the real fa cup

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Slough 5-1 Eastbourne

I feel sorry for Premiership fans (sort of). As well as being ripped off and treated like mugs, they also have to put up with watching football on days that completely muck up the rhythm of the week. Sunday football? Monday night? Please.

Now Slough seem to have become a Sunday League side. And it ain’t because the cameras have rolled into town.  I think ground sharing is a bit like house sharing.  You start off the best of mates but slowly you just get on each others nerves. The chip portions are too small, the loo seat lid is never down, you feel second best. Then you pay for the privilege of being knocked out in the play offs (which feels a bit like being mugged)! Then, to rub salt into a simmering wound, you have to go and play some of your games on a bloody Sunday.

Being single for the week and with a serious FA Cup addiction, I couldn’t resist watching an FA Cup game on the day God intended football to be played. Saturday 3pm. And let’s face it, you couldn’t get more traditional than Maidenhead United’s York Road, which is the oldest continuously used senior football ground in the world, home of The Magpies since 1871. I love their old ground right smack bang where football grounds should be – in the town centre. It could do with some investment but with old fashioned terraces and covering behind both goals what’s not to like?

As a few Slough fans supped our beers, Maidenhead scored. At least we think they did, the sound was pretty mute until the announcement came. As we eventually took up our position on the traditional terraces (these’s a theme running through this article) we watched a fantastic game of football as Maidenhead steamed ahead only for their opponents Bognor Regis Town, cheered on by their raucous fans, to come back into it. But the gap in the leagues showed and whereas Bognor squandered chances, Maidenhead were clinical.

Their manager Johnson Hippolyte has assembled a good, strong, young team punching above their weight in the Conference South. Not that I can ever forgive him for managing that made up football club Yeading who beat us in the FA Cup then drew Newcastle United in the third round.

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So onto Sunday and to make matters even worse, we had displeased the footballing Gods. While Saturday was a beautiful autumn day, Sunday was cold, wet and windy. Not only that but it was one of those poxy super hyped Sunday football specials on the TV encouraging people to sit in the comfort of their local pub (if they still have a traditional pub to go to anymore) rather than support their local non league club.  We at least ate a traditional Sunday roast to restore some balance to this crazy mixed up world.

Now by some quirk of fate, I’d seen Eastbourne Town in a previous round where they put paid to Chessington’s FA Cup world of adventure. When the draw was made all I could rather selfishly think of was wouldn’t it be better if it was in Eastbourne. As we stood freezing on the terraces, most people agreed.

Trying to play a defensive game didn’t suit the visitors and in the end it was an easy ride for Slough who are enjoying the FA Cup so far this season. 5-1 on the day, meant 13 goals in three FA Cup games and £9,250 in the bank. When you’re tenants, this is the sort of money that can make a big difference to a season.

My FA Cup adventures this season have had a seaside theme. Shoreham, Eastbourne, Bognor – even Whitehawk is just a mile from the sea. So it seems only right that Slough will play Margate away in the next round. As those fine traditionalists Chas and Dave (sort of) sung ‘You can keep the Costa Brava and all that palava, we’re gonna watch the Rebels in Margate.’

Maidenhead 4-2 Bognor Regis Town
Slough Town 5-1 Eastbourne Town

Words: Warren Carter, from the Slough Town Soapbox also known as @BrightonRebel.
Photos: Gary House, see Gary’s flikr and contact on Twitter @HorshamRebel

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