the real fa cup

Lamma Time

Staines Lammas 3-2 Bedfont Sports
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round 15 August 2014

Decisions, decisions.  I have to make plenty of them, both at work and elsewhere, and I am not convinced that my random ones are any better or worse than my considered ones.  At 4pm on Friday 15 August 2014, I decided that I had done enough with the old cerebellum for one day and that I should head for one of the first FA Cup ties of the new season.

FA CUP PERFORMANCE HISTORY – STAINES LAMMAS FC
Formed: 1926
Nickname: Lammas
Seasons: 4
First: 2011-12
Last: 2014-15
Best: 1st Qualifying Rnd 2011-12 Chesham United 3–2 Staines Lammas

Copyright Annets Enterprises Ltd 2014

Realistically, I couldn’t get too far in the time available so Staines Lammas leapt off the page as a potential new ground.  A check of the website seemed to confirm the venue as the Lucan Recreation Ground in Laleham, which would become ground 540 on my lifetime list.  Thus, even though local radio was warning of drivers potentially dying of starvation and old age due to considerable delays around Heathrow, I joined the M25 with a song in my heart (and Goon Shows Volume 29 in the CD player since you ask) and in the fullness of time … pulled up into the suspiciously empty car park at the Lucan Pavilion.

The name Lucan is synonymous with unexplained disappearance.  I walked around the building fully expecting to find Reginald Perrin feeding sugar lumps to Shergar, and there were certainly no signs of goalposts, even moving ones.  A helpful local expressed sympathy, asked me whether I was looking for a football match, and imparted the dreadful news that I needed to be at Ashford, just like the others who had been here earlier.  Yes, Ashford Town (Mdx), ground 232 on my list where I had already seen a 3-3 draw with Wealdstone as the second leg of a Boxing Day double hop in 2009. This would mess up my spreadsheet and means my groundsharer list is out-of-date.  Dammit.

I shared the news with another new carpark arrival in the same predicament, took consolation in the fact that I was not the first or last, and weighed up my alternative options for the evening.  You see, in my own particular groundsharer rules of engagement, I go for Landlords rather than Tenants.  However, when #1 on the aforementioned options list was planespotting (I am so not ready for that) I decided to head for Short Lane after all.  I’m glad I did, because I witnessed a slow-burning cracker.

It’s not a pretty ground, and it needs some TLC (that’s tender loving care, not thin layer chromatography, for my scientific followers).  It sits adjacent to a zillion gallons of highly combustible hydrocarbons in big white silos.  There is a constant background noise of aircraft and parakeets.  Yes, parakeets.  Thousands of feral green ones that according to urban legend have multiplied very effectively in the Thames Valley since they escaped from a container at Heathrow.  There’s no evidence for this, but it’s a nice idea.  It also gives rise to a joke along the lines of, “Question: Why can’t you get aspirin tablets in the Thames Valley?  Answer: Because parrots eat ‘em all.”  But I digress.

I was mulling all this over during an earnest but undistinguished first half.  I’d seen Bedfont Sports in their opening-day league loss at Spelthorne a fortnight ago.  They lost rather unluckily and seemed to be a side fit enough to finish a game strongly.  Lammas had lost both of their games so far, in the division below.  This means nothing in the FA Cup (I should have known that) and this first half was pretty even.  The best chance was a screamer from a Lammas fullback that pinged off the angle of post and bar from about thirty metres.  At this point it was a game with 0-0 written all over it, which was not improving my grumpiness levels.  At a push, I thought Bedfont the more likely to go on and win it, and had even pencilled in a “Staines Remover” headline for the blogpost.  I know nothing about football.

The second half was much more entertaining for the passing neutrals.  A quarter of an hour into the second half, the Lammas’ keeper (in purple, for the records) made a fantastic save from a piledriver shot that even drew applause from visiting management.  Then the home side took the lead from the penalty spot after 65 minutes.  Ben Reed coolly rolled the ball into the lower left corner after a trip on a colleague.  A clear penalty and not too many complaints.  Bedfont were stung into action and it took them only eight minutes to equalise.  Adam Roberts took a dipping cross from the right on the volley for a good finish.  With only eight minutes left Bedfont wasted a set piece as the Lammas’ defensive wall did its job from a direct freekick, and the ball bounced away for a corner.  However, Joe Jackson headed that in.  Who knows how and why Lammas were allowed back from that.

In the 90th minute, a hopeful last-chance freekick was launched into the six-yard box.  Bedfont’s keeper, dressed in the colour I have christened radioactive bile in my tracking of these matters, called for the ball but will have to hold up his gloved hand in responsibility for this one.  He inexplicably let the ball drop behind him and presented a tap-in to Craig Martin.  2-2 and most of us were shuffling towards the car park – no-one would have really complained about justice and fairness if nothing else had happened and we had a replay in the diary.

Ben Jacob had other ideas.  In the fourth minute of added time, his shot from about twenty metres, maybe with a slight deflection, found the net.  3-2 and a famous home win, technically a giant-killing I suppose, and another game where Bedfont players and management will be engaged in head-scratching.  How did that happen?  I changed my working title to Lamma Time.

A fabulous and dramatic ending to the game.  All that business with the Lucan ground is forgiven.  A home tie against Barton Rovers of Step 4 awaits.  If you are going, check the date as Ashford Town potentially have a home tie of their own on the same weekend.  Happy Hopping!

Words & Pictures Graham Yapp
See more hopping action and how he chose this game at Graham’s Blog

1 Comment
  1. Good old Ashford Town (Middx), the ground where I was left speechless few years back when on a visit, some friendly locals probed me on what brought me there. I said, ‘Interest in grassroots football’. To this they said, ‘Which age group?’.

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