There is a feeling about the FA Cup within all sets of supporters, that despite the changes made on FA Cup Final day, this is still the trophy to win and that the tradition of the FA Cup is still there in abundance.
It’s all because of the magic of the competition and as kids growing up and seeing the upsets, the surprises, the non-league teams and the feeling that surrounds the 3rd round and beyond, every teams supporters get that old nostalgic FA Cup buzz. There is nothing else quite like it. In fact, apart from winning whichever league your team is in, this far outweighs winning the League Cup or any of the smaller domestic trophies every year.
Even abroad, the FA Cup is known, admired and loved for its beguiling nature of almost who dares, wins proportions.
West Ham are no different to any other club once the 3rd round kicks in. We’ve always had an eye on the cup, but sometimes, we’ve not done ourselves justice and last year at West Brom and the previous year at Forest, we were farcical.
It was as though there was an absence of willingness to go further, that it didn’t matter and a surrender before kick-off. Previous managers must have wondered what had happened to the club that is synonymous with the trophy we’ve won three times.
Traditionally, we are decent cup team. We are the last team from outside of the top league to win it, we are the last all British team to win it and in 1975, we beat a Fulham side with our own Bobby Moore within their ranks. In 1964, we weren’t exactly favourites and of course we are forever linked to the first ever Wembley final in 1923.
This is a competition that Slaven Bilic wants to win. He knows, unlike other overseas managers, what this cup means and there is no way in this world that Bilic will field an under strength team.
Wolves are no mugs, either. They’ve won the trophy four times, the last being in 1960 and with four runners-up places as well. Although their season has been inconsistent, it is the cup and anything can happen. West Ham need to treat this as they would a league game, but should still have enough strength and flair to proceed to the 4th round and hopefully another home tie.
We’ve had our problems in the past with the 3rd round and lower league teams both home and away. Blackpool infamously in 1971, Newport County in 1979, Torquay in 1990 and I recall us struggling to beat non-league Emley in 1998, but ran out narrow 2-1 winners. Strangely enough, we have only met Wolves once before in the cup and that was a 3rd round tie at Molineux in 2004, when we won 3-1.
This season, however, our name may just be written on the cup and with the attitude and feeling around this last season at the Boleyn Ground, I think we have a squad to go all the way and win it, as we should have done in 2006.
What a sight it would be and a triumphful ending to the tenure at the Boleyn, if we are top six in the league and have a lovely shiny piece of silverware in our clutches again.
West Ham United FA Cup Winners 2015/16. It has a nice ring about it doesn’t it?