Saturday, 1 November 2008

A Sideways Glance At The FA Cup

A wonderful week in Devon; no computer, a rudimentary television (how did we ever survive with only four channels?) a small radio and plenty of time to read, relax and totally unwind. I'm now back home from a Luddite's paradise and my batteries are charged to the brim.

Driving down to the South West last Saturday I knew that it was FA Cup day and I felt a little disappointed that I wasn't driving to a game. After my exploits of last season I understandably feel a great deal of attachment to the competition and I get somewhat rueful reading through the Cup fixtures. I am thoroughly enjoying this season's FA Vase, and there is much more to look forward to. But I have managed a couple of FA Cup diversions this season as well, one at Chertsey Town (2-2 v Deal Town) and the other at Hampton & Richmond Borough (2-0 v Whyteleafe). As I was heading off to a week of peace and quiet, clubs up and down the country were preparing for Fourth Round Qualifying matches and were only one tie away from the First Round Proper. Part of me wanted to be part of it all, again. In the meantime, a brief sideways glance will suffice.

On the Sunday morning I managed to catch up with the FA Cup results in the newspaper (how primeval) but by late afternoon I was braving the October elements and skimming stones of the crests of white horses with my son; thoughts of FA Cup games had drifted off on the cold sea breeze and I was well and truly 'on holiday'. But then I received a text message - my only concession last week to modern life - and it was from POSH Mate with a rather strange question: "Where is Hornchurch?" He being a person of knowledgeable mind my first reaction was that he obviously knows where Hornchurch is (he could surely find out very quickly if not) and therefore his question was hinting at something else. But what? My wife put me out of my misery - the cogs in my brain had by now dropped to their lowest gear possible - and suggested that maybe Peterborough United (his team) were going to be playing in Hornchurch. My thoughts then turned back to the FA Cup, but I was still all at sea. Literally and metaphorically. Wasn't this mid-Sunday afternoon, a day before the draw for the First Round Proper? Had I lost a day already? That happens towards the end of holidays, admittedly, but surely not that early in the week?

I had to conclude that the First Round Proper draw had taken place; in the dark recesses I had a vague memory that ITV and Setanta were now involved and had evidently introduced a degree of tinkering to announce their arrival on the scene. This turned out to be the case and Peterborough United indeed face a trip to AFC Hornchurch. Which is in Essex, by the way.

There were some great results and stories in the Fourth Qualifying Round; Ridgeons Football League (step 5) side Leiston shocked Lewes (of the Blue Square Premier League, step 1) with an impressive 3-1 replay win at The Dripping Pan after being held 1-1 at home. They will be joined in the First Round Proper by another Suffolk club, Bury Town who beat Basingstoke Town. Brackley Town won 1-0 at Hampton & Richmond Borough, Eastwood Town overcame Wrexham after a replay and Rushden & Diamonds fell by the wayside at Evesham United.

The First Round Proper will be played this coming weekend. Setanta have been plugging the fact that they now have TV coverage of the FA Cup by, most annoyingly, declaring that they will be screening games from "every round of the FA Cup". In a glaring breach of the Trades Descriptions Act, Setanta have conveniently ignored the first six rounds. As we all know some of the best FA Cup football takes place between August and October and no, Setanta, the FA Cup does not start in November; the First Round Proper is the seventh round of the competition.

Debutants in the First Round Proper next weekend are Evesham United (drawn away at Torquay United), Brackley Town (away to Eastwood Town) and Curzon Ashton (home to Exeter City). The TV coverage starts on Friday evening with Leeds United v Northampton Town (don't get me started on why Setanta have chosen that game as their opener and duly ignored ties involving non League teams) and continues with ITV coverage on Sunday with Havant & Waterlooville v Brentford. Setanta then on Monday have arguably one of the highlights of the Round with AFC Wimbledon v Wycombe Wanderers.

Oh, and the draw for the Second Round Proper will be shown live on ITV at 1:45pm on Sunday 9th November before the Havant & Waterlooville tie. Opportunity for another sideways glance at the FA Cup for me before my next FA Vase outing. This time I'll be prepared.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"He being a person of knowledgeable mind.."
That's not what you usually say!

up the Posh