Jack the Lad: The cup retains that old magic

16th February 2019

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad reflects on Newport County's FA Cup heroics, and Swansea's own dreams in the famous old competition.

Who says the FA Cup has lost its magic?

There was more magic in Newport County’s fourth-round replay against Middlesbrough than the entire series of Harry Potter books and films.

I haven’t enjoyed a football match, which didn’t involve the Swans, so much in years.

It had absolutely everything a classic cup tie could hope to be . . . and more!

Rickety old stands packed to the rafters with roaring fans – check.

Torrential rain lashing a heavily-used pitch – check.

Former Tesco shelf-stacker turned goal hero – check.

Perfect training ground move paying of with top corner screamer – check.

Goalkeeper running straight off the pitch at full-time for hospital dash to be with new-born twins – check.

Co-commentator John Hartson referencing a similar Vetch Field occasion when the fourth tier Swans beat Premier League West Ham – check.

Home-made tinfoil FA Cup replicas being waved around by kids - check

The match was a real throwback to the halcyon days of the FA Cup.

With the sheeting rain obscuring the Rodney Parade floodlights, it almost looked like footage from a 1970s cup replay.

I kept expecting the unforgettable voices of iconic Welsh broadcasters Hugh Johns or Idwal Robling to take over the commentary at any second.

And now we can look forward to the prospect of Manchester City’s multi-millionaire maestros stepping off their luxury coach in the Rodney Parade car park.

I hope the TV director for the game makes sure he gets a shot of Pep Guardiola’s face as he walks through the Rodney Parade entrance.

I don’t know exactly what the ageing rugby ground’s changing rooms are like, but Pep is unlikely to have experienced anything remotely similar at Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Man City or pretty much anywhere else he has played or managed.

And the magic of the cup isn’t, of course, confined to Newport.

It’s also cast its spell closer to home, where the Swans will be hosting Brentford at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.

A place in the fifth round used to be something of a rarity for the Swans, but like London buses, two have come along in quick succession, this campaign following hot on the heels of last season’s cup exploits.

The way the draw has fallen, there is a real chance that a team from outside the top flight could go all the way to Wembley this year.

Whatever happens this weekend there will be at least two non-Premier League sides in the sixth round with the Swans facing Brentford, and Millwall playing Wimbledon.

If results go a certain way, there could be as many as seven EFL teams through to the last eight, with only one of Manchester United or Chelsea guaranteed to keep the Premier League flag flying.

Granted it would take a miraculous - let alone magical - set of results for this scenario to come to fruition, but considering the way this year’s competition has panned out, you can’t dismiss further giant-killings, even if there might not be a repeat of Newport’s heroics at Rodney Parade.

With all this magic in the air, who’s to say a club led by a manager called Potter can’t go all the way to Wembley!

C’mon you Swans!