UK & World News

  • 17 May 2014, 6:49

New Silver And Renewed Interest In Old FA Cup

They still get it around the world, and here in the UK there are good reasons still to respect the FA Cup Final.

With three Germans in the likely Arsenal team to face Hull City at Wembley, the Cologne Advertiser has been talking up the planet's original football competition, and referred to the Cup as the "legendary silver trophy".

In fact a subsidiary point of interest this year is a brand new version, made by silversmiths Thomas Lyte of London.

The old one is fragile and too delicate to repair. The FA will keep it, at Wembley.

The new model - only the fourth in the cup's 143-year history - is an exact replica of the 1911 version.

Those figures and dates serve to underline the longevity of the cup.

What has been in question is its importance, in a footballing world much changed from the days when the Wembley final was the only domestic match shown live on TV.

The cup, however, has been fighting back.

This year the final has been restored to its traditional place of honour as the only major match of the English weekend (albeit with a 5pm kickoff), instead of sharing the limelight with Premier League games.

Managers of leading clubs (with notable exceptions) have been less inclined than a year or two ago to field weakened teams.

With the emergence of Manchester City in particular among the dominant powers, even giants like Arsenal need to pursue all avenues that might lead to a trophy.

The Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been justifiably proud of the fact that his team have seen off Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton to reach the final.

The FA have resisted all suggestions that there should be seeding.

For Wenger, victory over Hull would bring the first silverware for nine years, and go some way to fending off his increasingly numerous critics.

In his team, we may see Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, both returning from serious injuries and desperate to prove they are fit to wear the England shirt at next month's World Cup.

Although Arsenal's opponents are a fellow Premier League club, it remains a David and Goliath encounter, with bookies offering odds as long as 6-1 against a Hull victory.

Hull CITY that is - though the Wembley occasion, broadcast worldwide, can only encourage further airing of the debate about the club's name.

Owner Assem Allam is determined to change it to Hull Tigers to give the club more global marketability.

A group of supporters is mounting determined and vociferous opposition. Watch for his interviews and their banners.

It's Hull's first FA Cup Final, Arsenal's 18th.

But last year Wigan surprised almost everyone by beating hot favourites Manchester City.

With all due respect to Wenger, most neutrals will be hoping Hull emulate them, no matter what they're going to be called next season.

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