For ‘Best Player’, read performance, this is basically the best individual effort from a player during the course of the FA Cup, a player who dominated one game so much that he was the difference.
We gathered your nominations, had a scout round and have come up with a short list for you to peruse and make your choice. We’ve asked people who were at these games to give us the lowdown.
Gary Paterson – Southend Manor
Gary is nominated for his extraordinary goalscoring exploits in Manor’s 4-2 win over Chertsey.
Will Obeney writes.
Scoring four goals in a game is no mean feat and often requires good fortune, but Gary Paterson didn’t need it. He had to contend with higher-league opposition who won promotion from the Combined Counties Premier Division last season with the league’s second best defence. And for a man described as “substantially built” by the Chertsey Town match report, the fact that the game was played on the hottest 1st October ever could not have helped. Paterson is not even his club’s top scorer, and his performance, which included two well-placed headers and a deft finish, along with a penalty, earned him an FA nomination for the Player of the Round. In an online poll of over 1000 votes, he lost by 15 to Sutton United’s Leroy Griffiths, who had also scored four that day. But instead of playing higher-league opposition, Sutton had played Dulwich Hamlet, two leagues below the Conference South side. And Griffiths has played at QPR and Gillingham. His performance didn’t really compare with that of Manor’s front man. Undeterred, Paterson came back in the next round to score a hat-trick against Leighton Town, yet he finished second in the Player of the Round poll yet again, missing out on a trophy and VIP tickets to the FA Cup final. Gary must have wondered what he has to do to win; the least we can do is give this man an award from The Real FA Cup!
Paul Smith – Whyteleafe
Like Margate’s Jamie Turner, Paul is nominated for a shot-stopping masterclass in their 2-2 draw with Folkestone Invicta
PutAJumperOn respects the netminder
Far too often the sports pages are filled with the big name players, the fancy dans, and the goal scorers. The rule is simple; if one is the darling of the media one can be a total bystander for most of the game before slotting the ball home in the 73 minute and be almost guaranteed to walk away with the cheap bottle of bubbly. The problem is this is totally at odds with the idea of a team sport. In a team sport all players are equal.
In this game there were two standout performances; Folkestone’s Darren Smith (a goal scorer), and Whytleafe’s Paul Smith (a goal conceder). The former was good but the latter was exceptional. He was so good that Whyteleafe would probably have lost by four or five without him. Furthermore, in the rearranged Quarter Final tie between Tottenham and Bolton the world and its wife fawned over the performance of Adam Bogdan in the visitor’s goal. Well, having been to both games, I can safely say that Paul Smith’s display was equal to, if not better than, Bogdan’s. He was sublime. The goals conceded were not his fault, and so impressed were the home side that they gave him the Man of the Match award at the final whistle.
Put A Jumper On’s fine and eclectic blog can be found here.
Tom Webb – Gloucester City
Tom is nominated for his swashbuckling performance in their 7-2 win over Truro.
Fan and follower Jenni Silver nominates Captain Fantastic, Gloucester City’s local lad done good.
He might have helped the Tigers to promotion (despite the club being exiled from their home ground), he may have smashed the club’s appearance record at the age of 26 but, until October, he hadn’t scored in a long, long time.
Webb’s lack of goals had become a running joke among City fans. My other half had even wagered an ambitious £10 per Webb goal in the annual sponsor a goal fundraiser. But the week prior to the Truro tie something amazing happened, after almost three years Tom Webb appeared on the scoresheet in City’s 3-2 defeat away at Bishops Stortford.
Most City fans turning up to Whaddon Road (City’s rented home for the past two seasons) last October were already pessimistic, the FA Cup has never been something the club excels at, no one expected much.
But even before kick off Webb looked up for it, the 27-year-old PE teacher is the Tigers’ own Tigger on a normal day, this time was no different. With 20 minutes played Gloucester had snatched an early lead, 80 seconds in but Truro had drawn level, it looked like being one of those afternoons.
Webb, roaring down the left flank, collected a pass from Will Morford, beat his marker and advanced towards goal. As Webb calmly slotted the ball under the Truro keeper, into the back of the net, there was a pause and then genuine delight from the fans and Webb’s teammates, both shocked at the class and composure of the goal.
Webb’s goal was probably not the best scored at Whaddon Road that day, my personal favourite was Matt Lock’s free kick (the 9th goal scored during the course of the afternoon) but his fizzing energy drove the team to an eventual 7-2 victory. His goal gave Gloucester the boost to power through to the end.
With more than ten year’s worth of miserable cup runs in the back of his mind Webb was perhaps mindful of the need to win. He still winces when you say the words “Chalfont St Peters” (victorious over City in 2008) and remains one of the club’s (and the city’s) proudest ambassadors.
When he broke the appearance record last season he joked that the children he teaches PE to in his day job always ask him why he doesn’t score – at least now he has video proof that, on the right day, he can do it (his second in a week, following a three year ‘break’ from scoring).
More of Jenni’s writing can be found on the official Gloucester website.
Thanks to Jenny, Will and Mr P A Jumperon for agreeing to put some words to their and others’ nominations. And thanks to Mr P A Jumperon for the front page photo.