Recalling a cup fever epidemic

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The romance of the FA Cup, the oldest cup competition in the world, returned last weekend with four Premier league teams succumbing to opposition from the lower leagues.

This included the top three teams, Chelsea, Man City and Southampton, while fourth place Manchester United could only manage a 0-0 draw against Cambridge United from League Two.

So what is it about the FA Cup which seems to turn statistics and probability on its head, making the underdog believe they can achieve the impossible, and the megamillions teams of Chelsea and Man City buckle under the heavy weight of expectation?

Whatever the reason, be it luck, freak occurrence, divine intervention or a combination of all three, the elusive FA Cup trophy and that childhood dream of playing at Wembley remains an enigma for fans, teams and players alike.

I have vivid childhood memories of playing my own cup final in my mum’s sitting room whilst waiting for the real final to start each year.

With my own running commentary, like Brian Glover in the film Kes, running backwards and forwards kicking a plastic ball from one end of the room to the other.

I lifted that plastic Tupperware trophy time and again, scoring hat-trick after hat-trick in the process.

Pompey were in the 3rd and 4th divisions around this time in the early and mid-70s and whilst I had been told many times about how The Blues had held the FA Cup the longest, by default of the Second World War, and won back-to-back 1st Division titles in 1949 and 1950, I never dreamt I would get to see my beloved team lift that very trophy during my lifetime.

I still held that belief when my son asked me to take him to the now-infamous American NFL game played at the new Wembley stadium back in 2007.

So whilst not a fan of American football, I thought it would be a chance to visit the new stadium, being unlikely to ever see Pompey play there.

But the very next year, riding our luck throughout the competition, our city experienced an epidemic of cup fever. Not only did I get to see the Blues lift the FA Cup, but my then 13-year old son was there too (pictured left). Priceless!

Antiques expert John appears on shows including Cash In The Attic and Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is and also runs Nesbits auction house in Southsea. E-mail or call (023) 9229 5568.