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Everything about the 2016 FA Cup final was mediocre

Wayne Rooney's making a return to his boyhood love. (AFP PHOTO/LINDSEY PARNABY)
Expert
22nd May, 2016
108
2154 Reads

It was a fitting modern twist that kick-off for the 135th edition of the FA Cup final was delayed by a grammatically-challenged rapper and a reality TV contestant who couldn’t sing.

Not content with trashing the tradition of a 3pm kick-off four years ago, this year the hapless Football Association decided the last thing fans wanted to see on Cup final day was some football.

Thus TV viewers across the globe were subjected to the karaoke stylings of one Tinie Tempah, whose shambolic performance was the first in a series of pre-match disasters which culminated in kick-off for one of the world’s most watched matches being delayed.

Fortunately for our man Tempah, his irrelevant pre-game warbling was soon forgotten when a former X-Factor contestant missed her cue to sing the national anthem.

Could you blame her? With both sets of supporters doing their utmost to generate some old-fashioned atmosphere, stadium authorities responded by turning the Public Announcement system up to ear-splitting volumes.

If there’s one thing the FA appears determined to stamp out, it’s a football-like atmosphere breaking out among the cheap seats at Wembley.

That no doubt explains why seats on half-way are always empty five minutes before half-time and 15 minutes into the second half.

With any luck, soon the majority of corporate seats will be permanently empty – with the most valued customers defiantly embracing the future by watching the match on TVs inside the stadium.

Mind you, here I am bagging the catastrophe that was the 2016 FA Cup final when I didn’t even watch the game live.

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I thought I’d get the jump on Optus and start watching English football the way most of us will next season – on delay.

Since I was out in the Queensland countryside on the night – it was lovely, thanks for asking – I figured I might as well watch the replay on ESPN the following afternoon.

While I just about managed to avoid seeing the score, I sadly also avoided Martin Tyler’s unsurpassed commentary on SBS.

Taking his place were resident ESPN commentators Mark Donaldson and ex-Liverpool defender Steve Nicol, who quickly earned points in my book by slamming the farcical pre-match entertainment.

Nicol then proceeded to bemoan a truly diabolical decision from referee Mark Clattenburg, who for no discernible reason denied Crystal Palace striker Connor Wickham the advantage when Manchester United defender Chris Smalling tried to pull him down.

Wickham went on to score – against an already-halted United defence, it must be said – and for whatever inexplicable reason, Clattenburg made the exact same mistake just before half-time.

It’s a good thing the referee wasn’t photographed joking around with former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson before the game! Oh wait, he was.

On and on it went, the two teams frustrated by their apparent lack of footballing ability, until Palace substitute Jason Puncheon unexpectedly lashed home the opener with 12 minutes remaining.

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That sparked an impromptu and ill-advised celebratory dance from Palace manager Alan Pardew, who was soon back in his place when one of the few players on the pitch possessing genuine international class, Wayne Rooney, set up Juan Mata for the equaliser.

All that was left was for United to nick an undeserved extra-time winner – cue Jesse Lingard – and next season we can look forward to the Red Devils making another early exit from the Europa League all over again.

It was hard to watch Palace skipper Mile Jedinak suffer defeat in such a manner, although to be honest Marouane Fellaini got the better of the Socceroos enforcer all day.

Jedinak will get to square up to English opposition all over again when Australia takes on England at the Stadium of Light on Saturday morning AEST.

No doubt the rendition of God Save The Queen will be spot on this time, but sadly, nothing could save the 2016 FA Cup final.