Well here’s a thing … it’s not uncommon for us to go and watch teams we’ve seen before. Even though we don’t often go to grounds twice and factoring in the sheer volume of teams that enter the FA Cup from the off, because we largely trawl the south east clubs we still occasionally bump into teams we’ve seen before.
However, it’s far more unusual for us to go to a tie featuring two clubs we’ve seen before. Admittedly, this one is slightly out of necessity but, once Dorking Wanderers had sadly fallen, this was the tie we both wanted and had to go to.
Wingate & Finchley v Havant & Waterlooville
FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round, Saturday 11 October 2014/15, 3pm
Wingate & Finchley have been in Dulwich Hamlet’s division on a couple of occasions so it’s not surprising they’re a familiar face. We’ve seen them play Dulwich a few times, we’ve seen them beat Dulwich in the Ryman Cup Final (in the great panini scandal of 2011), we’ve seen them (ultimately) win a play off semi-final against the wonderful Harlow and we saw them draw an FA Cup game back in the early days of this website. It has to be said that on none of these occasions have we been rooting for W&F but that is, probably, about to change.
Havant & Waterlooville are less familiar, though are notable to us/me for two reasons, but have previously appeared in these pages. Back in 2008 the Hawks were the first side we saw inflict what is commonly known as an ‘FA Cup upset’, so hold a special place in our heart – and the fans were good value too. It wasn’t a big shock, particularly at the time (the same fixture and result now would be a huge shock), but it was a surprise nonetheless and the manner of it even more impressive.
Crawley Town were at stage one of their bid for professional, proper, league football and at the top of the Conference, the Hawks were in the Conference South doing some hubbling and bubbling around the lower reaches of mid-table, though the year before had got sufficiently far in the FA Cup that they actually got on the telly, against Liverpool (remember that, eh, Richard Pacquette puts the Hawks in front at Anfield!).
On the day, however, “Havant’ville” were glorious and notched up our first shock with a 3-0 away win. The best bit, however, was reserved for half time. With the game poised at nil/nil and with strikers intent on some much-needed HT shooting practice, we were outside the ground seeking refreshment and a ball looped over the stand. This is the only time I have kicked a ball over a stand and into a football stadium. It’s not much of an anecdote but the execution, my I wish there was video …
This one’s the other way round. Havant, definite overdogs, are flying in the Conference South while Wingate, though enjoying a rare foray into the lofty heights of 6th place in their own league, are one tier lower in the Ryman Premier League. This probably isn’t your go-to upset of the round, Havant are just doing too well, but WinFinch can’t be discounted and we’re rubbing our hands for a nice symmetrical cup shock to book-end our two sights of Havant.
In the 16 years since Havant merged with Waterlooville they’ve more often than not got past this round and ery frequently got into the propers and beyond. The aforementioned game against Liverpool was a 5-2 4th Round defeat after they’d disposed of Swansea, Notts County and York. The pre-merger Waterlooville were no slouches in the cup either, making the 1st Round on several occasions.
This 3rd Qualifying Round game though marks a watershed for the merged Wingate & Finchley, this is the furthest they’ve been as a unit. The Finchley half of the combo fared much better, though in times more dim and distant in another footballing dimension, before not only the Premier League but also before even Division 4 existed. Their best effort was in 1952/3 when they beat Kidderminster and Crystal Palace en route to a 3rd Round tie with Shrewsbury that they lost 2-0 at Gay Meadow.
Wingate & Finchley – Havant & Waterlooville FA Cup Record
Given the four merged teams have been in the FA Cup’s 2nd Qualifying Round draw on 80 occasions, it’s a bit of a surprise they’ve never met before, in any of their guises.
So, no one knows nobody else and that. Though there are a few familiaar faces the Wingate team might want to swap shirts with. The Havant squad could, potentially, have no fewer than FOUR (ex) international footballers in it.
- Pele! No, not that one, the one who played for WBA a few seasons back, million pound footballer no less. He’s Havant’s coach and unlikely to feature … but, who knows, he has played this season – and we all remember what happened when Mauricio Taricco came out of retirement for the FA Cup!?
- Brian Stock, bloody decent Championship player with Doncaster Rovers. At Burnley last season, they didn’t offer him a new contract but what the actual ‘f’ he’s doing dropping from the Championship to Conference South at 32 I have no idea.
- Bradley Bubb … who? You know who! Well, we know who, seen him play for Farnborough, among others, in the past.
- Warren Cummings, 1 game for Scotland, which was one more than he played for Chelsea before they let him go to Bournemouth.
Illustrious … it’s a shame Montserrat’s Dean Mason has left WinFinch else there could have been five on this pitch!
And, of course, it’s always good to catch sight of the magnificent art-deco features of the Harry Abrahams stadium glinting in the early autumn sunshine – please let it be nice, that walk from the tube station is not short.