Pink balls, Premier League reserves and lack of giant-killing

Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008 but lost a first-round replay to Aldershot this season
Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008 but lost a first-round replay to Aldershot this season
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Sports editor Mark Lea’s column on ‘the magic of the FA Cup’

It’s one of the oldest cliches in football but ‘the magic of the FA Cup’ will fade away over the next few months.

Commonly known as ‘the world’s best knockout competition’ – yet simply not the same as it used to be.

Now they play with a pink ball (why?) and Premier League managers view these games as the perfect time to rotate their squads.

For non-League and lower-division clubs I’m sure the FA Cup retains some of that magic with the prospect of facing one of the big guns.

Even in the qualifying rounds there are dreams of making progress and earning much-needed funds which could make such a huge difference.

But now we’ve reached the third round where so many ‘supporters’ all over the country probably think the FA Cup starts.

It kicked off in August but they don’t really care until you can see the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool live on TV (so just like any other week).

It was perfectly right for BT Sport and BBC to select the games at Yeovil Town, AFC Wimbledon and Dover Athletic.

But it defies belief why they would want to show Arsenal against Hull City and Everton at home to West Ham United. What about Blyth Spartans, Wrexham and Gateshead? Those were the games which I wanted to see.

The third round is all about non-League sides and smaller clubs from the Football League who have a big chance of ‘giant-killing’.

Yes, it was a repeat of last season’s final but I had no interest in watching the Gunners beat Hull again.

And even though I’m a passionate Hammer, I don’t think the trip to Goodison Park should be among the televised games. Plus why does it have to be played on a Tuesday night?

There is nothing magical about two Premier League clubs facing each other at this stage.