Date: 12th May 2006 at 1:00pm
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It’s the eve of the 2005-2006 FA Cup Final; normally it would be a day to look forward to. Sadly, it appears to have lost its magic.

As a youngster, FA Cup Final day was something to behold. It was probably only second to Christmas Day in the list of days you looked forward to. It didn’t matter if your team wasn’t actually playing in the final; it was still a monumental event.

I can recall getting up at the crack of dawn just to get settled for the programmes, on television, that heralded FA Cup Final day. Both main stations, ITV and BBC, competed with each other to attract viewers.

The array of entertainment dished up was superb, variations on long standing programmes such as, Question of Sport , It’s a Knockout intermixed with Meet the Players, The Road to Wembley and On the Coach with the Teams, it was truly a wonderful experience.

Even the match itself was an event, after live football coverage, in those days, was restricted to Cup Finals and the occasional international. There was no mass saturation as there is today. Even after the match itself the watching audience were still captivated by the events that they had seen unfurl in front of their eyes.

Coverage continued with interviews with players from both teams, expert analysis was carried out (unlike the banal rubbish we have to put up with today) and later that night events were re-run in a nostalgic look back at How the Cup Was Won.

Sunday would see the obligatory jackets chucked own on the nearest patch of parkland and dozens of excited lads would re-enact the events of the previous day. Sadly, things have changed now and not for the better.

The exploitation of football that commenced with the advent of satellite television and that was then accelerated as the product became more marketable helped to reduce the expectation levels associated with live football. The days of perhaps a maximum five or six live games a season have been replaced by a similar amount being shown each week of the season.

Indeed, technological advances have also seen the kids of today latch onto other technological innovations. Gone are the days when dozens of kids played until dusk on the local park.

So what are we to make of tomorrows final? To be brutally honest and in stark contrast to my earlier days, I have to admit it’s not something I’m even looking forward to. The bitter taste of defeat at Old Trafford diminished any feelings I have left for this competition this season.

With the opposition being West Ham United, I really am struggling to pick a side I’d like to see triumph, indeed, I think it’s fair to say I despise them equally. Therefore, after going on about the virtues of the FA Cup and its bygone days, I’m going to disappoint myself and admit that tomorrow I’ll be watching Hearts v Gretna in the Scottish Cup.

Come on Gretna! Who said the romance of the Cup is dead?