Pictures - FA
The FA Cup trophy is ready to be lifted by the victors in Saturday’s final – but only after some remarkable restoration work.
The trophy needed 80 hours of attention from silversmiths Thomas Lyte, led by Kevin Williams, before it looked as it once did.
After a year in Chelsea’s possession, the trophy was returned twice as damaged as the company had come to expect, and the restoration cost around £3,000.
"It was pretty well damaged - so many people wanted a piece of it," Williams said.
"This year it took probably 70 to 80 hours of restoration and polishing, where you would normally allow more like 38 hours to make sure everything's all right.
"The FA, to their credit, let the [winning] club keep the Cup, so it gets a year of going round, being celebrated so it’s therefore going to get knocked and dropped and dented and it’s my job to take those out.
"This year there was a reasonable amount of damage, some big creases, and we managed to get it back to the condition that everybody knows it as The FA Cup.
"It’s a fragile old thing now. It’s had lots of knocks and bumps and so when we repair it the metal gets thinner, so we’re at a very precarious stage that when you’re working on it, you’ve got to be careful that you don’t get it to the point where it’s beyond repair."
Chelsea are not solely to blame for the condition of the trophy – at one promotional event a member of the band Reverend and the Makers put the lid of the cup on his head, as Carlos Tevez had done in the 2010 final, only for it to fall and sustain a sizeable dent.
The current FA Cup is not as old as you might think – it was first used in 1992, and is an exact replica of the previous edition, replaced after 80 years of wear and tear.