The first weekend of January 2020 brings the Third Round of the 138th edition of the FA Cup.
There are 32 ties, with the lowest-ranked team left in the competition National League relegation battlers AFC Fylde facing Premier League outfit Sheffield United, currently riding high in the top tier.
There’s yet another meeting between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United, whereas January 5 brings us the tantalising Merseyside Derby.
On the Saturday, the 20 games on this day have been allocated across three different time slots, from lunch-time through to the evening.
Significantly, however, each kick-off will be postponed by a single minute. 12:30 will, therefore, become 12:31, 15:30 to 15:31, and the last wave 17:30 up to 17:31.
This will also apply to the eleven matches on Sunday, which concludes with Gillingham versus West Ham United (18:15 becoming 18:16), and Monday night’s encore of Arsenal against Leeds United (19:55 delaying to 19:56).
The significance of this motion is to draw attention to the ‘Take A Minute’ movement, which encourages football fans to examine their own personal mental health.
As stated by The FA: "It is hoped that the initiative will raise awareness of the importance of looking after our mental health, with 60 seconds representing just the first step in the journey to improved wellbeing.
“During the minute delay, fans will be encouraged to consider the positive impact 60 seconds can have on their own wellbeing or in supporting a friend or family member.”
‘Take A Minute’ is part of the Heads Together charity and Football Association’s ‘Heads Up’ campaign, spearheaded by the Duke of Cambridge, across the FA Cup season of 2019/20. During the minute, a short film narrated by Prince William will be played to those attending the matches and watching the broadcast around the country.
It has partnered with Public Health England’s ‘Every Mind Matters’ for the latest return of the FA Cup, the round in which England’s top tier teams enter the fray.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “Whilst delaying kick-off times by 60 seconds is a simple idea, it provides a powerful platform for us and our Heads Up charity partners to deliver a really important message on mental health.
“We know that men, in particular, can be reluctant to talk about the subject, so it is important that we use football as a vehicle to stress the importance of mental fitness.”
Godric Smith, chair of the Heads Up campaign, added: “It is fitting that the first big Heads Up campaign moment should be linked to the Emirates FA Cup third round - a signature moment in any football season.
“The Emirates FA Cup is a competition for everyone - for clubs big and small - and we want to use its power to help show that we all have mental health and that we can all take a minute to focus on how we can start to improve it.”
You can find more about the Heads Up campaign here and remember, before you dive headfirst into FA Cup fun and produce all that blood, passion, sweat, tears, take the time to reflect on your own well-being.