Why this will be the best Cup Final day in years

30 May

Let’s be honest. As Arsenal and Aston Villa prepare to do battle in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday evening, for us Brentford fans there is little immediate interest. Any hope of enjoying a run in this oldest of tournaments (this is the 134th final) ended at the hands of Brighton in the third round as a 2-0 home defeat saw us bow out at the first attempt.

And stop! Hold that thought. Even if you don’t support Aston Villa or Arsenal there is plenty to keep the neutral involved as the BBC have restored one of the most noble cup traditions – wall to wall coverage in the build up.

Recent seasons have seen ‘the light channel’ treat our showpiece match as, almost, an embarrassing afterthought – offering little pre-match entertainment beyond Adrian Chiles (now residing in the ‘where are they now’ files) mugging up to camera behind a portable pitchside lectern.

But back on BBC, with Gary Linker at the helm, we are being transported back to those glory days of the late 70s/early 80s when the Cup final, and preparations for it, were a BIG thing.

Since Lineker wrestled the highlights from Chiles, the BBC have performed miracles

Since Lineker wrestled the highlights from Chiles, the BBC have performed miracles

Taking a quick look at the schedule of events, we are about to be spoiled in a manner not seen since the Ferrero Rocher ambassador hosted his last reception.

12.10 Football Focus – Dan Walker and guests looks ahead to the game between Arsenal and Aston Villa.

13.00 The FA Cup – Gary Lineker on the road to FA Cup glory. In which our host meets men whose careers and lives were changed by the FA Cup. Presumably , this will feature the contractual obligation of an appearance from Ronnie Radford and mention of his, so called, rocket.

14.05 TOTP2- One of the highlights of the day as Mark Radcliffe rounds up the best and worst football records from the TOTP archives. Hopefully we’ll be seeing Chas and Dave, Ossie Ardiles and his wonderful solo “In the cup for Tott-ing-ham” (and if you can live with the ropey footage, that magical moment crops up at 1.57).

Spurs: come for Ossie; stay for Chas and Dave in the greatest FA Cup song of all time

14.30 Pointless Celebrities – not an exposé on Kerry Katona and the cast of ‘gogglebox’ but, infact, a topical episode of the popular quiz show. Featuring footballers

15.25 The FA Cup – the road to Wembley – This, the story of this season’s tournament, told through the eyes of famous fans. Expect Piers Morgan to be mugging it up for the camera. Bonus points if the BBC have secured HRH Prince William (although David Cameron more likely – if he can remember who he claims to support)

15.55. Build up. Gary is back, again, with all the build up from the stadium.

17.15. The final. Five hours after it all began, we cut back to the stadium for live coverage of the game.

The only sour note to all this being that there isn’t an episode of ‘Allo ‘Allo in the fall guy position straight after. Should the game over run due to the ,so called, lottery of penalties then this would be immediately booted into touch to some graveyard slot on BBC 2. Or, more likely, never to be seen again despite the assurance that “this will be shown at a later date”.

I support Brentford but I love football and all the fine traditions that go with it. On Saturday, the BBC promise to have me hooked from start to finish.

And if you want to read more about how Brentford failed in the FA Cup (this time) along with the rest of the incredible events of 2014/15, the amalgamated Last Word season compendium: Tales from the football village (from Saunders territory to unchartered ground), is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full.

Running from July 2014- May 2015 it contains some additional material and is available for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme.

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