Crawley at Old Trafford stirs memories of FA Cup magic


Crawley’s historic date with Manchester United in the FA Cup this weekend will restore a little of the great competition’s faded magic as the Blue Square Premier team attempts to pull off the unthinkable at Old Trafford.
It also brings to mind a couple of books about the FA Cup to entrance those football fans who believe that the world’s oldest knockout competition ought to be celebrated with enthusiasm rather than be left to wither as the Premier League and the Champions League grow ever more gargantuan.
Paul Harrison’s FA Cup Giantkillers, published by The History Press, recalls the finest hours of minnows through history, from the victories of Boston Town and Spennymoor United in the 1920s to the more recent exploits of Tamworth and Burscough.
Football historian Harrison has combined much research with good use of photographs, newspaper cuttings and memorabilia to produce a lavishly illustrated book that takes an affectionate look at the who secured famous victories for non-League sides against Football League clubs.
Some of the stories -- such as that of Tottenham, for example, who were the first non-league side to win the FA Cup -- are well known. Others, such as Chilton Colliery‘s defeat of Rochdale in 1925, are now largely forgotten.

Follow the link to buy FA Cup Giantkillers.

Apart from those days in which the mighty were felled, the magic of the FA Cup was largely encapsulated by the day of the final at Wembley, which would enjoy unrivalled attention in the pre-Premier League era.
For decades the only domestic fixture to be screened live on television, the Cup Final at its peak of popularity was a broadcast event that took up much of the day, with coverage occupying considerably more airtime than the couple of hours it took to decide the outcome.
It is that era towards which journalist Matt Eastley paid homage in From Bovril to Champagne, which focuses in particular on the 1970s, which many regard as the greatest decade in the history of the competition, which began with the first final to be replayed, after Chelsea and Leeds finished 2-2 at Wembley, and ended with Arsenal’s extraordinary 3-2 victory over Manchester United.  The period also included Sunderland’s downing of Leeds in the 1973 final and Southampton’s win over Manchester United in 1976.
Eastley, a regular contributor to the football nostalgia magazine Backpass, interviewed football fans from many parts of the world who had attended finals in the 1970s and invited them to recount their stories.
Setting their memories in context by interweaving the news reports of the day as well as the television programmes and pop songs that were popular, the author attempted to recreate the atmosphere of an era in which the FA Cup Final was a unique and momentous event, when the nation really did stop for a football match.  Many who have read it believe he succeeded in his goal.

Follow the link to buy From Bovril to Champagne: When the FA Cup Really Mattered 



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