the real fa cup

Yellow & White

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Sutton United 0 Staines 1

Essentially, this game can be summed up in one word. Dull. More appropriately it can be encapsulated in a sentence. Staines scored in the first minute, there was a scuffle just before half time that resulted in red, the woodwork was struck and Sutton could perhaps have equalised. That’s yer lot.

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Bye then. But, there’s something we meant to do a while ago and this affords us the perfect chance to do so. A Tale Of Two Uniteds by Jeff Perkins was handed to us in a brown paper bag (well, white plastic) by an undercover Sutton operative in exchange for good copy (not really, I still owe him a pint).

The book is a piece of history, your dad will remember it. It’s the story not only of the biggest game of Leeds United’s history against mighty Sutton in the 4th round of the FA Cup in 1970 but it is so, so much more. OK, like us, Jeff is quite probably not the most stylish or verbose writer you’ll ever read and, let’s face it, the story here is very niche. However, this is one of the most genuine books you’ll ever read. It is, on the whole a thoroughly engaging and heartfelt book. At times it dwells too much on minutae to be totally fluid but it is also a cracking document of not only a moment in time but the people involved in it.

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The book, classically, sets the scene, leads up to the main event and introduces you to the characters through historical document and modern day interview. It uncovers the emotions experienced by the underdog protagonists and discovers what they went on to do afterwards. It draws you in to the world of the footballer, the non-league footballer and the fan.

Whether deliberately or by happenstance, what this book does beautifully is illustrate the VAST gulf between players of yore and today. It also hints at why these people played football for enjoyment, rather than pursuing fame or money. In short, it’s what non-league football was, and in some ways still is, about, in comparison to probably the best team in England at the time.

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I was familiar with no more than a couple of the Sutton men, for they were men, involved but what came across was what you and I think when we play football. It’s fun, it’s a game.

As far we’re aware this book can only be obtained via the Sutton United website here – but, if anyone knows otherwise, please let us know.

A Tale Of Two Uniteds by Jeff Perkins £6.95

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