the real fa cup

No upsets as Propers get under way

AFC Telford 2 Southend United 2
Attendance 3,631

We broke our vow instantly. Simon couldn’t make this for a worthy reason I won’t go in to. I was going to go with my Southend supporting cousin but he didn’t fancy it. Fortunately it was a draw so we could go to the replay. We did, however, complete the vow of going to an extra game.

Southend United 2 AFC Telford 0
Attendance 4,415
Price £10

This game wasn’t bad, though the icy chill coming down from Scandinavia was. Telford proved they were only in second gear against Hendon by bossing Southend for much of the first hour. Like in previous rounds though, the better team failed to capitalise on their chances. In the 5 minutes leading up to Southend’s first goal, Telford had 3 or 4 very good chances that they hacked wide or headed over when they should have done better. Southend broke away from the final of these efforts and got a corner, from which former filthy Blade Simon Francis converted. They swiftly added a second with a great goal. The ball was played down the left hand side to James Walker who turned inside, looked up and curled the ball round the keeper. This was not Southend’s first team though, they weren’t deliberately fielding a weakened side they just had lots of injuries and some important loanees were ineligible. As a result of this dearth of players, a 17 year old former Ipswich Town youth player, Stuart O’Keefe, made his debut in the last minute. What appeared to be his granddad and some other friends and relatives were sitting in front of us and were understandably well chuffed when he came on. Had some great fish and chips too. Haddock. Under a fiver.

AFC Wimbledon 1 Wycombe Wanderers 4
Attendance 4,528
Price £10

It was really hard to get a ticket for this, it was a sellout and this was just the type of game we hoped we would see. This was the romance, a decent, footballing non-league side, who had been raped by prospectors and the fans were rebuilding their club. They were poised, ready to stick one up the league side and the TV boys knew it, that’s why it was LIVE on telly on a Monday night.

Having built this game up to epic proportions in my head, it was the most tedious one so far. Surprising given the scoreline but the pragmatism of the unbeaten league side was such that they more or less sat there all game waiting for errors. AFC managed only about 5 or 6 errors but 4 were punished by clinical finishing. So, we were standing on a packed terrace among ‘real’ Wimbledon fans and feeling the buzz of a reborn side on the verge of big things. Nope. We were hunched double on a cold, drizzly night in an uncovered stand listening to one, occasional, dreary song next to the most annoying of drunken Sarf Lahndan pretend fans. Was the silence because they are a newish side and haven’t got their identity yet or was it the early opposition goal and subsequent bore tactics from Peter Taylor’s side? More likely it was the prepondernance of fans of other teams that semed to have latched on to AFC as their second team. Tonight the FA Cup lost some of its lustre, although I was cheered slightly by the Womble that walked up and down in front of the main stand pulling a wheelie bin and banging the lid shut to get the crowd going.

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