the real fa cup

Stansted v Brantham Athletic

Wasps.

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We’ve been here before. A lunchtime sitting in the pub being bothered by wasps. A game in the sun being bothered by wasps. A late afternoon in the pub being bothered by wasps.

Wasps, it turns out, are useful for almost nothing. They eat some mosquitos but that’s about it. Pointless, useless wasps. A bit like all of the forwards we’ve seen over the last three days. Friday: one dive, one sending off, some sweary players, some grazed woodwork, no goals. Saturday: smoke bombs, ‘sexy lino’, sparklers, flags, woodwork hit, shouting, a blatant dive and no goals. Sunday … wasps …

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Goals are becoming an increasing rarity, certainly rarer than the unicorn I (am sure I) saw from the train window in a travellers’ camp somewhere in Hertfordshire. Beautiful white horse-like thing with a massive growth on its’ nose. Unicorn, right? Not a horse with a massive growth on its’ nose?

In Colliers Wood on Saturday, there were eight goals, in Ashington on Saturday it was nine, in Chichester there were ten and Bristol Manor Farm managed a whopping 12! We got Enfield 1893 0-0 London Tigers and Clapton 0-0 Stanway Rovers. Spare us a goal guv, spare a tanner for the goal-less.

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There was something in the air at Bishops Stortford’s ProKit stadium, and it wasn’t just the glorious, sonic whiff of jet fuel from the next door Mountfitchet. No, it was the masonic whiff of the Brotherhood of Noah. Why they sponsor a turnstile at the ProKit stadium needs explanation. And more so why that turnstile was operated by no less a legend than Mo Farah! Unicorns, masons and Olympic gold medalists, this place must ooze goals.

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After 180 odd minutes of watching players shin, blaze, swipe, scuff, hoik, mis-kick and loft balls over the bar, the first half of Stansted v Brantham Athletic looked like breaking our FA Cup goal drought. Brantham well on top and threatening but susceptible to the breakaway. Recipe for goals. A splendid save from the Stansted keeper got very close and bought a “great stop keeper, should have held it though” from one of our number. The keeper turned to us with a perky grin on his face. Ho ho.

And the ball IS in the net. Yes, YEAH, YEESSSS! We’ve been getting closer: a grazed bar on Friday, a thumped bar on Saturday and now the ball IS IN THE ONION SACK. Unfortunately, the whistler ruined it, long before the ball was tapped in. But we’re definitely getting closer to that elusive goal.

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Half time. The beer flowed swiftly and nervously, we didn’t want to miss the inevitable goal glut in the second half. That second half, yeah, never really happened, never really got going. A few blazes, some hoiks and the occasional flash, yes. Goals, no.

By our slightly flawed calculations, the last blank we saw was Redbridge 0-0 Oxford City, in Nov 2011. So, yeah, we’ve been lucky, we’ve been through about 40-50 games with no shut outs but why make up for that by giving us three barren ties inside 45 weekend hours … *shakes fist at football gods*. For illustrative purposes see stock ‘disappointed’ photo, below, of the impact goal droughts can have on football fans. Shocking scenes.

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On the upside, I got to see a unicorn and also got some shallow but brutal revenge by sealing both goals in Wasps 0-2 Humans in several short minutes at the Nags Head Beer Stadium, Bishop’s Stortford. Lovely pub, lovely garden but, if you venture there soon, watch out for the wasps and the unnecessarily aggressive taps. The water force will take your hands off.

Stansted 0-0 Brantham Athletic
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round, 18/08/13

Words and pictures, copyright therealfacup, except Brotherhood of Noah photo by Andy Taylor.

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