EYES down, and welcome to FA Cup cliché bingo.
If you have got your dibbers at the ready, we’ll begin.
First out of the pot is “potential banana skin” – a reference to the tricky nature of a tie between a higher league club and a lower league one. It ignores the fact, of course, that no-one has actually slipped on a banana skin outside of a Buster Keaton film for the last 150 years.
The next one is a visual cliché – a set of cameramen or fans watching from a hastily-erected scaffolding or block of flats next to a lower league ground, which is inevitably accompanied by some bloke on Match of the Day saying “I hope he paid for a ticket.”
Next up is “form book goes out of the window”. Now I’ve been working in football for quite some time and I have never seen a form book, or been able to rent one from my local library.
If anyone does actually have a form book, I’d be interested to see it.
“FA Cup romance” is another curious one. If I suggested to my wife that we paid on the door for a home tie against Newport County to watch a reserve team then she would possibly file for divorce but then there is no accounting for taste.
The “David versus Goliath” line will be trotted out at least once.
In the era of Premier League this can apply to any team outside the top flight when you look at the ridiculous inequality in wages and revenues.
It remains the only biblical reference the FA Cup has to offer.
One lower league manager (or in the rare case, a chairman) will go out and tell the cameras “I’ve told them to go out there and enjoy it”, and managers will also inevitably use the phrase “express themselves” which conjures up images of dance classes and mime – an art rarely seen in lower league football.
Plus which, it’s hard to enjoy yourself when Arsenal’s second string are hammering you 7-0 and you know you’ll be on the ultra-highlights on ITV.
Teams are vying to be “in the hat for the next round” despite the fact that they will be drawn from an indiscriminate black sack by two former footballers on the Sunday afternoon.
And let’s not forget the “potentially money-spinning” home tie against Manchester United in the next round.
Cue dressing room celebration and invasive camera work.
Finally we have the old favourite “on the road to Wembley” which, for anyone who hasn’t been to North London, is that annoying bit of M1 that seems to have been under construction for decades.
Why anyone would want to get on it is beyond me, but there we go, there’s nowt stranger than football clichés.