the real fa cup

Pie, War Heroes & Very Cheap Beer


The FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round – Now some decent business starts.  This is when the fans start turning up, this is when hints of giant killers start to manifest.  South Park, thus far have shown pedigree above their station in the Cup.  As have London Colney. This round sees the prize money leap to a most welcome, indeed necessary, £3000 fillip.

Redbridge v London Colney
Our Saturday game this round sees us traipse over to East London, somewhere we haven’t really been yet. Redbridge started life as Ford United and Ford Motors, quite logically linked to the massive car plant that enveloped Dagenham and its surrounding area for decades. Much needed jobs and a lot of the plant has since disappeared so the club took the decision in 2004 to rename the team to reflect the local community rather than the dying industry behemoth.

In the mid 90s Ford Utd were going through some tricky financial times when relatively new and cutting edge football broadcaster Sky Sports bought up a lucrative and very late sponsorship deal that saved the club. Yep, you read that right, Sky Sports saves non-league football club. No, we couldn’t quite believe it either. Although we did believe it more than we believed Alan Pardew was Palace’s party animal ring leader.

In recent years Redbridge have been sliding down the football pyramid with two recent relegations.  Former Wimbledon and Bolton striker Dean Holdsworth cut his managerial teeth at the Oakside stadium and stopped that slide by taking the Motormen to 3rd in the Ryman 1st Division North. He’s since gone on to much acclaim at a resurgent Newport County and Redbridge have slipped back again.

London Colney are two steps lower on the pyramid and should be put to bed. BUT, the FA Cup isn’t like that and Redbridge’s Adam Dennehey acknowledged that they noted the Blueboys away win at Southern League side Marlow 2-1 in the previous and so will not be underestimating them.

Adam is well aware this could be a tricky tie, especially given Colney’s 7-0 midweek league win and that Colney beat Marlow despite having their keeper Mark Whittamore taken to hospital with a ruptured spleen. With no other keeper available Whittamore was replaced by an outfield player for remainder of the game. Ironically, and bafflingly, the Colney manager Julian Robinson was sacked after the game!  We’re led to believe this was down to a disagreement with the club’s hierarchy about the quality of close season signings but, on the evidence of the last couple of weeks, the signings seem to have done pretty well.

Sutton United v Alton Town
IMG_2725.JPGYeah, yeah, we’re showing some favouritism here, we’ve featured Sutton twice already this season. But we have some photos and want to use them. A cracking time was had by us and the Sutton fans on Wednesday night when they hosted U’s FA Cup legend Tony Rains, Palace hero Geoff Thomas, football dad Ray Stubbs and the FA Cup itself. All shiny it was. Whether it was the real one we’ll never know but it was well polished and large men in black suits told us not to touch it. We did though. Fuck you, AUTHORITY!!

Anyway, the football match … Sutton are firing on many cylinders, striker Richard Jolly, one of our favourite Tweeting footballers, is bashing in the goals (4 in 6 games) and Sutton are top of the Ryman Premier League. Alton, on the other hand are sieve-like and two tiers lower in the pyramid. This could be a mauling but this is the FA Cup and in the previous round Alton, without a win in the league managed to beat a Ryman team half way up the league above. So, beware. We must give a quick mention for the lovely Jenny The Giraffe, Sutton’s mascot.


Tadcaster Albion v Shildon
If the mighty viaduct isn’t enough to drag you along to Tadcaster, maybe the oldest independent brewery in Yorkshire will?  If not that, then what about the fact that said brewery, and two others, flog their wares in the local pubs at about half the price you’ll buy them in your own local?  Sold?  Good! But if that’s still not enough then how about popping along to watch the current Northern Counties East Division 1 champions who have scored nine goals in their last two home games? Shildon sit atop Northern League Division 1 so not only could this be a cheap day out, it could also be a cracking one. And Lee Chapman plays for Shildon. Sadly not THAT one.

West Auckland Town v Bradford (Park Avenue)
As we’ve said in our ITV preview, West Auckland, believe it or not, were the ‘First World Cup Winners’ . The Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy was, technically, neither the first international tournament (that was the year before and only happened once) nor did it feature worldwide teams. The teams were only from Europe, there were only four of them and they weren’t exactly European behemoths in the first tournament in 1909.  However, two years later, in the second and final tournament, West easily won through against FC Zurich and then hammered Juve 6-1 in the final.

There are a few clubs in the competition who can claim to be former league clubs but Park Avenue are and possibly the only ones to have finished 9th in the First Division. Yeah, yeah, back in the day anyone could be in the first division but this wasn’t quite the dusty old times of football’s pre-history, it was in 1915 after they event of professionalism and PA had to gain promotion from Division 2 to achieve it.


One of the stars of that 1915 team, Donald Simpson Bell, left his cosy life behind to become the first professional footballer to enlist for the Great War. Within a year, Simpson Bell was bogged down in the Somme in gun to hand combat with the Bosch. In July 1916 he led an audacious/brave/foolish charge across no man’s land to take an enemy machine gun post by force, shooting the gunner, blowing up 50 soldiers and destroying the gun with grenades. For this wanton act of near suicide Simpson Bell received the Victoria Cross for ‘Conspicuous Bravery’. We’re not remotely belittling Donald’s bravery but you’ve all read of the perils of unprotected no man’s land and, after another spun of Russian roulette five days later, he was sadly but inevitably gunned down.

Glossop North End v Mossley AFC
Any regular readers and Twitter followers will be more than aware of GNE’s fantastic award winning pies and probably of legendary blagger and blogger Haggis In Ponderland. Mr Haggis is a deep cover insider at Glossop and his position, combined with fortune, opportunity and (I hope he doesn’t mind me saying) some massive bollocks, meant he could pencil his name into the final line on Glossop’s under strength team so he was officially a sub in a recent FA Cup game. He’s far more eloquent than us so read his account of it here.

GNE themselves have  made very hard work of the FA Cup this season. Having been effectively out of the Cup at 90 minutes in both of their games, it’s perhaps little surprise that with so many late goals, the vast majority of goals they’ve scored have been by subs – 6 out of 7 and the other one was in extra time so obviously doesn’t count. SO, ALL of GNE’s FA Cup goals this year have been scored by subs.

Mr Haggis, or Jonathan Haggart to give him his undercover pseudonym, not only entertains us with his blog but also proved exceptionally helpful to us Southerners with no idea about Vodkat. He gave us the lowdown on Glossop a bit of history of local rivalries and some good links to bloggers of all the local sides. Top notch – and for that simple reason GNE get our backing this weekend.

North End’s natural, historical rivals are over the hills a few miles and are New Mills. Until recently they’ve had quite a lean … errr … half a century and Mossley briefly took their place as GNE’s derby day excitement. They’ve never faced each other in the Big Ol’ Jug but form and history is firmly on the home side. Having bigged up GNE and Jonathan’s blog we have to spare a thought for poor Mossley fans, never more amusingly led than by the increasingly downtrodden Mossley80. Well worth a read for the sometimes  miserable existence of non-league, or indeed any, fans.

Curzon Ashton v New Mills
With an unusually Northern bent to this week’s preview, we now include the other GNE rival, New Mills.  We’ll start with Curzon, though, because they have some quality, recent previous when it comes to Giant Killing.  Just two years ago Gambian international James Ogoo scored the winner for Ashton when they beat League 2 side Exeter 3-2. He’ll need to have visited his beanstalk on Saturday though because New Mills have started the season in as good form as any team in the country. Their phenomenal early season record is: won every game they’ve played, five points clear at the top of the Vodkat North West Counties Premier League and in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup they thumped Alsager 10-2. Eek!


Cray Wanderers v South Park
We’re off to this game on Sunday, assuming the frickin’ trains allow us. If not, the Zeitgeist cycle method of football transport will have to be dragged out of the shed. South park are still on ITV’s Road To Wembley and, as we predicted last week , they travel to Cray Wanderers, one of the old ladies of the FA Cup. This year historic Cray celebrate 150 years of existence and are the 2nd oldest club in the world. South Park are three tiers below chocolate-shirted Cray in the football pyramid but completely annihilated Ryman League (Div 1 Sth) Horsham YMCA in the last round so who knows what will happen here. Maybe South Park are this year’s Paulton Rovers or Havant & Waterlooville?

As a post-script to today’s preview we’d like to take a moment to reflect. After the massive buzz non-league football got out of Non-League Day, it was brought crashing down to earth with two pieces of bad news. There are others but these two the only ones that directly affect the FA Cup.

RIP Rams & Robins
The clouds descended over Croydon Athletic’s owner Mazhar Majeed when he was honeytrapped by the News of the World and embroiled in cricket’s latest match fixing scandal. A side issue to the cricket hordes, it was then noticed he’d boasted of laundering money through his football club. Oh dear. Croydon has resigned from the FA Cup, postponed all games and appear, at worst, to be heading for football’s exit door.

After all that misery we were hoping that a team we saw last year, Ilkeston Town, would be given the benefit of the doubt and have a stay of execution over the money troubles. The courts had other ideas and they were wound up over a £50k tax debt which effectively terminates their 116 year  history.  Very sad. Spare a thought for fans of these teams and maybe rein in the expectations you have for your own club. Stretch too far and the elastic snaps. Some people just haven’t got a clue.

Check us out on the ITV website and go to the FA site for the full fixture list.

If you have any questions comments or ephemera give us a Tweet.

Roll on the weekend!

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