the real fa cup

Wasps Lack Sting At Boring Goring

One of the joys of following the early rounds of the FA Cup is the opportunity to visit grounds you would otherwise have never bothered to frequent. Due to a prior engagement with a poker table at a friends house, I found myself on a train bound for Horsham in West Sussex on this, the last hot day of the summer.

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Having managed to rid myself of the loudest, most talkative German tourist I have ever encountered by willing him to leave the train at Gatwick Airport I arrived in sunny Horsham with just enough time for a quick libation in the local hostelry, The Bedfont, before heading slightly out of town to the well-hidden Gorings Mead – the home of ‘YM’ as they like to call themselves for the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. Horsham YMCA of the Ryman League Division 1 South take on East Grinstead Town of the division below, the Sussex County Football League.

Both teams were recently promoted into their current divisions – YM as a result of an invitation to join the Ryman League and The Wasps as a result of romping to the Division 2 title last season by a mammoth 18 points. However, the lofty levels to which the 2 clubs have risen has given them both some football vertigo and they have only managed a measly 8 points between them this season in a combined total of 12 games so the Cup was a welcome relief for both sides. Or it should have been.

The game started slowly with neither side really creating a chance worthy of the name in the whole of the 1st half. Lots of midfield scrapping but little end product saw the half come and go with no-one having registered on the score sheet – not even nearly. On the way into the club house at half time, I was told that the best action I was likely to get for my camera would be in the showers after the game and not on the field of play by one of the fans. I’m not entirely sure what was meant by this – was Horsham YMCA a secret cover for some massive swingers club? I chuckled and walked off into the bar assuming that the suggestion was solely a reference to the poor quality of the first half.

I had travelled to the game on my own but was to meet some friends at the ground – however, they’d only managed to arrive a mere 5 minutes before half time which may have been a blessing in disguise for them really. The female of the pair was tasked with writing notes on the game to assist me with the report you find yourself reading right now. However, she is not exactly known for her football knowledge so the details of the second half of this most ordinary of FA Cup occasions are sketchy at best.

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The game itself was won by a freak goal 10 minutes into the second period when a throw-in from the left hand side was headed weakly towards the Wasps goal by the YM number 8, Mike Huckett (recorded by my faithful scribe as number 11, despite having been told the scorer’s number by one of the YM substitutes warming up in front of us at the time). The ball looped up tamely towards the top left hand corner of Ray Collier’s so-far untroubled goal but he failed miserably to keep it out and it bounced in to the Wasps net after hitting both the corner of post and crossbar and the unfortunate goalkeeper’s body. 1-0 to YM and that, as it turned out, was to be the final score.

The detailed notes provided by my eager helper inform me that, in the minutes that followed, the no.11 “hit the post with a ball” which seems the most likely object to have hit the post during such an event as this but I suppose you can never be too clear about these things.

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The game was still meandering aimlessly and, with Horsham seemingly uninterested or unable to put the game to bed and secure their passage into the next round, East Grinstead decided to push for an equaliser. Some sustained pressure was applied to the YM goal leading Mark Pulling in the Horsham defence to yell “What the f**k is going on?” to his team mates after a particularly close call from a corner. Another effort was spectacularly tipped over the bar by Tom Rand in the Horsham goal. The best chance fell to substitute Aaron Macmillan who witnessed the ball land at his feet 10 yards out only to blast it way over the bar and into the nearest Horsham resident’s garden.

In the end, despite their best efforts, East Grinstead couldn’t finish any of their chances and the game petered out with a 1-0 win for Horsham.

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I suppose that one can never expect a pulsating encounter in a Cup game between two teams who are both suffering the trauma of recent promotion followed by the realisation of their shortcomings in the higher league but this was a poor example of FA Cup football. Some neat play in midfield was never given the final ball it deserved and precious few chances came about at either end so 1-0 from a bizarre goal seems like the most appropriate outcome. I can’t see YM troubling any of the bigger boys in the competition this year but you never know.

1 Comment
  1. Your faithful female scribe at this match is incredibly (and I have to say wholly disproportionately) excited at being obliquely referred to in this article. A career in non-numeric journalism beckons….

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