Aston Villa deserve credit for FA Cup final appearance against Arsenal

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Most Aston Villa fans will want to forget Saturday’s FA Cup final, but there will be some who will, in years to come, look back in fondness despite it being the joint biggest defeat in FA Cup final history.

It would have been a first trip to Wembley Stadium for many and they will cherish it. A sunny day full of colour and the smell of fried onions which, in this context at least, is an aroma to behold (not forever, though).

As a neutral watching at home, the whole day was made that little bit more special and different by the BBC’s near 12 hour long coverage from 8:30am, even if a few of the programmes they showed were repeats. But the old fascinating footage of the build-up and highlights of the 1973 final between Leeds United and Sunderland, featuring Bobby Charlton, Bob Wilson and Brian Clough as the pundits, was bewitching in today's context.


MOTD Kickabout which, apart from the over-grinning TV kids’ presenter, was amusing – an FA Pup Final between Arsenal and Aston Villa presented by puppet dogs, Hacker and Dodge, and featuring lots of dog-based puns both in the reporting and the names of the three players on each side, including Woofciech Szczesny, Stray Given and Christian Ben-Tek-Me-For-A-Walk. Great stuff and just at the right length of time.

It would have been good if we were allowed access to the club’s team coaches as well as the interesting, historical mini documentaries that are always a good watch before a game, but no matter. Anyway, it would more than likely have been the usual clichéd banalities spouted from the players while their oversized headphones hung round their neck impatient to get back to their ears. Also, the scenes of the fans in their opposing colours coming together being interviewed etc…was good to see. Aside from all that it was an entertaining match even if it was lacking in tension and drama due to the gulf in standards between the two sides on the day.

The Premier League may have been the most disappointing in years, but this was undoubtedly one of the best FA Cup seasons in recent history when you think of Cambridge United’s draw with Manchester United in the fourth round and top-flight high fliers, Southampton, Manchester City and Chelsea all getting knocked out of the competition on the same day by Crystal Palace, Middlesborough and Bradford City respectively.

The manner in which the Bantams knocked out Jose Mourinho’s side made it even more special. Swansea City were knocked out by the Championship’s Blackburn Rovers while Tottenham Hotspur were ousted by Leicester City in a replay at White Hart Lane in the same round.

And so it went on with Bradford then beating Sunderland to reach the quarter-finals. Only Reading managed to make the semis out of the ‘small boys’, but they took Arsenal to the wire and it was only a rare calamity from their goalkeeper that cost them. All of which led to Saturday. The only thing I will say is that the no-advert policy on the BBC - which I wholeheartedly prefer - gives one hardly any time to make lunch or a cuppa without missing something. Let's hope it stays with the BBC, though. As someone would comment on a YouTube video he or she liked – ‘official’ thumbs or no thumbs – ‘‘more please.’’

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