the real fa cup

Excellent Fish

Arriving at football matches by bicycle after having left the house 15 minutes before kick off is something I’m sure a lot of football fans would appreciate. Hours spent on motorways and trains are quite tiresome after a while so it’s quite superb to pedal round the corner to see a game from time to time.

We’ve been to Champion Hill many a few times – Dulwich Hamlet are our local side – but we’d yet to see ground-sharers Fisher FC play there – until tonight. I think it’s fair to say that we were more than pleasantly surprised.DSC_0014.JPG

By the end, Fisher manager Steve Firkins must have been wondering why his side hadn’t sealed their place in the Preliminary Round two days ago though, as they completely demolished Chichester City tonight. A 2-2 draw on Saturday between two teams in parallel leagues must have led most to think that the replay would again be quite even but it was nothing of the sort.

Early on, the game was noticeably quicker and more physical than either of the two games we’d already seen this weekend. Fisher knocked the ball around with confidence and were ahead within 10 minutes, Kenny Jarrett-Elliot kicking things off. 15 minutes later, Steve O’Donnell grabbed what would turn out to be his first goal of 3 with a superb finish.

Chichester were being taken apart with every attack but they managed to get themselves back in the game on the half hour through Joe Briggs and for a minute or three, the attitude of the South coast side moved significantly towards the positive. Until then, Fisher’s large-mouthed keeper, Danny Firkins had seen to it that everything the players in front of him said and did was well-organised, determined and assured. Chichester, on the other hand, were complaining about innocuous challenges and turning on one another in their frustration at being outplayed. Suddenly Chichester had something to play for. However, the positivity was short-lived as Monan put The Fish 3-1 up at half time.

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The obligatory visit to the excellent Champion Hill bar revealed the sad fact that there were just as many “football fans” there to watch the Premier League on TV than to watch the FA Cup action going on just outside the window, which was a shame. More fool them, they missed out on a cracker of a game outside, even if it was a bit one-sided.

The home side went on to score 3 more in the second half. O’Donnell grabbed his second 5 minutes after the break and Wadmore knocked in the 5th before O’Donnell finished off his hat-trick with the goal of the game after a flowing move which was by no means the first that Fisher had produced.

Chichester weren’t without their chances, to be fair – they hit the post early on and had the odd goalmouth scramble and one-on-one which came to nothing but their chances were few and far between in comparison to the relentless attacks from the home side. Fisher could well have scored 10 or more the way they played tonight – even as the time ticked away with the game done and dusted, their manager refused to let his players rest in preparation for the next game, urging them on right up until the end.

Every opportunity was taken to put the ball into space and create a chance and, with everyone also willing to sprint back and defend when the situation demanded it, Fisher looked like a team possessed and deservedly ran out 6-1 winners.

When we see teams playing like this in the Cup, it reminds us why we love these early rounds. Every one of the players on the pitch – from both sides – gave everything they had to win the game tonight. For £6 you’d struggle to find better entertainment anywhere else.

2 Comments
  1. I regret not visiting Fisher Athletic several years ago when I had the chance. Were the Surrey Docks renovations finished before the original club was wound up?

  2. “When we see teams playing like this in the Cup, it reminds us why we love these early rounds. Every one of the players on the pitch – from both sides – gave everything they had to win the game tonight. For £6 you’d struggle to find better entertainment anywhere else”

    Couldn’t agree more! Another excellent write up, makes me mindful of the fact that I have yet to visit Champion Hill…

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