THE FA Cup has been accused of being devalued in recent weeks, of being undermined by its scheduling on the same week as Premier League fixtures – but for me this year has a genuine fairytale final to savour.
Portsmouth’s 2008 win aside, this year will see the first team that’s not Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United or Liverpool since Everton triumphed in 1994.
Despite this lack of a traditional big gun, there’s still an element of David versus Goliath in the relative means of Stoke and Man City – yet this is no pushover, both teams will genuinely have a shot of winning over the course of the match.
At the forefront of everyone’s mind will be the fact that for Manchester City fans this competition represents the chance for them to pick up their first silverware in some 35 years and announce their arrival as a true top dog in English football.
And I do realise that during that wait, the Manchester club has seen its ups and downs – including some very big downs and a trip to the third tier of English football and back again.
But for Stoke, winning this would be dreamland – this is the biggest up Stoke fans have ever seen, with a solid Premiership finish, a Europa League place next season and a shot at The FA Cup.
I was at University in Stoke-on-Trent around a decade ago, and back then then the thought of the Premier League was a bit far fetched – fans’ expectations centred solely around having a better season than Port Vale.
Since then their rise has been phenomenal and achieved entirely on merit – no cash injections or star players pushing them on – it’s been on tactics, teamwork, talent and a lot of hard graft.
It’s for these reasons I hope today’s result sees the Potteries going potty – after all, it’s almost inevitable that the bulging roster of Man City superstars’ time will arrive soon.