The dulcet tones of Sam Matterface again reminded us why we turn the volume down whenever watching him cover a game on ITV over the weekend, as the FA Cup descended into chaos.
Between the ‘magic of the cup’ gimmick, the draws and all the other baggage that comes with it, the FA Cup regularly feels like a parody of its former self at this point.
But this weekend the magic was truly alive and well in the form of complete and utter chaos across the country, up and down the pyramid, as round four ran wild on us.
No matter how much money infiltrates and subsequently dampens the beautiful game, the fans will always be the driving force behind it. It was proven this weekend as they spilt over (literally) around the grounds.
Maidstone United’s giant-killing of Ipswich set the tone for a glorious fourth round, matched by a number of moments so beautifully chaotic that it brought a tear to your eye.
Football needs (some) disorder and we won’t hear anything else on the matter. Here are those moments from a properly bizarre weekend.
Sheffield Wednesday fan sneaks into Coventry City Ground
This. This is why we love football.
It’s amazing where ‘just going for a few beers’ can take you.
Sheffield Wednesday Fan Has Got Into The Coventry City Ground (Last Night) 🤣…
— Away.Ends (@away_ends) January 28, 2024
Port Vale fan chases the referee
A break from the FA Cup action to visit League One, this Port Vale fan accurately summed up the consensus on the quality of refereeing in the United Kingdom.
Will it improve or fix the problem by invading a professional football pitch and chasing them down the tunnel? Absolutely not. Was it a stupid and reckless thing to do? Undoubtedly.
It’s hard not to chuckle at it, though, given we’ve all been left feeling similarly hot-headed after a honking decision goes against us.
If this doesn’t kick the FA up the backside to address their refereeing issue to improve and thus better protect officials, we don’t know what will.
A Port Vale fan chasing the referee off the pitch due to a penalty decision yesterday. Madness. pic.twitter.com/9PRRxYwdA1
— Dirty Footballer 👊 (@DirtyFootbaIIer) January 28, 2024
Maidstone fan takes a tumble
Cup upsets. They’re truly like no other.
This right here is the true definition of the magic of the cup. Sod your pretty broadcast packages and your cliches. Falling from the away tier into the home support is a memory that’ll last a lifetime.
(We continue to wince at the footage and sincerely hope the fan who took a tumble into the lower tier is safe and well.)
Maidstone fan sliding down the stand yesterday 😭🤣 pic.twitter.com/3ClMxp90Hk
— Football Twats (@FootbaIITwats) January 28, 2024
West Brom vs Wolves
Tensions boiled over in the West Stand and Birmingham Road End as Wolves scored their second goal after 78 minutes in the Black Country derby on Sunday midday, with the game subsequently being stopped for 38 minutes while crowd trouble was addressed, with Wolves fans infiltrating the home end.
An ugly incident which gave obvious flashbacks to hooliganism issues of the 1970s and 80s, it was a stark reminder of the bad that can happen in football without thorough checks and people being sensible.
Two arrests were made and a man is in hospital with head injuries per the BBC, with the FA having now launched an investigation into the disorder.
In the pundit’s box as we cut away from the scenes – for an alarming amount of time as ITV essentially tried to ignore what was going on – Matterface insisted that these were scenes we didn’t want to see. And this is where the problem lies.
Why else would a neutral choose to tune in to West Brom vs Wolves on a Sunday midday? ITV picked that game for television coverage knowing full well that the derby would come with plenty of needle and the potential for tensions to boil over, thus creating a level of intrigue and entertainment value.
As fans, we can appreciate a fierce and – historically – bitter rivalry between clubs without wishing ill on anyone in attendance, so that’s what we’re doing.
One West Brom fan left the chaos looking like he’d been on WWE television in the early 2000s, bleeding profusely like a prime Ric Flair.
A crimson mask that Jim Ross would be proud of.
West Brom fan, with his face completely covered in blood being led away by police inside the Hawthorns.
The Wolves fans sing “let him die…”
Scenes English football hasn’t seen for many, many years. 😨 pic.twitter.com/xluR6eIuuL
— Football Away Days (@FBAwayDays) January 28, 2024
Elsewhere, a rather sad and desperate attempt from a West Brom fan to get involved in the action saw us introduced to perhaps the most skilled man in the country, somehow resisting police and stewards without dropping the cigarette in his mouth.
Never dropped his cig… athlete https://t.co/wx8UB1yrIK
— JR (@Rhodesinio) January 28, 2024
At some point, when looking beyond the very obvious idiocy of it all, you’ve got to commend the composure and the commitment to that one singular cigarette.
We’d like to see the average person try and keep that in their mouth under such pressure. No chance.
That – amid all the disorder – perfectly sums up what we love about cup football.