Sunday, 9 March 2008

Tykes in dream land

The words "FA Cup" and "romance" have been inextricably linked over the years. And if you think that this has been rather cliched, well it's not about to go away this year.

Barnsley FC has written its own chapter in the Cup's rich history this season by eliminating two of the Big Four. On Saturday it followed up its thrilling Anfield elimination of Liverpool with a home success over Chelsea.

And so the Cup this year will have a winner from outside the despised top four clubs for the first time since Everton's success in 1995. And with three of the four semi-finalists being from outside the Premiership, there are good chances of a winner from outside the top flight for the first time since West Ham in 1980.

The Barnsley captain remarked before the Chelsea fixture that if they achieved scalps of two of the top four they should be just about given the Cup in recognition. Their semi-final opponents will be known tonight, but I'm tipping the Tykes to be knocked out at the final hurdle. In my view, it will be too hard for them to mentally prepare for a fixture against a lesser light, even if it is lowest-ranked Cardiff City. But we'll see.

I'll be watching keenly to see the response of the mainstream media to the final stages of the competition. In recent times , the press has become so top-four and Premiership focused. Today's coverage in the Melbourne Age concentrated more on the all-Premiership clash at Old Trafford, rather than Barnsley's heroics at Oakwell.

I'd love the Tykes to go all the way. But I'll just enjoy seeing teams other than Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool.