"It's been a long time. I've been watching you. But at last, here we are". To slightly misquote Christoph Waltz from the mediocre new Bond flick Spec...
I'll get it out the way straight away. Whitley Bay are still in the cup, beating Congleton Town 2-1 last weekend at Hillheads. A money-spinning tie ag...
Yes, it was the first qualifying round of the FA Cup. After the two preliminary qualifying rounds were completed, it was time for some proper qualifying. What else could I have been talking about?
The tournament this year began with the Extra Preliminary Round - there are so many teams that want to enter, they couldn't even fit them into a pre-qualifying round. In the pre-pre-qualifiers, a lot of interesting stories were thrown up.
Having seen a lot of coverage in the press about the Football Association's decision to agree a sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines, I thought I'd chip in with my thoughts.
Arsenal are like that talented kid at school - the one who who has so much to offer, but is a little scared of the spotlight. He prefers to just fade into the background and while he might be a little proud of what he's done, he doesn't like the attention on him. Nor the pressure.
It looks absolutely certain that Falcao will not be making his loan spell permanent in the summer, but if he does leave, there will be a sense of embitterment that could have been easily avoided.
In the past few years, the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the FA Cup is no longer a David vs Goliath match where the underdog emerges triumphant. It is instead the fact that many of the top teams field an almost different starting XI, resting their key players for the league.
In a country where footballers frequently complain about playing too many matches, the League Cup could be the makeweight that grants us a highly-coveted winter break. Stick a couple of Premier League matches on evenings usually reserved for cup fixtures and let everyone have a few weeks off in the middle of January, like they do in Germany.
The slow death of the Cupset is a factor in the underwhelming feeling then, but the root of the feeling goes a long way deeper than that... If we're going to get behind the FA Cup as if it's still a huge competition, we've got to at least be able to see it. If the FA don't care about their competition, why should we?
We do not owe Ched Evans anything more than is due to him under the law and being a footballer is not a fundamental human right. Being celebrated and re-elevated to the life of luxury that you decided to jack off when you raped someone is not a fundamental human right...
Arsenal fans need to start considering what sort of football club they want to be. Wenger will forever be enshrined in their proud history, but is he the man to take them forward? His careful stewardship has seen The Gunners enjoy many incredible times. However, just one solitary FA Cup win since 2005 tells its own story.
Reina quite clearly could have had a part to play at Anfield in the upcoming campaign had Rodgers opted against selling him. Every great team needs quality personnel in all positions and the goalkeeper is no different. Mignolet did not miss a minute for Liverpool in the Premier League last season, but what's to say he will not pick up an injury on the first day after the transfer window closes?
When Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge last summer, there were musings that things might be different this time around. A few months into his second stint he hinted at wanting to build a dynasty as part of a long term project. But it seems that plan soon fell by the wayside as he reverted to putting his faith in established stars rather than promising youth.
There are plenty of utterly brilliant women's footballers out there. It's now about raising the overall standard and ensuring that the best female footballers in the country don't have to balance their commitment to their sport with full or part time work elsewhere. They all need the time and the financial security to be able to focus on their game. The men at the top of football get this, so why don't the women?
It's true that hasty decisions and unreasonable sackings are ruining football, but surely Wenger's time was up a long time ago and winning the FA Cup final against Hull proves nothing about Wenger's suitability as Arsenal manager.