Binfield 3-2 Flackwell Heath
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round 2013/14
My first visit to Hill Farm Lane was a life-affirmingly eccentric experience. The players descended from what wasn’t far from a mountain top to the pitch, with the line-ups scribbled on a tablet and pinned to the clubhouse wall for the mortal punters to gawp at. The sides performed an awkward lining up and hand shaking ritual on the edge of the penalty area rather than in the centre of the pitch, which was weird, somehow. Then there was the goal music. Oh, the goal music. At an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round match. We’ll come back to this subject later.
Aside from Swanage Town & Herston FC’s effort, this programme was the best I’ve seen at this level of football by a country mile. As The Wycombe Wanderer points out in his post about the game, it was also put together at extremely short notice. Well done to the team behind this informative, interesting and well-presented read.
A short while before the players abseiled down from the changing rooms, the evening had got off to an odd sort of beginning. This game was played on a Monday night and I’d only spotted it listed on the internet at lunchtime, so I just rocked up straight from work. I received a few funny glances as I entered the clubhouse and asking the barman where the toilets were received a sarcastic, almost arsey response – ‘yeah, they’re over there, we do have ’em, funny little club innit, mate’.
As I trudged away, not knowing what I’d done wrong, it suddenly dawned on me what a fool I’d been. It was only a very light pink, but nonetheless, I’d rocked up to the football in a pink shirt, and the Binfield massive weren’t in the slightest bit happy about it. Maybe at The Emirates stadium you’d be slapped on the back for sporting such an on-trend piece of cloth and upgraded to a seat next to Louis Vuitton and George from Asda, but turning up to a Hellenic League ground dressed like that was not a good move. I quickly went back to my mate’s car to fetch my coat and nothing more was said on the matter. We all moved on.
The Hill Farm Lane DJ made an inspired song choice before kick off, as The Seekers’ We Shall Not Be Moved provided a nice nod to the chants traditionally sung by supporters swept along by the wave of optimism a decent cup run can bring.
The game itself was a real hum-dinger, with Adam Dickens giving Flackwell Heath the lead within ten minutes of kick-off, only for Dan Rapley to stab the Moles side level shortly afterwards. Along with being forced to swap terraces for padded seats, bans on alcohol and the emergence of half & half scarves, goal music is one of the main targets for scepticism among football purists. Seeing Reading fans dancing along to a recorded track every time their team scored nearly made me head for the exit in their 4-0 FA Cup Fourth Round win over Sheffield United last season.
So it was to my initial horror that the Mission Impossible theme tune was played when they drew level. But actually, it was so ridiculous that I found it hilarious. Binfield headed into the break 3-1 up, with Joel Havermans and Carl Davies’ goals marked by ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ and Tom Jones singing ‘It’s not Unusual’. Maybe if you watched them play every week, this could start to grate but, for one evening at least, goal music added to my matchday experience. *Cringes* Sorry, everyone, I’ve let you all down!
Scoring their third just before half time made it pretty inevitable that Binfield would be on cruise control in the second half, while the visitors grew in confidence throughout the period as they knew they had nothing to lose. Several decent chances were spurned before Adam Dickens smashed a 25-yard free kick as hard as he could past a shell-shocked keeper and into the net. It was a fantastic goal, well worth the entry money alone.
With 20 minutes left to play, Flackwell were right back in it and the game started to really open up as they pushed forward. The hosts responded with half-hearted attacks of their own. But when the visitors’ captain Jeff Brown was dismissed for a second yellow card following a scuffle, you knew it wasn’t quite going to happen. I thought ‘I’m pretty sure this isn’t allowed’ as Brown jumped over the railings and stood behind the goal – still in his shirt – then tried in vain to cheer his team-mates on to a late equaliser.
Flackwell Heath put up a decent fight in the second half but it was the Moles who progressed through to the next round. As the final whistle blew, nobody could say they hadn’t got their fiver’s worth of action. So long as you don’t wear pink, I’m sure Binfield would be delighted to welcome some The Real FA Cup readers along to Hill Farm Lane.
Words & Pictures: Andy Lloyd-Williams
Andy is a lapsed AFC Bournemouth fan, who’s recently returned to his non-league roots. A seasoned writer who is forging a career in PR, Andy wrote Robin van Persie’s biography, published by John Blake and available from Amazon.