The FA Cup – Do you still believe in magic?

After a weekend of FA Cup football and the draw for the first round proper Monday evening, you wouldn’t be surprised if FA cup fever started catching up and down the country.

Those early stages are where the hopes and dreams start to build, in the hope some memories and stories can be created along the way.

 

I started looking back to previous FA Cup stories that have caught my eye in recent years. One in particular from last season, saw a player known by very few, catch the eyes of millions.

Before last season my only real knowledge of this lad was his ability to lead my Blyth Spartan side to league football on previous ‘Football Manager’ games, but in terms of the player himself, there is more than meets the eye to this semi-professional footballer.

Robbie Dale, a player who has spent most of his career with the Northumberland club, has been dubbed by critics ‘the best player to never play professional football’ and by the fans who watch him every week, Robbiedinho.

So why Robbie Dale? He caught my eye last year after Blyth Spartans, for the second time in six seasons, reached the third round only to be eliminated by Championship side Birmingham. Blyth who play six tiers below their opponents, took a shock 2-0 lead, Dale scoring both, with his second being one good enough for any player’s scrapbook.

Though they still lost the tie, it was a cup run which saw them play eight games, two more than overall winners Arsenal and one that definitely will be remembered.

It was certainly a moment that showed the ‘magic’ of the FA Cup, something which at times has been missing over the last decade. Bigger clubs are showing less respect to the competition, with smaller clubs preferring to concentrate on their own league form, rather than a cup run. But even with this in consideration, the FA Cup fire still flickers on.

We all love those underdog stories, with no doubt the majority of readers making sure they recorded Bradford’s tremendous comeback against Chelsea last year. It’s a competition that throughout history throws the form book out the window and leaves bookies in tears.

The likes of relegated Wigan Athletic beating Manchester City with almost the last kick of the game to lift the country’s most prestigious honour – games that leave even the most stubborn of neutral screaming for joy.

It’s a magical competition the FA Cup and one that Mr Robbie Dale became a part of last year.

I mentioned earlier that there is more than meets the eye to this 31-year old semi-professional striker and if you’re as curious as me, you would have found some very interesting facts.

 

Robbie Dale is no ordinary footballer, seemingly not driven by fame or money, or even one driven by the standard in which he practices his trade. No, Robbie Dale in fact is just a simple barman who plays football on the side.

Someone who has had many offers and trials throughout the years, turning them all down, even a contract from football league side Oxford. He is simply someone who enjoys his current standard of life and doesn’t want it to change, a quite refreshing sentiment in a world driven by money and greed.

The 31-year-old has spoken many times in the past that he may look back and regret the decisions he has made in his career, stating he probably could have worked and pushed himself harder, but in reality he seems very laid back with the whole situation.

If this was me, I would have grabbed every chance I could get and his story somewhat angers me in the sense that his talent has almost been wasted.

But in truth, my anger probably stems from the fact that for me, playing professional football is the dream, but in Robbie Dale’s case he seems to be living his.

It can’t be all bad though – captain of a side who twice have reached the FA Cup third round, playing on TV to millions across the world and being a club icon and legend. He is almost a modern day Matthew Le Tissier and at least Robbie Dale has won the Northumberland Senior Cup.

A player you could call Mr Blyth, someone who doesn’t like to be recognisned by his own supporters, someone who doesn’t want the fame, even if it’s just from a few hundred people. Simply a humble man who enjoys what many call the simple things in life, something he just doesn’t try and hide.

He mentioned a comment in his pre-match interview last year,

the fans know what the FA Cup means, it still has that magic

and that’s what is missing sometimes with football. All fans should know this magic, not just the lower league underdogs, even the big boys.

We should all feel the same depression from elimination and elation from winning, not just referring to it as a Mickey Mouse cup. This trophy in essence once defined English football and I claw for those days to return.

So with the FA Cup drawing ever closer, with the opportunity for all to experience new memories, I ask, do you still believe in magic?

The Author

Mr Blue

Part time betting tipster, turned football blogger. After years of boring my friends and family, I now attempt to bore the world.

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