Sometimes it takes a bit of imagination to make a game come to life. If you close your eyes at Capershotts, the home of Waltham Abbey, the constant hum of the nearby M25 could just be the roar of a baying crowd of football fans. Instead, the 87 in attendance today (plus one man, visible only from the chin up, who’s peeking over a fence seemingly with the aid of a ladder) make a polite noise as these two teams, separated by one league tier (Waltham Abbey in the higher tier), tussle for FA Cup progression.
The game starts, after a vaguely deflating introduction from the match announcer, with plenty of passion and little skill. Abbey race into a two-goal lead. Cockfosters’ defence caught sleeping, at first by a free kick and then by a ball over the top. A couple of rugged challenges, one apiece for Abbey’s Jason Hallett and Cockfosters’ Craig McKay, set the scene for an intriguing battle. Certainly Hallett likes to be noticed, if not always by his jinking skills, then by his whining battle cries. Warhorse McKay gives the impression he’s seen it all before and won’t stand for it. Once settled, Cockfosters feel their way back into the game, scoring after a parry by Abbey’s keeper James May is followed up by Mark Blackburne.
2-1 at the break and a trip to the clubhouse means a trudge across the gravel of the car park. Somehow the glamour of the cup – the specially tailored suits, the shiny cup, the champagne and the glory – seems a long way away. In the clubhouse, there’s a 40% chance you’ll get bacon in your meal if you want hot food. The bar sports a grey plastic bucket with an article about the team taped to it. Reality hits home.
The second half begins with gusto. But again Cockfosters shoot themselves in the foot, giving away an early penalty, dispatched by John Docket. The game’s effectively sealed when Darelle Russell plays a searching ball to an unmarked Hallett, who scores. The last 10 minutes sees both teams relax just a bit too much and the goals flow. Cockfosters reply through a Kirby own goal before Hallett seals his hat-trick for Abbey from the spot. Russell caps an impressive second half substitute appearance furthering their lead before Cockfosters’ Adam Haley rounds things off to leave the game at 6-3 to Abbey. As we cross the car park on the way out, it becomes clear; with nine goals and end to end action, who needs imagination?