By Ryan Fleming
It felt good. Really good. No, I’m not talking about an evening walk with someone far more attractive than I should be spending time with. Nor am I referring to getting a nonexistent raise or finding a real full-time job. What I’m gloating about is the FA Cup – all domestic cups for that matter.
Back in the good ol’ days Leeds United used to be the cream of the crop. Not just in England, but the world. Nowadays they are seemingly trapped in England’s Championship, continuing to fight, scratch and claw their way back up to supremacy, or at least a chance at it. This year could be the year that Leeds reach promotion to the EPL, currently fifth, good enough for the promotion playoff.
But now, unlike back in the 1970’s when things were simpler. Honestly, Leeds will never reach the glory or come close to the glory of their past. That goes for teams like Queen’s Park Rangers, Celtic, Rangers, Ajax, Benfica or even the basically unheard of Clubb Brugge (yes, they made it to a final). These are now the days of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. This is not implying that these teams weren’t dominate before – they were – but now they stand above the rest even more.
Which is why club football, on all domestic levels, is just so damn awesome. Who would of thunk it that Notts County (who?) would have downed Sunderland. Notts County is in the equivalent of England’s third-best league. The Black Cats aren’t known to be a powerhouse by any means, but really Steve Bruce? Really? Upsets like this are great for the game. They bring back a time when teams that are now mostly irrelevant can be utterly glorious – bringing down a big opponent like a heap of melted chocolate.
I have respect for many supporters that found a connection to a club that they now, due to all the money, the laughable contracts and the utter disdain that goes around the sport these days, have no chance at winning something important. But, as a fan of one of those such teams, what I find truly enjoyable is the endless fight. Everybody loves an underdog, right?
Cup football brings back a special part of the game that has been lost over the years. Leagues are evermore dominating and money writes the scripts of which teams will succeed and which will struggle infinitely. Though domestically, the chase for the cup, as we know, can bring upon surprising results – giving a lowly team, once again at least for one day the chance to become the headline grabbers of the following day’s newspaper (I mean email). Ah, the good ol’ days.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.