Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Tamworth and Paulton...?

Dion Dublin lobs the ball past Tamworth keeper Jose Veiga to make it 4-0. Photo: Photo: Rich Eaton.

Dion Dublin lobs the ball past Tamworth keeper Jose Veiga to make it 4-0. Photo: Photo: Rich Eaton. - Credit: Rich Eaton/Sportsbeat Images

The rose-tinted glasses will on this afternoon as the third round of the FA Cup takes centre stage. And why not?

If it wasn't, we'd lose this competition forever, because it is hard to imagine there being too many 'moments' today that will be considered romantic history in a decade or two's time. The magic of the FA Cup? It's gone the way of the rabbit and the pigeon and disappeared back into the hat forever.

The further I delve into the memory bank the better it seems – I remember taking sides at primary school in 1970 when Chelsea played Leeds. Then Posh beating Leeds in the same competition in 1986 – which earned me free drinks all night at The Lamb in Ely.

As the years advanced and covering Norwich City was my beat, the memories leave me less starry-eyed because they coincide with the decline of the competition, instigated by Premier League machine which insisted in 100pc loyalty to its cause.

City's cup record isn't great, but the trips to non-league Tamworth in 2007 and Paulton Rovers two years later, did prove that the magic was still there. There was no need for a giant-killing; you make your own memories. Tamworth's pitch was an utter bog, observed by the media from a gantry, access to which came via a near-vertical wooden ladder which, by the time we arrived, was caked in mud. Every successful ascent was met with disappointment! City won 4-1, but were never given a moment's peace. The crowd loved every sodden minute and Tamworth were happy to have played their part.

Paulton was easier – a 7-0 win notable for Grant Holt smiling his way through the friendly banter from the locals. The hospitality was second to none. Because the big day in the world's oldest knockout competition mattered.

Today, teams roll in, roll over the opposition, and roll out. And not a soul in sight.

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