the real fa cup

2011 Awards – The Joyful Stuff

DSC_0048.JPG The Real FA Cup Awards Part 3.

Our surprisingly successful poll (3,000 votes!) earlier in the year decided FC United of Manchester were the people’s choice for the most impressive team of the season in the early rounds of the Cup. Hythe Town came a fractional and deserved second. We spoke to people from both clubs as the first two parts of our season’s review and here’s the final instalment, our highlights of the year and our First Choice XI team of the year.

The Best Quintessentially English Day Out:
Carshalton v Chelmsford in the 4th Qualifying Round. Our new favourite pub replete with Lord Nelson ephemera, a beer festival, antique bar billiards and florins (old 10p pieces). This is how pre-match drinking should be. What followed was a cracking cup tie with a (mostly) jolly atmosphere, a bit of passion, an exciting finish, a very tall man and all imbued with the evocatively long shadows of autumnal sunshine. A rammed and happy post-match pub topped it off.

The Real FA Cup Award For Cockle Warming: Jonathan Haggart
This will come as no surprise for those of you who follow us on Twitter, we’ve mentioned this guy a lot. This is the tale of frustrated, not-quite-footballer and club secretary Jonathan Haggart. Presented with an empty sub slot on Glossop North End’s official FA team sheet due to lack of bodies, Jonathan cunningly filled that slot with his own name, entering into the club’s history as an unused substitute in an FA Cup match! Not jealous, much.

IMG_2850.JPG Best Lino: Paul John
Watching the officials warm up pre-match at Arundel we wondered why Father Jack was running around the pitch. Sorry, Paul, we mean no ill but the hair and the painstakingly accrued beer festival waist accessory was reminiscent of everyone’s favourite priest. When we saw him stride out with a flag in his hand, we raised a collective eyebrow. But he ran the line, and ran, and ran, and as far as we could tell had a flawless game with firmness, certainty, no fuss and great humour. We subsequently found out he is one of the most cherished and respected officials in the Sussex League, which speaks volumes. If Carlsberg made linos …

Best Pub: The Hope
Obviously The Hope in Carshalton with a nod to the Bank in Sutton where we not only had a fine beer but it was also where therealfacup met the actual FA Cup, Geoff Thomas, Tony Rains and, begorra, ONLY RAY BLOODY STUBBS!

DSC_0008.JPG Best Fans: Kingstonian
Picture the scene, a 4,722 capacity stadium with 312 people in it. A phrase including the words ‘wizards sleeve’ might spring to mind. Echo, echo, echo, echo … Kingsmeadow! We’d only ever seen Kingstonian away and they’d made a decent effort of spurring on their team at Margate’s Dreamland but that didn’t prepare us, or indeed Margate ‘keeper Jamie Turner, for what was about to occur. If you can’t get enough fans to fill a stand, you shrink the stand to fit the fans. Huddled together like iron filings behind the magnet of the goal, the pocket of 100 or so K’s fans sang throughout the game with a breadth of songs that would put most German teams to shame. They bantered with and appreciated the Margate keeper, sucked in the pelanties in the shoot out and energised a dreary, grey South West London night. A toot of the realfacup vuvuzela to anyone who was there that night! Good work lads.

Late notable mention to Harlow Town fans for their joyful shenanigans in the Ryman 1 North play-off semi finals.

DSC_0004.JPG Best New Ground: Woking
Hmmmm … Cray Wanderers was a joy in the late summer sun, as was seeing my (Damon) bike on telly chained to a football stand, but a rammed Kingfield Stadium on a cold misty evening as Woking took on League 1 pace setters Brighton was a corker. Not quite the Berlin derby but a very FA Cup-ish close second. This is why replays should NEVER, EVER be done away with, this is why the FA would be fools to deny the plucky underdog their payday at a big club. A cold, damp evening in an old-school non-league stadium as neutrals await a shock is an integral part of the Cup’s charm. Get rid of that and a key vestige of ‘magic’ disappears forever.

Best Team Performance: Cray Wanderers
Cray Wanderers v South Park. Plucky underdogs they may have been but South Park were a man to the good for 75 minutes of this match, which really evened it up. Yet, in the second half, Cray’s 10 men could and perhaps should have run out more than the 1-0 winners they finally did. A never surrender attitude and fantastically gung-ho approach to being down to ten men, 4-3-2, is the way forward – as Swansea showed in the Play Offs.

Best Goal: Julian Ashby
This one probably goes to Julian Ashby of Redbridge in their qualifying game against London Colney. We may have benefitted from a good sightline but, jinking past a few players, he cut into the box from the touch line, played a swift one-two and then slotted a deft little shot with slight curl across the keeper and into the corner. A peach.

DSC_0029.JPG Best Individual Performance: Jamie Turner
Jamie Turner of Margate .v. Kingstonian (FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round). How many finger tip saves can a goalie make in one game? The answer is 74*. Add the blocked shots, claimed crosses and routine saves and Jamie Turner touched the ball more times than Xavi does in a whole season. *That might be slight Skyperbole but he was immense. Then saved two penalties in the shoot out and still lost!!

Meeting the FA Cup! Might have had a little tap when the bouncer, yes, the FA Cup has a bouncer, wasn’t looking. I won’t post the pictures, it was cheesy, well I was.

Worst Food: —-
Often on the road at lunchtime we didn’t frequently eat inside football grounds but there was some shocking fayre on offer around them or on the way to them. The pick of the heart attacks was Simon’s deep fried grease fest from the kebab shop outside Kingstonian’s Kingsmeadow ground, a place we’d never have gone near if Fat Boy’s Caff had been open but needs must and this unnamed place needs condemning.

Most Half Hearted Cup Exit: Sutton United
We’re most supportive of and sympathetic towards Sutton United usually but when not one but two of their own fans suggest it, we have to agree. Sutton United 1 Alton Town 2. Meek. Surrender.

Biggest SHOCK!
If we don’t pick FCUM’s hearty triumph over League 1’s Rochdale we’ll get lynched. So we will. After all, there was five divisions between them. However, special mentions also to Dover for beating Gillingham, a massive one in the eye for Scally. MASSIVE. And also to Hythe Town who beat Staines 2-0. 2009/10’s Giant Killers Killed.

DSC_0001.JPG Top Mascots: Jenny & The Gator
Non-League is not a hot spot for mascots but Haydon The Womble and York’s Yorkie The Lion were both nominated by their fellow furry friends, as were Jenny The Giraffe, and Howie the Hornet We only actually saw two this season so it’s a tie between the … errr … ‘gator from Margate, ‘Margator’ and Sutton United’s Jenny the Giraffe

The Graham Yapp Award For The Most Significant Hatrick Scored By Someone Whose Name Includes A Romantic Poet:
Byron Harrison – Carshalton 3 East Thurrock 2

Ludicrous Goal Scoring Exploits: Leyton Orient
You’ve been through 90 minutes of sheer hell, as some rapper once said in an ad for an energy drink, and you’ve taken a League One side to the limit. 2-2. 30 minutes of actual hell later and you’ve shipped six in extra time. Doh to Droylsden, 8-2 to Orient.

The Always Be Prepared Award:
Wembley FC spent the whole final training session in the lead up to the Cup opener learning some zonal marking moves to defend set pieces. 2 minutes into their tie with Witham, 1-0 down. Lost 3-0.

IMG_0498.JPG Best Flares:
Woking & Brighton get it for size, Harlow Town get runners up for ingenuity.

Thanks to everyone who’s contributed to the site this season, it’s been a joy, we’ll no doubt be back again next year going to some random grounds around the south east of England and, who knows, maybe further. To round this all off, here’s the best eleven players we’ve seen this year, not necessarily in the FA Cup mind. And to top it all off the newly created and highly prestigious <drum roll> ‘Player Of The Season’.

The Real FA Cup First XI:

GK: Jamie Turner (Margate) First name on the team sheet for keeping Kingstonian at bay with more saves than Robert Green made all season.

RB: Inigo Calderon (Brighton) Nullified Watford and yet still managed to start off Brighton’s good moves and get forward at will.
LB: Taricco (Brighton) Ahhhh, little Mo, out of retirement after 6 years, sets up a goal then gets sent off. Then scores the following week.
CB: Francis Duku (Dulwich Hamlet) Count Duku, immense (if a little erratic) at times but so good all defenders should be measured in Dukus.
CB: Rob Grove (Arundel) Libero of the Sussex League!! Who’d have thought?

DSC_0048.JPG RM: Paul Robinson (Whitley Bay) Well, he had to get in didn’t he? We interviewed him you know. Oh and he won a trinket again.
LM: Julian Ashby (Redbridge) Mazy run, tidy one-two, curled into the corner, picture postcard FA Cup dreams.
CM: Matt Gray (Kingstonian) The Boss. The non-league Glenn Hoddle. You need a defence splitting pass? Send for Matt! Although even he couldn’t find a way past Jamie Turner.

F: Jacob Walcott (Staines) Better than Theo, doesn;t have legs made of biscuit.
F: Paul Chow (Whitley Bay) This man knows where the goal is. By our reckoning another 30 goal season, scored in every round of the FA Vase, more goals at Wembley … what next?
F: Harrison (Carshalton) The Chelmsford defence didn’t even know where he was for most of the game at Colston Avenue.



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