the real fa cup

Rob Base & Ice Cream – ‘Boro Through

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Farnborough FC .v. Hastings Utd

Rising from the ashes of the liquidated Farnborough Town, Farnborough FC took their place several levels lower than the Conference from which they were expunged.

They’ve already made one step back up but three promotions separate this ambitious club from the league. And three lanes of traffic separated us from our beer in the weird pub on the roundabout. It’s hot, damn hot, and it’s a great day to watch FA Cup football, the kind of weather TV execs hope for at the final.

Farnborough top the Zamaretto league with free-scoring former Ipswich striker-cum-winger Dean McDonald. Hastings lie 4th at the same level in the Ryman Premier with former Brighton player Scott Ramsay. Both have the goal of joining the Conference South.

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Farnborough took to the pitch in gleaming yellow Lotto kit, the dugout staff resplendent in monogrammed tops calmly perusing the lush pitch. Hastings’ appeared in what looked like a three year old Burnley kit and their two touchline generals snarled purposefully with shaven heads and mismatched kit at any official in ear shot.

In distinct contrast to our assumptions Farnborough started pragmatically and Hastings played some tidy attacking football. Liam Upton forced Barnard in the ‘Boro goal into making the game’s first fingertip save.

From about then until half time, the referee, a Mr Georgiou of ‘London’ (below), tried his very best to antagonise players, fans and management from both sides. He essentially ruined what could have been an entertaining half. Such was his fuckwittery that the degree with which both sides greeted his ludicrous decisions descended gradually from disbelief, plummeted through frustration and smashed headfirst into anger.

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This did, however, bring out the best in both sets of fans. Hastings had brought some drums, Farnborough some lungs. The repertoire was purely mainstream, “Carefreeeee, wherever we may be …”, “Yellows, Yellows” and the drummed Bang, Bang, BangBangBang, BangBangBangBang “HASTINGS”, but it was lively, passionate and more noise than we’d heard so far this season.

Farnborough gradually played more football, the powerful midfield taking back some control. Hastings continued fluently and with purpose but retreated into counter attack, albeit with some menace. There was a hopeful penalty appeal for Farnborough, a Hastings player got the ‘Cheat, Cheat, Cheat’ treatment for receiving treatment, McDonald twisted and tricked and there were one or two flowing moves from both sides.

McDonald, Ibe and Holloway combined in one move on the edge of Hastings’ box and each could have shot before one of them finally curled a shot past the post and into the impressive looking stand/building site behind the goal.

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The whistler kept on whistling and, after about half an hour, there was a flurry of bookings. This was the spark that ignited a small scale scuffle about five minutes later. Five further minutes and the embers were well alight. All hell broke loose and 20 players shoved each other about for a minute or so. Although you shouldn’t absolve players of blame, the ref basically created the fire and then spent 40 minutes fanning the flames.

The best move of the game brought the half to a close. Hastings exchanged passes down the left side, more passes saw them drift across the edge of the box. Yet more passes switched the ball to the right and deeper to the right back Elliot. A change of pace saw the ball played forward and a tidy turn by Sam Adams created space for a reasonable shot that faded narrowly past the post.

HT – Farnborough 0 Hastings 0

All that was missing from the game was a sending off and a goal. We asked a steward if there was some history between the teams or whether the ref was just useless. “No history, the refs a fucking idiot” was the not unreasonable but terse riposte. We discover that the Farnborough bar, ‘The Dugout’, hosts regular tribute bands, coming soon a UB40 tribute that appears to be fronted by Heston Blumenthal. Should have taken pictures.

The clock resumed at 45minutes, shortly after £2 was exchanged for a thick ‘Fat Boy’ ice cream which was, apparently, shat into the cone by a loose bowelled machine and an apologetic vendor. 6 minutes later, McDonald jinked around on the edge of the box and was tackled. The ball fell loose to a loitering Jack King who smashed a rocket past a bewildered keeper. They embraced, beautifully, below.

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Farnborough 1 Hastings 0

The niggles had settled down and the ref had been replaced with an identical yet competent one. Farnborough had also upped the ante and were bossing it. On 62 minutes Bubb drifted past several defenders towards the byline and slipped a shot across the keeper into the corner. The ice cream presses on.

Farnborough 2 Hastings 0

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Goal celebration music: Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock ‘It Takes 2’ (get it, you see what they did there?). What next? 3 Is The Magic Number? Tsk. After this cool but out of place celebration music faded out the Farnborough fans moved on to “Are you watching Arse N All”, recalling their 2003 FA Cup match against the Gooners. Still the ice cream lingers.

Amid the celebrations Hastings went right up the other end and promptly had a goal disallowed for offside. 67 minutes. Ice cream completed, steady handed photos resume. 22 minutes to eat the biggest ice cream ever. Farnborough fans were now giving Nessling’s goal kicks the “aaaaaaahhhs” as he ran up to take them.

The next Hastings break brought about what was either a beautifully floated and judged shot or a mishit cross, difficult to tell from where we were. Either way it sailed into the top corner and Hastings were back in it. 18 minutes left.

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Farnborough 2 Hastings 1

In the last 10 minutes Farnborough had two great chances to wrap it up but a heroic tackle on the penalty spot halted sub Thomas and Bubb hogged when a pass would have found Thomas unmarked

The game closed with Farnborough’s slightly unhinged McMahon shepherding the ball up the touchline to run down the clock. He looked around for a ‘man-on’ call, didn’t get it so loosened his control. A Hastings player nipped in and robbed him. With eyes red and mouth frothing McMahon rounded on his nearest team mate and shouted “You Fucking Cunt” for not giving him the call. A great way to end the game.

FT – Farnborough 2 Hastings 1

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In some ways you have to admire the rebuilding of Farnborough. The tidy ground, professional staff, big fit players and new stand show intent to get back to the Conference. But at the same time, the revolving ad boards, ‘naming rights’ plea for the stand, glossy programme and goal celebration music exudes a sterile whiff of the big leagues and a pong of homogeny. The magic of the cup was definitely at Farnborough today but it was tinged with the aspirational anti-football that has tainted the game. And now it’s late and I’ve had far too much to drink.

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