Bittersweet FA

Monday 21st January

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Bittersweet FA

It was 150 years ago that representatives of Blackheath Football Club stormed out of the Freemasons' Tavern, aghast that they weren't going to be allowed to hit people, and in their absence the Football Association was formed. Blackheath, of course, went on to help invent rugby, where they were allowed to hit people to their hearts' content, drink nine pints of ale, stand on the bar and stick radishes up their bottoms. All's well that ends well.

There's little point asking where football will be in another 150 years. By that stage, what remains of mankind will have more pressing issues than the decline of 4-2-3-1. Super Sunday and Jamie Redknapp will be replaced by hazardous foraging missions into the still-glowing embers of our burned-out cities. We will draw our excitement from vicious hand-to-hand battles with intelligent, organised gangs of mutated alley cats. In the meantime however, how can the FA improve?

To pick just one subject from millions, it might be nice if they stopped banging on about the 'magic' of the FA Cup. We do beg your pardon, the magic of the FA Cup with Budweiser. There's not much bleeding magic at 4am when you have to get on a bus down to Brighton because the TV companies have scheduled a lunchtime kick-off.  And we like Ronnie Radford as much as the next man (unless that man is the type of git who points out the obvious foul in the build-up), but can we focus on the future before we get misty-eyed about the past? Until someone sees sense and puts a place in the Champions League in with the prize money, you're going to continue to see weakened teams and empty seats.

So, enjoy your celebrations, chaps. You've kept the sport ticking over for 150 years and you deserve some bubbly and a canapé or two. But when you get back to work, let's start solving problems, eh?

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