On Monday night at 7pm, BBC2 set aside half an hour for the FA Cup third round draw; five minutes for the actual draw, with the other 25 devoted to the unutterable slaver they use to pad the whole thing out.
Undaunted, I still sat down to watch it because, bless my 10 toes, I still fantasise about seeing Sunderland win a trophy. My preferred draw was therefore a home tie against some no-hopers that we’ve never heard of.
Arsenal away was not my second choice.
However, Sunderland have a historically respectable record against the Gunners. There have been seven previous ties between the clubs, with SAFC leading 4-3. The first was a 6-0 win for Sunderland in 1893. I wasn’t at the game (I had a cold) but it sounds impressive.
Arsenal won the next tie in 1906 by 5-0. I missed that one too, but apparently all the goals were offside, or didn’t cross the line, or both. So it was pure luck; a moral victory to Sunderland and only biased people said otherwise.
Other defeats came in 1991 and 1997, but there were victories in 1961, 1973 (of course) and 2012. This leads me to the obvious conclusion that Sunderland are as good as in the fourth round in 2016. Furthermore, their name is on the cup.
There remains an outside possibility that I am wrong about this. In such an event there will be the inevitably expressed consolation of “concentrating on the league.” Some even think that a third round exit is a good thing. Hmm.
The financial importance of remaining in the Premier League is never understated.
But they won’t be sharing any of the cash with us and football is about glory, not balance sheets. Let’s dispense with the boring annual “cup run or stay up” debate and have a stab at both. Show some ambition.
The notion that losing a game, any game, is a source of positivity has never convinced me. Although I will concede that elimination to Arsenal would be a considerably smaller drain on confidence than elimination to Bradford City.