grounded, no airs and graces
Just the one day in the
Football year
Where form and flights of fancy
Take a brief weekend break
To some exotic island
And just shock and surprise us
It could be the year of the
Non League giant
Upsetting the apple cart
Or just the way it should be
A romantic rendezvous
Simply enchanting
To you and all football
Folk with hope

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Minnow Mania

The early rounds of the FA Cup
look so frenetic,
but the scale and the range
make it dramatic,
turn it poetic.

Hallam or Irlam
will play
Thackley or Goole, while
City of Liverpool
or Penistone Church
will play
Prestwich Heys or Bootle.

Padiham or Silsden
will travel to
Clitheroe, while
the towns of
Belper and Leek
will meet toe to toe.

I could go on…

Some cracking names
I’ve never heard before.
I do hope Hereford Lads Club
get to meet Wolverhampton Casuals.

And Coventry Sphinx
draw Leicester Nirvana.
A better tale of two cities
with less Midlands melodrama.

I’m still waiting for Charlton v Histon
like Forfar 4 East Fife 5 and
Lillee c Willey b Dilley
one day, they’re all going to happen.

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The FA Cup in September

The FA Cup in September
The FA Cup third qualifying round
Surely a typo
A seasonal anomaly
This has to be our
Imagination working
We’ll wake from
Our early morning
Sleepy, soporific torpor
It has to be a mistake
Bleary eyed bewilderment
But it’s Saturday
So it has to be the FA Cup
To those of us who
May be ritualistic
And yet you were right
The first time
It’s the FA Cup
Third round qualifying stage
Where local parklands
With silvery streams
And timeless commanding
Trees, beeches, pines,
Larch and redwood
Stand like disciplined
Squaddies and regiments
Platoons of soldiers
Those wonderful trees
Spilling out cascades
Of autumnal yellowing
And brown leaves
Football among boating lakes
Bowling greens,
Pitch and putt golf courses
Suspend your belief
Since the FA Cup
Has arrived on your doorstep
Next to your glowing red roses
Pruned to your satisfaction
Adjacent to the park keeper’s hut
It’s the FA Cup third qualifying round
Nestling in the nasturtiums
Buoyant by the begonias
Corners and free kicks next
To the happiest of hedgerows
Verging on the right and left wing
Of bright eyed and bushy tailed bushes
The FA Cup competing against
Saturday morning children
Screaming, yelling and giggling
At full volume
Loud and stentorian as
The factories we used to hear
As children
There’s the Essex derby
Between Aveley and Hornchurch
Blyth Spartans, once giant killers
Goliath themselves
From another age
Against robust and redoutable
Worksop Town
It just has the FA Cup
Written all over it.
There’s Bracknell Town
From snug and cosy suburbia
Warmly folded between
The comforting blankets
Of the FA Cup’s magic
Bracknell against Poole Town
It sounds like a firecracker
Smoking in the autumnal peat
Of the FA Cup’s misty
Football singularly lacking
In the airs and graces
Of those who believe that
Wembley in May
Has to be their destiny
Biggleswade Town
Now that’s almost a classical
FA Cup reference point
Typical of its legendary
Heritage, a name longing
To be chanted in years to come
Today St Albans visit Biggleswade
In the FA Cup
Possibly never uttered again
In any sentence or circumstance
Least of all the FA Cup
Among the lofty company
Of third round day
When the big boys
Muscle in on their rightful
Territory, terrifying thought
But Bromsgrove will face
Chelmsford City
And Carshalton Athletic
Will meet Cray Valley
Paper Mills
It almost rolls off the tongue
With the sweetest piquancy
Like profiteroles for tea
The FA Cup in September
It has to be the wrong track
On the wrong album
Braintree against Brookley Town
No, this is alliteration
Overload, too much to take in
Deliberately eye catching
But down by the Weeping Willow
Alfreton meet Emley AFC next
To the gurgling brook
Next to the post office
Take a sharp turn
By the park gates
And stick to the leafy lane
Where the FA Cup awaits
With those first signposts
We can hear the resounding whistling
Of the park keeper on his cycling round
The FA Cup third qualifying round followed
By yet more rounds
In all its primness
And pertness
Fresh, tasty and palatable
As the apples of Kentish orchards
Sweet tasting tales of FA Cup glory
Harvest Festival time now
Here to stay for a while
Let’s treasure
The first whispers of winter
This is FA Cup day
Believe it or not

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Manchester derby FA Cup Final

After 100 years of tears and tantrums
Jollity and joviality
Cut and thrust
End to End
Pulsating palpitations
Hearts in mouths
The FA Cup Final
A century on
From Bolton and West Ham
Billy the White Horse
Disorganised chaos perhaps
On Saturday
The two conflicting
Souls of Manchester
Converge on the Wembley
Embroidery, Every blade
Of grass, a work of loving
Manicured for the day
When moods are somehow suspended
In June when all seemed too
Frantic for words
Manchester City and Manchester United
The Ship Canal Cup Final
Or the Trafford centre
Confrontation of
Ultimate meetings
Finally Manchester finds
More common ground
Than it ever thought possible
Two giants, powerhouses
Influencing the tides of time
Which on Saturday afternoon
Will be three o’clock
Yes you heard it correctly
Three o’clock
Greenwich Mean Time
The soothing certainties
Of tradition
Amongst us again
When Abide With Me
Would be melodiously
Proclaimed on football’s
Highest platforms
And the brass bands would
Find a stirring note
From thousands of well oiled
Larynxes, Men, women
Families and children
With poetic banners
Exclamations from the heart
Flags fluttering like sails
On yachts in placid harbours
We’ve had London FA Cup Finals,
Merseyside Finals, regional variations
On a theme,
The Culture Club against
The Crazy Gang
Now who could ever forget that?
Oh Motty how we miss you
Manchester United, pleasing on the eye
This season, rejuvenated by Ten Haag
Dutch master applying a fine coat of varnish
City, just City,
Stupendous again
That’s the third time
Premier League winners
Miraculous, certainly not
Just programmed to perfection
Polished as the mahogany
Cabinet in Pep’s living room
It’s anybody’s this year
United to edge it narrowly
Or City will blow in a
Magisterial breeze
How we love the FA Cup Final
Half a century ago
Bob Stokoe ran like the wind
To greet time and place
With the warmest glow
Smiles wreathed across
A face of jubilant creases
Thrilled to be among
The ecstatic throng
Sunderland win the FA Cup
Leeds, shocked, affronted
Such effrontery
Don Revie, the silent one
Horrified by the stillness
Of a giant killing defeat
How dare Sunderland
Make Wembley their spiritual home
Just for that day
And not forgetting of course
70 years ago to the year
Since the Stans Mortensen
And Matthews spread
A huge blanket of tomfoolery
And cunning over a breathless
Wembley Stadium
Matthews, like a force of nature
Irresistible as the day itself
Pivoting, twisting, turning,
Shuffling, dragging, delicious
Footwork, dazzling dexterity
On a Saturday afternoon
Bolton just bamboozled
4-3 to Blackpool
It was meant to be
We knew it would
And then ten years later
Sir Matt Busby
Resplendent gentleman
Led out 1963 United
When our Ken Aston, lovely Ken
From Ilford in easy going
Essex blew the ref’s whistle
Against Leicester City
But it’s City against United
Manchester descends on London
On that fascinating reunion
Of great minds thinking alike
Ten Haag walking out with Pep
Let the battle royale

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The last four of the FA Cup semi finalists

And so we move to the last four
Of the FA Cup, the semi finalists
Seamlessly right
Continuity assured
Deeply woven into FA Cup history
Firstly Brighton and Manchester United
4O years since poor Gordon Smith
Missed a sitter in front of Gary Bailey
How the heavens wept
United beat Brighton in the
1983 FA Cup Final
But as if divine fate
Had reunited both United
And Brighton 40 years later
For a Friends Reunited reunion
A coincidence perhaps
But history and symmetry
In perfect union.
The Regency residences
With their imposing
Pristine facades
Timeless as the
Vivid verandas
Reflective windows
Of another gilded age
Reminiscent of Victorian
Balls and waltzes
Within genteel society
Polite company
Of dukes and duchesses
Quite possibly oblivious
Of the lower parlours
And sculleries so beneath them
So Brighton meet United
Again. The Seagulls
Have scores to settle
With the glamorous Red Devils
Brighton bring back the Cup
To the South Coast
After a brief occupation
At Pompey when
Portsmouth paraded the Cup
To the discerning hordes
Of thousands and thousands
In 2008, when none of
Us could ever have imagined
That Cardiff would be FA Cup Final
Opponents in the year’s
Most unlikely and improbable
Meeting of great minds
Harry Redknapp claimed his
Only piece of silverware
But how richly deserved
Brighton and Hove Albion
Light up the pavilion
In its richest Wembley colours
Glory can be scented
But then it’s Manchester United
Lurking in the crepuscular shadows
Another FA Cup in their
Beautifully decorated trophy cabinet
Realistically but who knows?
Meanwhile City their noisy neighbours
Face Yorkshire stainless steel
Sheffield United, Blades waiting
In the wings, sharp, cutting a swathe
Through current form and seemingly
Without a hope but this is the FA Cup
On the surface though
The FA Cup is privately hoping
For its romantic rendezvous
Amid the flickering candle lit
Restaurant tables of football’s
Incurable idealists
Who raise a glass for
That elusive fantasy
Manchester City play Manchester United
In this year’s FA Cup Final
It can’t happen but maybe it will
Now that has the makings of
A thunderous and orchestral
Confrontation, Manchester locked
In the ultimately epic battle
Football boiling, seething with
Local bitterness, bittersweet
Memories of past encounters
Needle puncturing good natured animosity
But that’s a contradiction in terms
The FA Cup
It never fails to enchant

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In no particular order.

So here we go in a breathless gallop
A race through the FA Cup third round
Results, shocks, giant killers
All in one huge documentary of
Purple prose, but surely not from
These ink stained keyboards
Not yours truly,
Just a humble scribe
First The Cherries drink
From too many glasses of
Mature claret
Burnley sip from the finest
Of vineyards
Bournemouth left high and dry
On the promenades of defeat
Burnley now searching for
Another 1962 when Spurs
Had Double diamonds
For hearty tea times
Then seasiders ripple
And ruffle the peacock
Blackpool into the fourth round
Forest lost in a bewildered trance
Send for a search party
Then the endearing Non Leaguers
Boreham Wood find tall and commanding
Firs and pine trees
Woodland to treasure
This year held by the team
Who once extolled the virtues
Of milk
Accrington Stanley exactly
Bees of Brentford
Stung Liverpool but then
Are tamed by West Ham
Hammers pounding their Irons
And forging victory
Chesterfield all spires and
Plush sofas go to the wire
With the Baggies of West Brom
Six goals it could have been more
Coventry sent to Coventry
By the Hollywood glamour
Of film icon Ryan Reynolds
Wrexham in another movie
Block buster grossing millions
At the lucrative box office
Welsh wizards
Then the Eagles are clipped
By the Saints
Not quite logical
But Palace and Southampton
Find another FA Cup platform
This time the Saints
Are elevated and exalted
By higher themes
Palace wrecked
And raided by South Coast
But we still love Buck
Fleetwood fishy but not
Harbouring dreams of Cup glory
Drop the anchor
QPR sadly jettisoned
Concentrate on promotion
Once and all, focus on
The importance of the day
In the Garden of Kent
Gillingham, once an orange
Blossom in the springtide
Now bottom of the League
Next to the plankton
Narrowly beaten by the
Foxes of Leicester sniffing
Another FA Cup Final fragrance
Surely not
Grimsby, fishing for
The prize catch but not dinner
Haddock and trout
Yesterday Burton are ill suited
To the occasion, going for a Burton
So the saying goes so Grimsby
Devour their evening meal with relish
Then Fulham return to the Cottage
With happy tales of helpless Hull
Premier League odyssey now no more
Than a distant dot on the horizon
But hail the memories to savour
On Suffolk, Ipswich view Sir Bobby’s
Pomp with admiring glances
Yesterday Portman Road alight
With optimistic days
Rotherham beaten and battered
By the present day Tractor Boys
Young breeds and harvests
Liverpool, almost starved of
Recent form, haunted and unsure
Of their bearings as Wolves
Hunt in packs again
Ferocious, staring eyes
2-2, a four goal thriller
And Molineux for another
Re-enactment of Cup
Cut and thrust
Another thriller at Anfield
It was always thus
The Hatters of Luton
Selecting the trilbies
And panamas of Cup
Held by Wigan
The last recent shock waves
Of Cup Final history
When Manchester City were
Premier League finished articles
And a year after their first
Boro trounced by yet more
Seaside trippers Brighton
On the goal rout trail
Knocking candy floss from
Salivating Teeside mouths
With a vengeance
At the New Den they find
Millwall in the dock
Sentenced to a defeat
By the sharpest Blades
Of Sheffield United
Preston once English football’s
Recapture the spirit of the FA Cup’s
Essence. Harold Wilson’s proud Huddersfield
Beaten out of sight by the team
Whose plumber once repaired the pipes
Of so many,
There will be only one Tom Finney
Deepdale’s finest. Preston though
In the fourth round of the Cup
Berkshire royally acclaimed
By Reading, Hornets looking to buzz
Again but yesterday Reading royals
Triumphant again, at the invitation
Of His Majesty the King
Sheffield Wednesday who missed out
On two Cups of cheer against Arsenal
In 1993, overcome Geordie colours
Newcastle still in a no man’s land
In Cup folklore, 1955
Some unimaginable wasteland
Shrewsbury in the middle of the country
Sitting snugly in a nook and cranny
No Cup aspirations just simple dreamers
Sunderland, edge this one
Once victims of gigantic killing
When Yeovil poured Somerset scrumpy
In 1948 fields of wonder
The FA Cup hey
A winter fairy tale narrative
Play on

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