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Full-time Fletch on The FA Cup

By Darren Fletcher, BT Sport commentator , 03-Jan-2017
Last updated on 03-Jan-2017 at 10:16 GMT2017-01-03T10:16:45Z

Magic: Manchester United celebrate winning the 2016 tournament in typical style
Magic: Manchester United celebrate winning the 2016 tournament in typical style

The whole FA Cup experience may have changed over the years, but that doesn't change the fact that it's still a fantastic competition.

Being from Nottingham, my overriding FA Cup memory is the 1991 FA Cup final when Tottenham Hotspur beat Nottingham Forest. Brian Clough had waited his whole professional life to reach an FA Cup final and he finally got there with his Nottingham Forest side as big favourites to win. Forest went 1-0 up, Paul Gascoigne picked up an injury and it all looked written in the stars for Clough. However, Gascoigne’s injury totally changed the game because his replacement, Nayim, and Paul Stewart turned the match around before Tottenham won in extra time. Clough then continued his managerial career at Nottingham and never managed to win the FA Cup.

Must-show FA Cup fixtures on BT Sport

Manchester United v Reading (7 January, 12.30pm)

Preston North End v Arsenal (7 January, 5.30pm)

Cambridge United v Leeds United (9 January, 7.45pm)

It was the first FA Cup final I had actually been to in person. I was the on-pitch reporter for a Nottingham radio station. I was sitting against an advertising hoarding behind the posts where the winning goal was scored. It was a strange yet memorable experience to have watched FA Cup finals for years and then to almost be on the pitch at the first one you attend.

You don’t quite get the ‘Wembley roar’ that you used to get in the new stadium. It is great because it’s modern and shiny, but the old Wembley despite being ramshackle and needing to be knocked down, had an aura about it. You had that long walk from the tunnel past the goal across the pitch and you can never replicate that. Nowadays the whole cup final experience has changed but it is still a fantastic competition.

FA Cup 3rd round day is always about a bigger team going to a smaller club. It is great for a smaller team to play a lucrative match at the likes of Old Trafford, but you want to see a smaller team play the big boys on their own pitch.

I am covering Preston v Arsenal which I am really looking forward to because that’s a proper cup tie. Arsenal should win but Preston are a good side and will fancy their chances at Deepdale.

Every player wants to be part of the team that causes the big shock and writes a new chapter in their club’s history. The beauty of FA Cup 3rd Round day is that for all the history we have in football, more can potentially be written that day every year when it rolls around once again.

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