From coverage inside lower-league dressing rooms to Soccer AM-style live draws, (genuine gasping included) the likes of Dan Walker, Mark Chapman and Gary Lineker created a special aura around the competition this year.
|The new Wembley is slowly building its own history.|
The FA Cup has long been an ethereal thing. It is difficult to put one's finger on exactly what makes it so... what's the word for 'hot pies on a cold January afternoon while Big Team plays Little Team and Little Team earns a dull 0-0 draw and a lucrative replay at Big Team's fortress which will subsequently pay Little Team's wages for the foreseeable century'?
The best we have is 'the magic of the cup' I suppose, although in less romantic terms it's more like 'bumpy pitch and rubbish changing rooms'.
|Everton and West Ham line up during their dramatic penalty shoot out|
which was decided by penalty kicks from both goalkeepers.
Regardless, while ITV's coverage is routinely professional if a little within the lines, much suited to the billionaires' tea party that is the Champions League, the BBC has been a perfect fit for the Magic Cup.
The company has championed stories from the top to the bottom, from a newsagent-working young lad scoring the winning goal, to the chairmen who really care about their clubs. Linked with the growing force and importance of the BBC's alternative coverage of live games (Final Score, live text, Five Live and more) the comprehensive, multi-platform approach has created a buzz about this year's competition. It has a far less corporate feel than it did last year. (Is it still sponsored by Budweiser? I honestly haven't a clue! And I love it!)
And so to today's events.
Cup final day is more difficult to hype up than it sounds. All the teams are gone bar two, and so the broadcaster must work hard to garner the interests of the hundreds of millions of fans who could be left disenchanted by the whole occasion.
|The BBC has long had the ability to bring sport to life for the masses|
From 0830 this morning to 1950 this evening, the BBC gave the FA Cup final its day, and what a day. It was basically football Christmas. From 'FA Cup Finals: Classic Finals' to 'FA Cup's 50 Greatest Moments', 'Football Focus' to a 'Pointless Celebs: FA Cup Special', the BBC got it right, while watching 'Gary Lineker on the Road to FA Cup glory' offered detailed insight into particular moments of this season's tournament.
In all honesty, by the time Aston Villa v Arsenal kicked off I could have reeled off from memory far too many results from the competition so far, but it was totally worth it. I was ready to witness some more FA Cup history live on the best TV station around, and due to the effort put in by the BBC to give the cup its day, I felt like everyone else was watching with me.