I’ve said some pretty unflattering words about the FA Cup in my time. I said a few more when the whistle blew to confirm Eastleigh’s 2-1 win over Reading on Sunday.

But I suppose the pick of the crop came when Reading were struggling in the Premier League. After a tough defeat I was asked by a journalist whether the next game, which happened to be in the FA Cup, might provide a much needed distraction to our patchy league form.

I think I blurted out something along the lines of not giving two ***** about the FA Cup. In the days that followed, even the world’s most infamous mass murderers winced at the headlines that came my way.

The truth is that relegation can be catastrophic for a football club, it can take years to recover. Back then I was acutely aware that we were fast approaching a tipping point in the season that a one-off FA Cup match was never going to gloss over.

Maybe you actually need to see the people at the training ground that you’ve let down at the end of the season, carrying their possessions in cardboard boxes to their car to truly understand what I mean.

But that’s not to say that I haven’t played in some terrific FA Cup ties. The two matches against Manchester United in 2007 are undoubtedly amongst the highlights, and scoring in the incredible 2-3 replay at the Madejski is something that I still take a huge amount of personal satisfaction from. This was when United were about to become European champions and had the likes of Ferdinand, Rooney, Ronaldo and Scholes in their side. They were the team more than any other that I wanted to score against.

What I do remember is that before the game Ole Gunner Solskjaer came into our dressing room asking to use an exercise bike. He was coming back from a bad knee injury and needed a warm-up before his warm-up.

I was in the same boat, and so we sat on the exercise bikes peddling away having an in depth discussion about the merits of steam room treatment and swapping exercise routines that had helped us to get fit again.

The point is, I used to find FA Cup ties generally more relaxed than Premier League games. They felt more celebratory. Had we been playing a league match, Ole would never have knocked on our dressing room door, much less sat and spoken with me about the merits of good rehab.

At Eastleigh, there was at least a genuine cup tie as you might describe it to somebody that has never seen one; decent tempo, a few goals, a packed house and an inflatable banana. What more do you want?

I appreciate that the game was on TV, and ultimately that proved too tempting for those that want to continue to make their point against the current owner. But Mark Bowen is confident the club will be sold soon, and that being the case we can begin to turn half an eye towards the future.

So the tennis balls need to stop now, and these young kids that have been tasked with upholding the honour of the badge and who are just starting out in their careers need to be allowed to play their football.

Not that I didn’t break into a smile when it happened, I still enjoy a bit of light-hearted anarchy after all.



My new academy has only been live for just over a month but things are moving at a rapid pace. 

I've been booked in for a week of coaching at an academy in the USA next year - and given the status that the likes of Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Noel Hunt and Stephen Hunt are held in by Reading fans, it seems fitting that there is even a chance that I will be able to help one of the Irish players I'm working with secure his first pro contract in this country in the next month or so.

On the subject of working with players from other countries, I'm coaching a couple of young players from opposite sides of the global map. 

I was delighted when an aspiring young player from the USA said he would be here for a few weeks in December and wanted my help. And I don't know if I can go on record and state that The Dave Kitson Academy is 'global' just yet, but a talented young player from New Zealand got in touch to say that he is in the Reading area for Christmas and asked me if I could coach him.

So, watch this space, and I might be able to let you know how we have helped to develop a future first team player at Reading before too long.

On that note, I still have some free one-to-one and group taster sessions available before and after Christmas. If you want to find out more, just visit my website: www.davekitsoncademy.com