the real fa cup

Soggy Moles Fall At The First

Despite the slightly odd suggestion that English football should be played in the summer to avoid waterlogged pitches and endless postponements, there is something quite wonderful about watching the game being played in the sun. Sitting in a beer garden before the game, the colours of the crowd, excellent playing surfaces – they all contribute to the sound of optimism in the voices of the fans which one only hears in August and September.

So it was with a tinge of soggy dejection that we left work early on Friday evening to see our first FA Cup game of the season just as the heavens opened and the rain began to fall at the end of a miserable, grey day.

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Mole Valley SCR were forced to leave their home in Fetcham last year and are currently sharing with Cobham FC whose ground – the marvellously named ‘Leg O Mutton Field’ – is barely 2 miles from Chelsea’s £20m state-of-the-art training complex across town but the rich and famous superstars who can often be seen flinging their 4x4s around the quiet country lanes in this particular part of suburbia were conspicuous by their absence as we supped a pint in The Running Mare on the way to the, errr, ‘field’. Maybe Abramovich’s overpaid ‘slaves’ were too busy collecting the gold that they’d discovered at the end of the rainbow that seemed to have one end firmly planted in John Terry’s back garden as we left the pub?

The majority of the crowd emerged from the understocked bar just before kick off to be faced with a downpour more commonly seen in the later rounds of the competition, in January or February than mid August and, with the seats which were under cover already full to bursting, we headed towards the shelter of some trees behind the MV goal for the bulk of the first half. But not before The Real FA Cup’s first touch of the season, your reporter scurrying between increasingly lake-like puddles to fetch the ball from behind the stand.

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This was to be Mole Valley’s first foray into the old competition and hopes were high after two 4-1 victories in early skirmishes in the Combined Counties League. Chertsey Town, however, had had some thumping early results of their own and were not about to let MVSCR have their day in the pouring, miserable rain as they controlled most of the play in the early stages, Dean Papali missing their best chance early on when his downward header bounced into the ground and over the bar.

After 17 minutes, Dan Martin brought Papali down on the edge of the area and Tom O’Regan stepped up to put the visitors 1-0 up from the spot. Martin was harshly sent off for the offence, the referee having seemingly listened carefully to the advice given to him by the Chertsey fans behind the goal that ‘he was the last man’ and ‘simply had to go’. Sadly for the newcomers, the decision ruined any chance they had of debut success and when their defence was caught short at the back just before the half-time whistle (just as we were similarly compromised after our earlier visit to the local hostelry!) the outlook was looking increasingly bleak as the man in charge once again pointed to the spot. O’Regan was the victim this time and, once again, made no mistake as he picked himself up out of the mud and put his side 2-0 up at the break.

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The rain had finally abated by half time but sustenance was badly needed so a return to the bar was required, a 10 minute queue wait culminating in being informed by the surly chefs that it would be “a while” before our burgers would be ready. The pair of George Foreman grills and the Morphy Richards deep fat fryer were doing overtime and neither the technology nor the staff, it would appear, could cope with the early season appetite for their greasy deliciousness.

So it was then that we returned to the second half action hungry, awaiting the delivery of our gourmet dinner.

The second half began in much the same vain as the first, but without the precipitation, and Chertsey increased their lead to 3 just before the hour when Papali’s shot deflected off substitute Liam Holden and looped over the Mole Valley keeper’s head and into the net behind him. Soon after, Papali scored his 2nd and Chertsey’s 4th after a great touch by his fellow striker which teed him up to rifle the ball home and seal the away side’s progress into the next round.

It’s always depressing to hear the captain of any side urging his players on to “keep their heads up” because “we know we’re beaten” with almost half an hour on the clock but it was fair comment. O’Regan wrapped things up with a 5th late on, but it could have been more.

By the time the final whistle had been blown, Mole Valley could have counted their goalscoring opportunities on the fingers of one finger and, in truth, deserved nothing from the game. Chertsey always had them where they wanted them and the sending off increased the size of the home side’s task to the realms of the impossible.

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The impossible was, however, achieved by the Cobham catering staff, delivering us a burger only 15 minutes into the 2nd half and some (admittedly very nice, freshly cooked) chips with 10 minutes left on the clock.

Chertsey will go on to play Chatham in two weeks time and the question on everyone’s lips on that day, as with every other FA Cup tie this season, will be whether anyone can stop Spurs from winning the trophy which they famously win every time the year ends in ‘1’.

We shall see.

Simon

1 Comment
  1. Simon, Damon,

    This was a particularly damp evening, and I expected the game to be much closer. Chertsey have started the season like a train; since this FA Cup tie they won 1-0 at home to Hanworth Villa and then won 5-0 away at Banstead, and are sitting pretty at the top of the league. Have fun with the FA Cup this season (hopefully no more wasps!) – I will be following your adventures. I’ll be at the Chertsey v Chatham game this Saturday, just hope this damn rain stops….

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