the real fa cup


Wembley FC 2 Basildon Utd 3.

Well, here we are then. A perfectly reasonable summer lunchtime sees us head away from South London, heavily armed with shades, camera, phone, note book and pen.


Tooled up for our raid on Norf West Lahndan we head for Lords for the smack of leather on willow, cucumber sandwiches, a flask of tea and maybe a nip of gin. Oh, no, hang on, that isn’t linseed oil, it’s deep heat, the football season has started and excitement is in the air! Except it really isn’t. After the build up of the last few weeks, today seems somewhat subdued. There are no crowds at Sudbury Town tube, even the Swan has precious few punters watching the 2nd half of Chelsea .v. Hull. It’s summer and it’s warm and people are out doing summery things.

We, however, are off to Vale Farm for the FA Cup.

Our journey passed slowly but uneventfully. Our entry to the ground was pedestrian and unremarkable, the programmes were sold out. The game was quite good and the players were really up for it. Everything else seemed quite calm, there was a sparseness to the crowd that added to the feeling that the season hadn’t quite started. We don’t yet know the attendance but it couldn’t have been quite in three figures. A LOT less than when we were here for Hendon .v. AFC Telford last season.


Obligatory ‘in the shadow of the Wembley Arch’ out of the way, I’m afraid the beautiful symmetry of Wembley FC getting to Wembley will have to wait another year. At least. Wembley’s stay did at least last longer than our good camera, the batteries for which expired while trying to photo the team sheet. The Wembley side of the sheet lacked the injured Andy Walker, shame as we’d hoped to get some photos of this elusive centre back. Bit of a blow for Wembley.

The first 10-15 minutes of the game passed with phone camera poised but unused. It was a tense, scrappy opening, with neither team looking either composed or convincing. Basildon did though look like a collection of players who actually knew each other. Wembley were a little ragged. The first memorable action came on about 15 when a voice from the Basildon dugout gave a curt reminder to his charges that the game is not a complicated animal. “Simple it up” was the shout and it was met by a monumental hoof up the pitch. “That was pretty simple” said one wag a few feet along the touchline.

That did, however, serve to focus the mind. Basildon started to have some possession and within five minutes should have been one up. A period of possession around the Wembley box resulted in a goalmouth scramble. The ball was half cleared but an angled Basildon drive towards the bottom corner struck the unfortunate Bee Ollie Baker and was cleared to safety by the grateful Wembley defence. That was unlucky, should have been 1 zip.

Basildon regained possession and were building up a head of steam. A sweet cross field pass to Paul Richardson set him free down the right, he beat his man but couldn’t get a clean cross in and won a corner. The corner was perfect, arrowed in to the penalty spot where Martyn Guest leapt like the most salmony of salmon and hung like the buzziest of Bees, smashing a header onto the bar. Not for the last time in the game Cassells in the Wembley goal didn’t quite get enough of the ball and Luke Bauckman forced it in the rebound. 0-1 Basildon.


Basildon were now purposeful and accurate, playing good balls to feet with efficient off the ball movement. Wembley had resorted to hopeful out balls and were under pressure.

Benkalba broke in a rare Wembley attack but was hauled down by Guest, a blot on an otherwise impressive start from therealfacup’s premiere interviewee. The resultant free kick was somewhat wasted. Guesty then got involved in some handbags with Paul Shelton and it probably deserved a card a piece. The ref had other ideas and, as he’d dealt well with the few potential flashpoints of the game with a talking to, so he did here.

Of course, then Wembley’s Black took out Basildon’s Baker and got himself a yellow. Wembley had now completely lost discipline and some more handbags preceded a Basildon attack that was ended by some shirt tugging on the edge of the box. Wembley’s Habbaz paid for getting shirty with his name. Guest went for goal direct from the free kick but didn’t test the keeper, although the defence was all over the place.

Basildon are now well on top and a lovely chip from the lively Rick Robinson slips narrowly past the post. After 38 minutes Wembley buckled, Baker crossed and Bauckman steered a sturdy header past the wobbly Cassell in Wembley’s goal.

As Wembley desperately tried to regain a hold on the game the obviously talented but possession-starved Campbell-Grimshaw switched wings. We have no idea how but almost immediately Wembley were in the Basildon box. The lime green-booted Ankram shot straight at the keeper but the ball fell at his feet and one miscued shot past the floored Palmer later, Wembley are back in the game. I’d like to hyphenate some more words here but I’ve run out. Wembley 1 Basildon 2. 38 minutes.

From absolutely nothing, Wembley now had a way back. It’s now Basildon’s turn to get nervy. They don’t need to and Poole sees this, vociferously calling his comrades together. “Do more” is the slightly obvious but economical shout from the Basildon bench. Nervously but with no real scrapes, Basildon made it to half time 2-1 up.

The Vale bar was not as welcoming as on our last visit, it wasn’t open from the pitch so you had to go out of the ground and round the front of the club. We decided against the walk and opted for the perfectly acceptable burger and chips. What is this lunacy, no half time beer? Ah well, £2.25, bargain. Half time was only remarkable for the relentless bothering our burgers received at the wings of wasps and the octagenarian occupants of the food hut diligently but slowly preparing our feast.

Basildon had the best of the first 10 minutes of the second half and effectively killed the game on about 53 minutes. Some nice work down the left was turned dangerous when Robinson picked the ball up just inside the box near the touchline. He flicked the ball across beautifully, just too deep for the keeper to come for it and Richardson was the player gambling and forcing the ball over the line. Wembley 1 Basildon 3.

Wembley’s first real effort to get back in the game took until about 60 minutes and came from a corner. The largely ineffectual Bates for once lost his man at a corner but, despite being well set, fired his header well wide.

A bit of a midfield tussle saw the ref blow the whistle but the action continued. The ref blew again. And again to halt the play. Seeing the players failing to halt, a young lady walking behind us shouted “Didn’t you hear the bell!?” We looked at each other, confused as she added “I mean the whistle”.

After about 67 minutes Wembley decided it was time for subs. Two. Within a minute one of them, Jerome Walker, was booked. With fresh instruction to go “3 up top” Wembley enlivened themselves and it started go from end to end but with no clear chances. Basildon followed suit with their own substitute to combat this and some more handbags ensued between Wembley’s Shelton and Basildon’s Merchant.

The way I’ve described the handbags makes it sound a dirty game but really it wasn’t, it was just eagerly contested by two teams who wanted to win. It was a little niggly but there was little of any malevolence.


One of the more notable fluctuations in play was a nice move down Wembley’s right between Benkalba and Hale but the cross, although good, saw no forwards bursting into the box. There was about 15 minutes to go and Simon noted that it must be pretty depressing to go out of the FA Cup on the 15th August. Fair point.

At the other end Richardson blasted over after being played in and sub Wackett was denied by a last ditch tackle after brilliantly and powerfully beating several defenders. Another Basildon foray into the Wembley box saw Hale slice a clearance for a corner. A very audible “Fuck” from the culpable defender summed up Wembley’s afternoon. They should at least have been a good match for Basildon but they really hadn’t turned up today.

With about 5 minutes to go Wembley threw themselves a very tenuous lifeline. Again from nothing Walker found himself about 25 yards out and rifled a shot far to the keeper’s right. Probably the goal of the game but it was still Wembley 2 Basildon 3.

Wembley now had a fairly unlikely chance of getting something out of the tie. The next 8 or 9 minutes passed with a minor head injury, some time wasting, a Wembley cross and a final rallying cry from Guest for Basildon to see out the remaining time. In the middle of all that several Wembley players emplored the ref to stop the clock for the injury and the manager finally found his voice to try to stir his team into action.

Final score Wembley 2 Basildon 3.
MOM: Paul Richardson – Basildon Utd

So, five goals, a couple of very good ones, a good ref and the right result. The pick of the players were all from Basildon, although Manuva and Walker looked dangerous after they came on for Wembley. Guest and Poole marshalled the side superbly, Robinson gave a lot up front without getting much in return and Bauckman came up with 2 goals. However, the stand out player for us was Paul Richardson, scorer of the 3rd goal. He passed well, made himself available, arrived late in the box from midfield and was involved in a number of Basildon’s best moves.

However, despite the goals and it being a watchable game, it was slightly flat on the touchline. When we came to vale Farm before, it was rocking, today it was quiet. Maybe it was just start of the season blues, maybe people were watching Jeff Stelling. Either way, the FA Cup is underway.

  1. So no Wembley for me then!! Looking forward to the next game 🙂

  2. official attendance was 69 bees off to erith town next.

  3. Damon Threadgold

    We’ll wait for the replays and then select some more games for the next round vote.

    And cheers, Richard, we thought it might be a bit more than that but it was a little disappointing. 189 at Broxbourne!

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