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The magic of the FA Cup is truly alive

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And so, here we are again after a very busy week of FA cup madness, where lower league clubs suddenly spring into life and end up victorious against a league team several divisions higher. How does this happen?

Is there a special FA Cup magician sprinkling dust over the clubs of lesser stature?

This is written in jest, somewhat, yet also with an element seriousness, because when we take a look in the FA Cup archives and relive the moment Ronny Radford scored a fabulous - and often played - goal from 30 yards out for Hereford against a much-favoured Newcastle United side in 1972. We can relive the moment Bob Stokoe's Sunderland beat a truly great Leeds United side in the final of 1973.

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How about Sutton United beating Coventry City in the '88/'89 season and then lowly north Wales outfit Wrexham, against all odds, beating First Division Champion Arsenal at the Racecourse in '91/'92. The list is endless. How does this happen?

It is unlikely anyone, anywhere in the world, can explain what makes the FA Cup so exciting, so wondrous, so enthralling.

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Likewise, it is difficult to fathom how a team from the non-league can suddenly play equally as well as their most illustrious opposition.

It just seems to motivate those teams. The players perform to the world, knowing this could be their 'window' through which they can display their talents or sheer hard-work and commitment, to an onlooking world of football fans. Lower league grounds are filled to the brim with fans who, otherwise, would not show their face.

Being fortunate enough to have a ticket for the memorable Wrexham-Arsenal game back in the early 90's was an incredible experience. Standing in the middle of the Kop end, right behind the goal it felt magic just to be there, singing, chanting and cheering the team on.

The Gunners went 1-0 up, at which point many of the fans felt Arsenal - made up of various world-class players including David Seaman and Alan Smith - would go on to win.

It also evoked memories of when the glorious Second Division Wrexham side in the late 70's - consisting of Dixie McNeil, Bobby Shinton and Graham Whittle - went so close to beating Arsenal but lost out to a dubious decision by the referee.

Yet this didn't deter me from believing we could still get a good result. It is this 'belief' that has resonated amongst fans throughout the history of the FA Cup.

Our teams may have had the worst run, may be in a very bleak place in the league, yet when we face top opposition in the cup, we witness the 'magic' referred to earlier.

Wrexham went on to score a fabulous free-kick by Michael Thomas and, in the dying moments, scored through Steve Watkin. The jubilation amongst Wrexham fans could be felt in Australia that evening.

Perhaps it is the fight in the lower placed teams that gives the neutral fan something to cheer. Perhaps it is the golden chance for our team to play against the giants of the Premier League we only get to see on television. Perhaps it is something magical sprinkled onto our club just for the cup.

Whatever it is, long may it reign. This is the uniting of players at all levels. Long may it continue.

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FA Cup
Football

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