The game is about glory
Danny Blanchflower's immortal words are often used by Spurs fans, and today's FA cup final showed the truth of them. Wigan Athletic, a team that went from the non leagues in 1978 to winning the biggest cup competition in the land in 2013. A modern day Wimbledon. Dave Whelan's painful experience in the 1960 final added to the poignancy of the occasion.
This year has been full of underdog stories. Bradford City, a fourth tier team making it to a major cup final, beating three top flight teams along the way. Swansea City, the first Welsh team to make the Premiership, winning the trophy. And now Wigan. Relegation threatened, under resourced, perennial strugglers beating the reigning premier league champions in the FA cup final. Sky Sports pundits were arguing that Wigan's two Premiership matches either side of the final were more important, as these are the ones that will determine Wigan's Premier League future. It's a sign of the times and the diminished significance that is now afforded to the FA cup. The game these days is about money, not glory. The Premier League is money. The Champion's League is more money. The FA cup is a holiday, its final a single, frivolous day, basking in the sunshine but where does it get you? You have to get back to reality. It's worth winning, but if you had the choice, you'd take fourth. Or seventeenth. Because that's where the money is.
Danny Blanchflower's message should be held dear by all football fans and yet it is lost amid the financial pressures of modern football, the drive to keep up with the Joneses. Many, probably most of us, would take a top four finish over a trophy, given the choice. Today's final should remind us of Danny's words. The game is about glory. Today was about the weak overcoming the strong. (Though it was most of all about Wigan winning, which does contradict Danny slightly. You can't win the FA cup without winning.) And in these success driven times, you could argue that Wigan had a more successful season than Manchester City, even if they get relegated; they have won a trophy this year.
Wigan's victory was more than just David beating Goliath. In its way it meant more than Wimbledon beating Liverpool in 1988. It was a victory for romance over fiscal pragmatism. Their FA cup win seems so much more fulfilling than grim Premier League survival. Wimbledon have long since been relegated, indeed, they barely even exist any more, but they are held immortal by that single glorious day. Wigan may stay in the Premiership, or they may be relegated, but today they made history. The memory of their FA cup win will endure longer than that of their presence in the top flight. Which makes a mockery of the suggestion that a trip to the Emirates could ever be more important than a Wembley final. Their name is on the trophy and it always will be. To Manchester City it would have been just another trophy. To Wigan it was their place in football folklore.
Written by Yorkspur