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Another Reason Why I Love English Football & Why You Should Too

That crest tho.

Among the many reasons to love the beautiful game (and there are reasons to hate it, mind you) are spectacles like today's FA Cup match between Arsenal FC and Sutton United FC.

For those who don't know, the FA Cup is a knockout tournament that takes place during regular season play and includes the first 10 -- yes ten -- levels of English professional football. Arsenal are in the Premier League, the equivalent of the NFL or the Major Leagues. Sutton United are not. Sutton are in the fifth division, also called the National League, meaning they'd have to get promoted four times in a row in order to be in the same league as Arsenal. The fact that they made it into the fifth round of the FA Cup, to even be on the same field as the likes of Arsenal, is absolutely historic for the club and is one of those rare moments that makes the FA Cup what it is.

There's no real equivalent of this in American professional sports, but let's just say it's kind of like the New York Yankees playing against the Single-A Vermont Lake Monsters (who actually exist) in Burlington, Vermont during the regular season, in a game that actually means something.

Arsenal are used to playing against 60,000 people in Emirates Stadium, while Sutton United's field -- the adorably English "Gander Green Lane" stadium -- holds 5,000. Arsenal players make salaries on the order of the hundreds of thousands of pounds per week, while Sutton United have a part-time school teacher on their roster. Thus, you can imagine the excitement for Sutton United and their supporters, and the sort of queasy annoyance for Arsenal: Sutton have nothing to lose, while the only acceptable result for Arsenal is a sound thrashing and even at that, it's what's expected and thus "No big deal." Arsenal almost can't win.

As it turns out, Arsenal did win 2-0. But it was a good game and the point is Sutton United could have won and for one brief shining moment the mostly immutable laws of big money soccer supremacy could have been flipped upside down and David could have beaten Goliath. Turns out, it was not to be. But that's why we watch...


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