Is there a better moment in sport than when the FA Cup is presented to the captain of the winning side, and he turns to the crowd and raises the venerable trophy in the air? For moneybag millionaire players and small boys the world over, the dream is still the same. As Danny Blanchflower said ?It?s all about the glory.?
The first trophy, minted in 1871, and known as the ?little tin idol,? was stolen in 1895 and has never been seen since. A replica was made, and it was used up until 1910, when it was presented to Lord Kinnaird, the FA President. Fattorini & Sons of Bradford made the third iteration of the FA Cup but by 1992, it was deemed to be too fragile, and was retired. FA Cup 4.0, an exact replica, has been presented to winning captains since 1992. So whilst the FA Cup is the world?s oldest domestic football competition, the trophy isn?t; the Scottish Cup takes that crown.
I have two special memories of the FA Cup. Firstly, as a 13-year-old living in Southampton when the Saints won the Cup in 1976: the impact of that win on the town was truly glorious. And secondly, Terry Fenwick?s equaliser for QPR in the 1982 final. I have known many magical times in my life: my marriage, the birth of my children, seeing the Taj Mahaland Niagara Falls - but I have never, ever known as much unconfined joy as I felt in that single encapsulated instant when QPR equalised. The FA Cup can do that to you, and for that reason, for most English football fans, and for me, it will always be the world?s greatest sporting trophy.
FIVE FUN FACTS
Manchester United?s Kevin Moran became the first player to be sent off in an FA Cup final in 1985. Arsenal?s Jos? Antonio Reyes also saw red in 2005, though curiously, both ten-man teams went on to win.
The only time the FA Cup has been won by a non-English team was when Cardiff City took the honours in 1927, thanks to a mistake by Arsenal?s Welsh goalie.
Scottish club Queen?s Park appeared as losing finalists in 1884 and 1885. Blackburn Rovers won both matches to ensure English pride remained intact!
For all the romance of the Cup, the last team from outside the top flight to prevail was West Ham United in 1980.
English football?s record score of 26-0 occurred when Preston North End beat Hyde in an 1887 FA Cup tie.
Extract from ?The World?s 50 Greatest Sporting Trophies? by Jerry Gardner, just published, and available from www.publishpromote.com, cost ?15 (about ?13) including p&p.