Who Are Ya?
These are the words on the lips of Brighton, Leyton Orient, Carlisle, Wycombe, Colchester, Aldershot and Swindon fans. Their respective teams are all facing non-league opposition in this weekend’s FA Cup 2nd Round. The sharp-eyed among you will notice that we don’t include Charlton or Stevenage fans in that list. Well, they may also be facing clubs outside the top 4 divisions but their fans will know exactly who their opponents are (Luton) and might even have played them quite recently (AFC Wimbledon), so the terrace epithet doesn’t really apply.
Bloody Hell! – Droylsden .v. Leyton Orient.
The fabulously monikered Bloods will be inviting The O’s for transfusion at the Butchers Arms on Sunday. The source of Droylsden’s messy nickname is, surprisingly, unknown, despite the seemingly obvious connection with butchery that their ground’s name provides. The season before last was a most historic one for Blue Square North’s Droylsden. Against most of the odds they dumped League 2’s Darlington out of the First Round. In Round Two a Sean Newton brace saw them past Chesterfield 2-1 and their reward was a tie against Ipswich Town in the 3rd Round.
The Bloods rubbed their hands at what would have been a massive payday and then created history of a different type when it was discovered Newton should have been serving a one match suspension in Round Two and they were booted out of the tournament. They were neither the first nor the last to suffer that fate but it was the second time in 3 years that the team Ipswich were supposed to face in the Third Round were kicked out, Bury having suffered the same fate for fielding an ineligible player in 2006.
Seagulls Beware – Brighton & Hove Albion .v. FC United of Manchester.
FCUM may well be the whipping boys remaining but their performance at Rochdale in the last round has to be a front-runner for the rather cheesy ‘Ronnie Radford Award’ the FA have thoughtfully invented for the best Giant Killing display of the tournament. And the Seagulls did only just sneak past Woking in the last round. Lightning doesn’t often strike twice in the FA Cup and the paucity of tickets at the Withdean has restricted the away following, so they won’t quite have the raucous backing they did at Spotland. Struggling in the Evostick League, FC have lost their last four, with their eyes on this game, and Brighton have stuttered a little but are still looking good.
Super Marine! – Colchester United .v. Swindon Supermarine.
If you fancy going to Colchester you’ll have to brave replacement buses or a circuitous train journey and then a trek out to the A12 to Colchester’s new ground. U’s manager John Ward claims to have a dossier on each Supermarine player which should hold his players in good stead, if they take any notice. That’s one of the things about these occasions, teams can prepare as much as they like but if they go into the game, Arsenal, thinking they only need to turn up, then they often get a surprise. And, being as erratic as Colchester have been in the last month, three wins two defeats, you have to wonder. Add in the fact that Marine haven’t tried their hand at doffing up a league club yet and, well, who knows?
Grotesque – Crawley Town .v. Swindon Town.
The actual, real, league side from Swindon will be the rare exception in Round Two: they will be the only league side facing a non-league side that most non-league fans will want to see win. Universally unpopular Crawley Town have been accused of grotesquely trying to buy promotion, unsettling rival team’s players and cynically poaching those from a lower league or less loaded club. Whether you agree with this or not, it’s almost impossible to see Crawley as the massive underdogs that two league divisions would seem to suggest.
Currently second in the Conference with a game in hand that, if won, would seem them two points clear, Crawley’s funding is almost certainly on a par with Swindon’s. Indeed, along with several other League One clubs, Swindon were rumoured to be competing with Crawley to sign players who subsequently chose to head to West Sussex. Having seen AFC Wimbledon clinch the moral high ground earlier in the season, beat Crawley in last year’s FA Cup and seen Swindon give Premier League Fulham a tricky game last season, we’re also rooting for the league side here. Sorry to be predictable, we’re not quite the Crawley haterz like some other pundits but, at the moment at least, we’d rather not see the unseemly cash-throwing approach prevail in non-league football.
Lambs To The Slaughter? – Carlisle United .v. Tamworth.
The Lambs’ League Cup Winning former Leicester playmaker, Stefan Oakes, arguably holds the key to their success at League One’s Carlisle. Part of Martin O’Neill’s 2000 Wembley side, Oakes is the fulcrum of and experienced head on a Tamworth side in a bit of flux outside the FA Cup. Hovering dangerously close to the Blue Square Premier’s relegation zone, caretaker boss, former Forest fullback Des Lyttle, and assistant caretaker boss, former Baggies legend Bob Taylor, are unlikely to get much joy in the North West. Having said that, with the freezing weather closing in it is entirely plausible this game either won’t go ahead or will be played in conditions that might level up the game a little.
Phoenix – Dover Athletic .v. Aldershot Town.
Do we really need to tell you about Dover? You know, the ones that three weeks ago emphasised the word Schadenfreude for Gillingham fans? What about Aldershot? Didn’t they go bust? Yes. One of the modern era’s original phoenix clubs, Aldershot were re-born in 1992 into the third tier of the Isthmian League. It took them just ten years to get to the Conference and, after another six years, they returned to the league in 2008. Having spent the last 18 years being the young Turks, Aldershot now, for the first real time since regaining their league place, are the clear favourite in an FA Cup tie. Can they handle it? We think possibly not…
Boring Boring Wycombe – Wycombe Wanderers .v. Chelmsford City.
Having despatched Hayes & Yeading with pragmatic, unambitious relative comfort, Wycombe Wanderers probably won’t be quite as cautious against the underdog as other sides facing such a tie for the first time. But they should. Having watched them pick off AFC Wimbledon two seasons ago with similar pragmatic aplomb, they then went to Eastwood Town and lost. Hoho. Chelmsford have had the relative good fortune of being drawn against sides at the same or slightly lower level than them. Their biggest test so far was way back in October against the team that now head their league, Bromley, but since then it’s been a festival of victories against Ryman League sides.
If you’ll be Tweeting from the game just let us know who you are and we’ll add you to the list. And you might be surprisd to hear we are off to none of these games for a change. So, if you’re a witty, erudite writer with some time and inclination, we’d be happy to host any FA Cup match reports you might want to throw our way! Make sure you get a quirky photo though!
Cheres, Damon & Simon.