Ian Hart: Mixed feelings about the FA Cup

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I have mixed feelings about the greatest cup competition in the world and disappointment on a number of levels.

The Amex attendance of 11,091 on Saturday begs the question, with all due respect to both the FA Cup and opponents MK Dons, was apathy the real winner?

I’m disappointed that clearly the tradition of the FA Cup has become a real turn off for supporters. One minute, nearly 30,000 are celebrating being top of the Championship, yet almost two thirds of support don’t fancy the cup game just over a week later. Perhaps things might have been different if the club had stayed with the age old ticketing tradition and included the first FA Cup home tie in the season ticket package?

While slightly disappointed with the supposed ‘second string’ line-up, it was tempered by the fact that I acknowledge, as do the overwhelming majority of supporters, that promotion is the priority.

Perhaps Chris Hughton put out his ‘back-up’ XI as a timely reminder to Albion chairman Tony Bloom that, if we are going to get to the Premier League, and more importantly stay there, some serious investment is required in the next two transfer windows?

All in all, despite the 2-0 win, to reiterate, it was pretty disappointing all round. But if I thought it couldn’t get any worse, Monday’s fourth round draw put the tin hat on the whole process with the balls in the velvet bag throwing up an away trip to either Lincoln City or Ipswich Town.

However, one silver lining could yet see ex Worthing Youth left-back Pat Webber, who was on the bench for the Tractor Boys on Saturday, lining up against the Albion in the next round. A timely reminder to the Brighton scouting network that they don’t always get it right.

Thankfully, while the FA Cup has sadly become somewhat devalued, the FA Trophy ( the successor to the Legendary Amateur Cup) is still the Blue Riband non-league knockout competition.

Worthing, in the second round proper for the first time since the 2004-05 season, entertain Sutton United at Woodside Road on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

With the Albion away to Preston and Worthing taking on arguably one of the top non-league sides in the South East, another bumper Woodside crowd is expected.

Hopefully Sutton, still in the FA Cup with a possible £1 million windfall from a potential fourth round home tie with Leeds United, might take their eye off the ball, and Worthing’s cup run could yet throw up another exciting chapter.

And, finally, my old mate Nick Malone hasn’t been in the best of health recently.

It will be great to see as many old faces on Sunday lunchtime as possible for a charity football match for him at Woodside Road, kicking off at 1pm, with all proceeds going to Chestnut Tree House.

Thankfully, weight issues and a long-term lack of ability means that I will be safely in the stand, although Harty Junior will be representing me by proxy, fresh from a Sunday morning game at Durrington Rec.

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