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Stoppage Time: Just another weekend in the FA Cup

Matt Smith's childhood ambitions most likely mirrored those of countless other young boys growing up in England.

The dream of becoming a professional soccer player is one held by just about every male in the country as soon as he is old enough to kick a ball.

Most end up being forced to take a different path at some point, and Smith looked like he would fall into that category when he was released by Cheltenham at the age of 18.

Smith decided to earn a degree in international management from the University of Manchester, and toiled in obscurity on the soccer field with such remote clubs as Redditch United, Droylsden and Solihull Moors.

His professional dream appeared to have dried up, but he was eventually discovered by Oldham Athletic, a team that resides in the third tier of the English game.

Smith's soccer journey is one taken by many players, but what sets him apart from most is the fact that he helped eliminate one of the biggest clubs in England from its most prestigious cup competition.

The 23-year-old netted a pair of goals in the first half as Oldham pulled off a stunning 3-2 upset win over Liverpool on Sunday, eliminating the Reds from the FA Cup.

Oldham's win over Liverpool was one of many surprising results over the weekend as lower-league clubs such as MK Dons and Luton knocked out Premiership sides QPR and Norwich City, respectively, while lightly regarded Brentford managed to force a replay against the defending European champion, Chelsea.

The story of David toppling Goliath never gets old. It is a narrative that draws us to sports because it happens more often in this environment than in any other.

But what makes a competition like the FA Cup so unique is the fact David gets the chance to take down Goliath on a regular basis.

In most other sports, games take place between professionals who are playing on relatively equal terms.

For example, it might be a surprise to see the New York Yankees lose a series to a team like the Kansas City Royals, but it happens.

What would truly be shocking, however, is if the Yankees got on a bus and drove down to Trenton, N.J., to take on their Double-A affiliate, and lost.

That is what you get with the FA Cup.

There are players who took the field for Liverpool on Sunday who make more money in one week than most Oldham players will make the entire year.

Yet during the FA Cup, the elite in the English game come down from the mountain to mingle with the common man on level terms.

Watching a team like Chelsea, which plays on the most well-groomed fields in the world, try to navigate the rough terrain of Griffin Park against Brentford was amusing.

The pitch was littered with potholes and made the English giants look almost as uncomfortable as the royal family trying to enjoy lunch at a local diner.

In the end, Chelsea escaped the tiny ground with a 2-2 draw and will most likely win the replay in the more familiar territory of Stamford Bridge.

But there is something compelling about watching the little guy take his best crack at the heavyweight that never gets old.

Upsets like the one pulled off by Oldham, Luton and others over the weekend are not unheard of each FA Cup. In fact, there seems to be at least one eye- opening result each weekend during the early rounds of the competition.

Like the NCAA Tournament in college basketball, we know upsets will happen, but the fun is seeing which obscure school from a place we never heard of is the one who brings a well-known basketball power to its knees.

In three weeks' time, maybe a club like Leeds United is able to win at Manchester City, or perhaps Oldham's run continues with another home win against top-flight opposition in Everton, but most likely not.

For most of these underdogs, the clock eventually strikes midnight and they go back to toiling in the lower reaches of the English game soon enough.

Matt Smith may never get the chance to sign a big contract with a Premiership team and live out his childhood dream.

Thanks to the FA Cup, however, he and the rest of his Oldham teammates were able to make a memory that will last a lifetime.