Having officiated a few FA Cup games in my active career, this weekend thanks to the terrific coverage of the BBC, highlighted why it is the best cup competition in the world.
Rather than sitting on the sofa at home playing on their mobiles, families take their children to support their local team and on many occasions this is their first experience of watching a cup tie.
The lower league clubs dream of glory and some on the day achieve remarkable success.
For some of the supporters it’s a very early alarm call to start what is often a rather long day.
For the clubs it is a welcome break from league football, and the high attendances mean for some, a financial lifeline and a reduction of their debts.
AFC Wimbledon of course managed an early trip to Wembley, the current home of Tottenham Hotspur, who if they progress to the sem-final/final will have home team advantage.
It was noticeable how the Select Group 1 Professional Referees, after a busy Christmas schedule in the main, appeared to enjoy their freedom and visits to grounds that were not on their usual route planner.
Their was however two incidents that for me tarnish the spirit of the FA Challenge Cup.
The first was at Anfield where Roberto Firmino is alleged to have made a racial comment to Everton’s Mason Holgate. The second surrounded the dismissal of Leeds United player Samuel Sáiz for an alleged spitting offence aimed at Newport County’s Robbie Willmott.
Thankfully these two types of incidents are very rare and hopefully if guilty, The FA will hand out a suitable punishment.
To the BBC commentators and pundits many thanks for your terrific commentary.
On a positive note it was great to see the connection between fans and player when Joe Hart, the goalkeeper with the sun beaming into his eyes, turned and accepted a fans gesture of lending him his cap.
At the halftime whistle Joe handed it back to the fan who now is the proud owner of a rather special piece of FA Cup memorabilia.