Vernal Villan - Week 16: The FA Cup Third Round Draw

This was Ash the last time we faced Sheffield United, in 2007. Really earning his last name, there. (Image by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Before I get to anything else, please go look at this picture from the OS. If it doesn't make you smile, I'd like to know why you've removed your heart. Was it to show support for Elf-Boy losing his internal organs as well?

Anywho, after writing yesterday's quick post about the Third Round FA Cup Draw, I planned on doing a bit of digging into Sheffield to offer an altogether-too-early preview. But then Comcast went and did this, leaving me without the Internet. Sadly, none of the musicology books on my shelf could help me with a report on The Blades. Oh well, my second thought was to write a bit on the FA Cup in general.

It is, at least in theory, one of my favorite ideas ever. I say "in theory" because I've yet to root for a side that will (most likely) eventually get a loss in what will then become "a stupid waste of time competition that's keeping us back from our priorities like the EPL and winning the Carling Cup." But until then, I love it.

In the same way that the NCAA Basketball tournament provides madness every year, the FA Cup can be a realm of upsets and shocking results. I realize that it's highly unlikely, but this is a tournament that, with fourteen wins, a team of amateurs from a local pub can win. Sure, Tooting & Mitcham FC have about as good of a chance of winning it all as Scum fans have of forming coherent sentences. But that's not the point! In the history of the NCAA Basketball tournament a 16-seed has never beaten a 1-seed. That means in 104 chances, we've never witnessed the ultimate underdog story. But every single year, there are one or two 1/16 games that give us a tantalizing glimpse of it happening. And every year, I watch in the hopes of seeing it finally happen.

The FA Cup provides the same thing. We're actually, despite what the official name is, in the ninth round of the tournament, and we've still got absurd underdogs we can cheer on (until they face Villa, of course). For instance, Manchester United whoops, F.C. United of Manchester. A team that is in the eighth rung of English football. Or Crawley Town, of the fifth rung Conference National, also known as the Red Devils. Both of these teams, admittedly, face a replay to even get into the "Third Round Proper" but it can happen! If Crawley can make it, they will be hosting a Championship side in a stadium that seats fewer than 1,200. My mind is boggled by all of this, and I absolutely adore it.

If you're not reading The Real FA Cup, you're really missing out. They embody the spirit of "this is awesome" better than any other blog I've come across, at least with regards to the FA Cup. I know a lot of people don't care about these "early" round matches, but take a chance to follow it a bit this January. Heck, you can cheer on the wee little F.C. United next Wednesday (the 7th) and Crawley on Tuesday (the 6th) as they have their replays to try and make it into the next round. I know what soccer I'll be paying attention to during the week next week.

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