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The game is about glory

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

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Sunday May 12 2013
Time: 7:58AM


I would take the glory of an FA Cup final win at Wembley a million times over finishing 4th, 5th, 17th or wherever in the league. Apart from the game itself, i still remember all sorts of details from THAT day in May 1991. When i got up, what i did, who i was with. In fact i still remember a lot of THAT day in May 1981!! Well done Wigan, you have made it into football folklore. Your fans will remember this weekend forever. The broad importance of the FA Cup may have been diluted by money, mass football TV coverage etc but for those fans of the club who actually win it its exactly the same as its always been.
12/05/2013 08:21:00
Ah 1991... What a year. That semi final (3-1 has ever since been my favourite score line) then beating forest, who my brother supported, in the final
12/05/2013 08:31:00
Two things. Firstly many Spurs fans seem to twist Danny's words, he never thought there was anything glorious about failure. Secondly if Wigan go down and don't come back up again then the cup win will just be a footnote in history.
12/05/2013 08:38:00
Living in the past, not for me SRV. How many spurs fans would swap with Wigan today? Count me out.
12/05/2013 08:42:00
Jod and Tophobunty, your views are a sad reflection on modern football and the modern football fan. And they call the PL 'progression' from the 'dark days'. LOL.
12/05/2013 08:49:00
If Wigan go down, they go down. Jaysus, despite what Sky Sports tell you there IS life outside the PL. Football is played up and down the country in hundreds of matches from ameatur level to semi-pro to the football league. Doesn't mean the fans and players of those clubs aren't enjoying their football does it? Otherwise football wouldn't exist at all outside the PL! If they're in the Championship next season they'll go again, try to get promoted, they'll win games and lose games, its just the same except they'll be outside the over-glorified, money obsessed PL which perhaps is a good thing! And whatever happens they will ALWAYS have this weekend to fall-back on to tell the grandchildren about and die happy. The glory of one cup win over 10 relegation fights and being humped most weeks - no contest for me.
12/05/2013 08:59:00
StillRickyVilla - And if Wigan are a club vegetating in the lower leagues do you really think kids will be interested in listening to the ramblings of their grand parents on some ancient victory ?
12/05/2013 09:08:00
As is often the case, the truth is more nuanced. It's about finding the balance between heady glory and hardheaded business sense. And realising that glory is not about failure, and that the sweetest victories are those that are the longest in coming. Wigan will be able to celebrate what was a tremendous and thoroughly deserved victory for years to come but that trophy won't keep their best players at the DW next year if they go down, and it won't attract the kind of players and/or investment that they need to get back up. They'll become one of those freakish statistical anomalies, like Birmingham and Portsmouth, but they'll find that there's precious little glory playing in the Championship and their cup win won't attract more young supporters to their cause. For more than purely selfish reasons I hope Wigan stay up, because they are a shining example of how to run a football club properly. Sensible husbandry of scant resources and a desire to play attractive football.
12/05/2013 09:12:00
What a fabulous piece of writing. I was at Wembley. As a Wigan fan I totally agree with what you are saying. Someone once said of us "Wigan is a bit of a nothing club". They can't really say that about us any more. We have indeed written our name in the history books. Thank you for writing such a touching piece.
12/05/2013 09:20:00
That's well put darkenvai. I too hope they stay up, and not just because it would likely mean they did us a huge favour along the wat. the fa cup win has added a fairytale ending to a great story. That they ever got into the premiership was glorious. That they have stayed for so long is amazing. I would be interested to hear from wigan fans, if they could trade this fa cup triumph for guaranteed premier league survival this season would they do it?
12/05/2013 09:30:00
Jod, as i said, football is football. Football is not the Premier League! There are hundreds of thousands of REAL fans (not the plastic ones that support a PL club cos they're on TV) who support clubs up and down the land all through the leagues including semi-professional and below. If i was a kid growing up in Wigan i would fully support my local club whatever the league they were in and get the same enjoyment out of the football (in fact going to lower league games its actually far more fun than the tourist/corporate world of PL football).
12/05/2013 09:49:00
Hayzee, I have a mate who supports Bradford, and sat through some epic matches with him on their route to wembley. On that day it wasnt to be bit the fact they even got there was unbelievable, we wont see the like again for decades. (i beliveve they knocked you out along the way). Bradford and Wigan serve as a reminder that there's more to football than the premiership or champions league. of course we all want it but its been to the detriment of all else.
12/05/2013 10:19:00
SRV my views are mine and they are forward thinking. I am interested in spurs moving forward, building a better squad full of talented players, mobile, with pace and technical ability. I want to be able to achieve that in today's game, it,s not possible to change the game of times past. I enjoyed them and they are good memories. Let's focus on today and the future, it's sensible.
12/05/2013 10:25:00
That was a very moving, thought provoking piece Yorkspur. Football has changed so much over the years. I started supporting Spurs in 1960, and throughout the 60's I remember the country practically coming to a standstill on Cup Final day. It was more or less the only live game on during the year. No matter who was playing everyone that liked football watched it. As kids everyone was exited. Wembley itself was an iconic stadium. The build up was always riveting. I was lucky to watch Spurs v Chelsea in 67. In 1966 as a young teen, I saw all of England's matches in the World Cup. Now that was glory! But yesterday, I found myself down the pub, feeling it was just another game. I was more interested in reading my newspaper to be honest. I took notice when they made an absolute mauling of "Abide with Me", that would have had my dear old dad turning in his grave. But as the game went on I became that young boy again willing the underdog to win. What a great day. And, as in the old days, the Cup Final produced so many heroes and other stories, such as that of Dave Whelan. Well done Wigan!
12/05/2013 10:36:00
Got to agree with Jacobslad. The cup final was the day for me from 1966 onwards! It was the end of the season. It was the pinnacle of glory for all domestic football. Yesterday I chose to help my daughter with her revision - never watched a minute. It wasn't the teams - it's my view of the timing ie before the end of the season and 5.15. I love the fact that Wigan won and hope that they survive in the PL- for Dave Whelan and then they'll retain Martinez as well. Any other manager would have been sacked by now!
12/05/2013 11:26:00
Little value in quoting something said 50 years ago. Football has changed who knows what Blanchflower and Co would say now. I actually agree that the game is about trophies but its not as simple as for example choosing between PL or Europa, we took the Cups on this season and failed to make even a Semi Final arguably at the expense of finishing in the CL which is where the best players and managers want to be.
12/05/2013 11:55:00
The modern football fan, 2nd, 3rd or 4th over a trophy, premier league top 4 and champions league that's all that matters, and of course not forgetting the balance sheet. The modern supporter goes to watch soccer with the guys and dreams of finishing 4th , where as the real supporters go to watch a football match with the lads and hope to win a trophy every year. Well done Wigan on putting some silverware in the cabinet, that's what it's all about.
12/05/2013 12:00:00
jod, you're unbelievable!! You only need to see the reaction of the players, the manager and the owner, to see exactly what WINNING the FA Cup meant to them all. And you also expect kids to not give a damn that their team actually won the biggest & oldest domestic cup competition IN THE WORLD? I actually pity you & pretty much any other 'modern day supporter'.. Football is ONLY about WINNING. If you only care about how much money our club can make, what's the point in bothering with each match? You may as well just sit back & ignore all of the matches & results, just wait for the annual financial reports to come out then fill your boots!!
12/05/2013 12:11:00
Thank ***** for Wigan. I have to admit, I want both now - Cup glories and CL qualification, not least because I'm sick of the same rich teams winning everything all the time and we are one of the nearest to breaking the boring routine a bit (even tho we are a big club to those below us). I'll always support the underdog and would honestly get bored if Spurs became a nailed on winner like Man U. Dead chuffed Wigan won and hopeful Spurs can get another FA Cup win again soon. Our first that I can remember was when Ricky bamboozled the City defence that damp evening back in '81 - only on TV, mind - but that was the first time I'd seen 'my' team win anything (hard growing up hearing England were World Champs and then living through the 70's and 80's and so glad I don't give a ***** about them, now). Well run smaller clubs can survive relegation and PL isn't everything to everyone (altho we'd be in the ***** if it happened) - my bro-in-law is glad Reading went down so he can watch them winning again. I miss the days when teams like Ipswich or Forest could win the league cos they had a cracking manager and a focused club work ethic. Hope Everton (doubt it) Wigan (hopeful), QPR (nah) and Newcastle (Hmm?) can all do us a flavour over the next 8 days. COYS!
12/05/2013 13:15:00
coopsieyid - You are missing the point. The fans are rightly ecstatic ON THE DAY. But it doesn't affect the long term situation. Look at what happened to Wimbledon after their triumph over Liverpool. Kicked out by their local council who didn't want a football club in their borough, the club making the best of a bad situation by departing for Milton Keynes and the replacement club struggling at the wrong end of the table. The exploits of the crazy gang are a page in history, but sadly that's all they are. History only matters to clubs who can keep making it.
12/05/2013 13:22:00
Then our own history counts for $hit & there's no point in supporting us anymore, is there? Forget the fact that we set the standards for everybody else to follow. Tell me exactly what our own club would be if it wasn't for our history?
12/05/2013 13:37:00
coopsieyid - Depends on what the future holds, I can't predict that. At the moment we are treading water, at some point we need to push on. The good thing is a club can have long fallow periods as long as it eventually comes back. What is certain is whittering on how great we were 50 odd years ago just makes us look stupid.
12/05/2013 15:25:00
0 one is wittering on about how great we were 50 years ago. We won the double, the cup, the ECWC, in successive years but that didn't make us great. What was great was the whole ethos of football, as a sport. Of course players like greavsie must have nightmares thinking of what they might have earned in today's game. Anyway, its just different now that's all. There are plusses and minuses, but as other posters have said football doesn't start and finish with the premiership does it? This morning, this afternoon, all sorts of young and old guys will be living their dreams on parks all over the country. And in Wigan such players will have an extra bounce in their play! That is football.
12/05/2013 15:48:00
As somebody who was privaliged to be around to enjoy triumphs in both the Arthur Rowe era, and the Billy Nick era, I can assure you that winning trophies is a wonderful feeling of achievement, especially if done in the grand manner as we did. History will most definitely remember that era, as we not only won things, but we were pioneers, we did things that nobody in the developed English game had done before, like the double, and winning a European trophy, all by playing a brand of football that was the blue print from which the modern game was developed. So no Spurs supporter should dare to doubt the impact of our former triumphs have had on history. I would like to congratulate Martinez and Wigan, not just for winning the FA Cup, but for putting teams on the pitch suggesting that they took the competition seriously enough to try to win it. Many clubs pay no respect to what is after all the foremost domestic club competition in world football.
12/05/2013 16:55:00
Did I read this correctly - Wimbledon barely exist???!!!? IT SHOWS HOW NARROW MINDED AND HOW LITTLE THIS WRITER KNOWS ABOUT FOOTBALL. Made it into the football league in 9 years, currently playing in League 2 and barely exist? I guess from the view of a premiership supporter, any club outside of the premiership and championship "barely exist". What is the definition of being in existence please explain? It's sad really, cos I quite like Spurs and desperate for them to make the top 4 - I'm not so sure now.
13/05/2013 08:37:00
Congrats to Wigan, sorry guys but I for one believe we should be playing for Honours and not for pounds!! I think most of us and most of the goons down the road would have loved to be in the shoes of Wigan at about 7pm on saturday night!! You can chase league and cup glory if you get the squad balance right and strengthen correctly in the transfer windows. I do believe this slow protracted New Stadium Saga has probably cost us getting in the right players when properly needed to push on.
13/05/2013 08:50:00
“The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It’s nothing of the kind. The game is about glory. It is about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.” It's not about a competition, or even winning above all. It's about winning in a way that endears you to people that don't support you and makes others want to emulate what you do on the pitch. He and Bill Nick achieved that with Spurs, Guardiola did it with Barca and Ferguson (as much as it pains me to say it, although it's good talking about him in the past tense) did it with Man Utd. Wigan's glory is different. They are the underdog, the 'peoples choice' with one shot, fighting against a club who are trying to emulate what Danny did- winning in style and with a flourish. That this still happens in our game is to be celebrated.
13/05/2013 09:40:00
Afc I was referring to old Wimbledon, the one that turned into mk dons. York city are my second team as ive lived here ten years now, so am fully aware of Wimbledon and what they have achieved. No disrespect was intended. See you at bootham crescent next season
13/05/2013 11:17:00
Yorkspur, you live in York, and I have lived in Scarborough (Billy Nick's home town) since 1965, so my "second team" was Scarborough FC. Talking of Wigan, I well remember, and find it extremely frustrating, that in the 70s at Wembley in the FA Trophy final, Scarborough beat Wigan Athletic. Scarborough FC has now disappeared after going bust, following a short tenure in the football league, and Wigan are a PL side and FA Cup winners, how times change.
13/05/2013 12:06:00
You can win the FA Cup with 6 wins and a bit of luck with the draw. CL qualification takes consistency over 38 games, playing the best teams in the country home and away. It's all good and well talking about the glory of winning and the great memories this creates, we already know all of this, but I want what is best for my club and it's future and in 2013 that is CL football or at least regularly competing for that honour. I will always support Spurs even if we never won another game, or got relegated to Div 2, but personally I would take a top 4 finish over a trophy, (except the CL), as this would do more for my club right now than a day out at Wembley filled with good memories for the supporters. Although, once you can regularly boast CL football, trophies are a must to continue your progression.
Paul - THFC Forever
13/05/2013 14:28:00
Before the CL was invented, winning a domestic cup and then playing in Europe was the best most clubs could aspire to. Winning the league was the preserve of the big clubs or the odd flash in the pan. We were a big club and yet our tradition was as a cup winner. Unfortunately now even the domestic cups are usually won by the priviliged few with this year being an exception. Personally I want to compete with the big boys for all the available trophies and to do that you need the sort of squad they have. That means challenging for top 4 regularly as the priority with occasional tilts at the cups. That doesn't mean selling out to gangsters and feudal rulers by the way. This era will come to be known in the future as the corrupt years and be discounted when Glory is attributed. Maybe if I say it often enough it will come true.
Love totty
13/05/2013 16:39:00
Frank, Scarborough and York had a pretty lively rivalry in their day, was sad when they went under. Had a work placement over there a few years back and met an old boy who used to play for Hull, reckoned he'd played against Billy Nick in his youth, said he was built like an Ox and he couldn't get the ball off him.
13/05/2013 21:10:00
Yorkspur - point taken, understood. I you can appreciate it's a very sensitive issue for us (Wimbledon). If you are referring to MK, then in our eyes they do not exist at all. In fact all the trophies (inc FA Cup) won by the original Wimbledon are held in AFC Wimbledon's cabinet and Vinnie Jones has even donated his 1988 FA Cup medal to AFC Wimbledon. I'm glad York stayed up, even though they were the only team we beat twice :)
13/05/2013 21:49:00
Afc, apologies, hadn't realised that, thought afc were like an FC utd sort of setup. Glad to hear the trophy is where it should be. Good luck next seasob
13/05/2013 22:38:00
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