Johnny Cantor: Albion fans will hope United cup tie can bring memories to cherish forever

Action from Brightons Premier League match at Manchester United in November. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
Action from Brightons Premier League match at Manchester United in November. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

I think most football fans will have a special FA Cup memory. For those who follow sides further up the pyramid it may be a winning goal or lifting the cup.

For those who travel with lower and non-league teams, it may be a memorable trip or upset. Finals have produced drama with the Crazy Gang beating the Culture Club, the quickfire goal for Di Matteo or those with longer memories maybe Alan Sunderland grabbing the winner for Arsenal against Manchester United.

Neil Bell

Neil Bell

Most supporters will cherish their own side’s defining FA Cup moment of course but the drama isn’t restricted to the final. This season we have seen plenty of surprises, including Wigan’s win against runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City.

I am personally saddened that the semi-finals are held at Wembley but I guess it is an incentive for more players and a chance for more fans to experience.

This week on Albion Unlimited on BBC Sussex just prior to the Seville game, I asked the former Manchester United midfielder Ray Wilkins if he thought Brighton and Hove Albion had any chance at Old Trafford. No was the first, short answer.

Wilkins also admitted his goal against the Seagulls in the 1983 FA Cup final was one of his most memorable. Seagulls’ fans may be heartened by Seville’s win but only Manchester City have won at Old Trafford this season in the Premier League and Jose Mourinho’s side are yet to concede a goal in the FA Cup this season.

It will be tough. The odds are against a win. The use of extra-time and penalties at this stage (along with the dreaded VAR!) could well impact on the style of the game and potentially the result as well but most will back United after their Champions League exit.

However, most will have backed Liverpool against Wimbledon in 1988. I don’t know what are your defining moments of the FA Cup but around 5,000 Brighton and Hove Albion fans head to the north west this weekend hoping their team can record one they will cherish forever.

In this week of all weeks, maybe we should all take note from Stephen Hawking, “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet...And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at”.

This week as many remember Hawking, I will also remember my BBC colleague Neil Bell, who sadly passed away this week.

Belly could be seen often at the Albion and other sporting stories across the area. He was a great storyteller, a kind man and always had a smile on his face no matter what the challenges he faced.

I’m sure Neil would have made the trip to Manchester this weekend and told the story of this FA Cup weekend in his own special way.

This weekend I will be looking up at the stars and thinking of you mate. Thanks for the memories.

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