the real fa cup

Extra, Extra, Preliminaread All About It!

Once you’ve recovered from trying to say that headline out loud …

It’s Friday, it’s 7:45 o’clock, it’s FA Cup CRACKERJACK!  One for the kids there. It’s back, we’re back, another 5 months of us trying to convince the world that the early rounds of the FA Cup are well worth a watch, before the mainstreamers take up the mantle on third round day.

This year is the FA’s 150th year, the football league’s 125th year and therealfacup’s 5th year. If you take the second two numbers from the first number you get 20 and, by lucky coincidence, this is how many FA Cup’s we have won between us! Yay!

I myself won my first FA Cup (World Cup Willie) at the age of 11 with a makeshift Ipswich Town side consisting largely of Russell Osman (me) at the back, a midfield of Thijssen (me), Muhren (me), Johnny Wark (me) and Glenn Hoddle (me), signed on loan from Spurs, and a robust forward line made up entirely of Paul Mariner (me). The venue was Hellesdon Rec and the opposition was Liverpool (Michael), Leeds Utd (my brother) and (probably) Norwich (Gary). I also managed to combine playing with commentary, with Jonathan Pearce-esque volume and enthusiasm.

In reality, of course, I never played in the FA Cup, but we all dreamed of it, (re)enacted it, heard the roar of the crowd in our ears and lifted the tinfoil cup. Some lucky buggers in non league football actually get to play in it and they bloody love it, still, even though they are as likely to lift the old jug as I was in 1983.

Back in those days it would have been unheard of to play FA Cup football at 7:45pm on a Friday in August, unless yer mum had allowed you out after tea time because it was sunny. But that’s what’s happening this weekend at no fewer than nine football grounds across England and they are ALL, EXCLUSIVELY, derby matches. We’re off to North London (boooo!) to watch Enfield 1893, who we have seen before at no fewer than three different grounds but never at ‘home’, play London Tigers, grrrr, in the “Nomadic Derby”.

If you’re at a loose end on Friday evening in the South (West-ish) you could nip off after work and watch Christchurch v Sherborne (not really a derby) or the “Winchester Derby”, Alresford Town v Winchester City.  If you’re somewhere between Norwich and Ipswich you could be watching the “Somewhere Between Norwich & Ipswich Derby”, Thetford v Diss. If you’re somewhere between the M4 & M40 you could go to the “Awkward To Easily Get Between The Two Motorways Derby” at Flackwell Heath (M40), where they entertain Binfield (M4).

If you’re (much) further North you could opt for the “How Come We’re Playing Them, It’s Miles Away Derby” between Bishop Auckland and Tadcaster Albion. And if going to derbies that are actually not very close is your thing then you’ll be MAD for Worksop Parramore v AFC Blackpool in the “Scottish Derby”, so called because it is easier for both sets of fans to get to Scotland than it is to get to each others’ ground.

If you’re feeling even more adventurous then the game for you is the “Where? Derby” between Hoddesdon and St Margaretsbury. It is called the “Where Derby” because neither side are playing at home. This game is being held at where? No, it’s at Ware. Where? Ware! Oh Thare!

Finally, there is Hadley v Oxhey Jets, which is THE hipster game to go to because The Jets are actually responsible for creating the hipster wardrobe as far back as 1985.

If all that simply isn’t enough, here’s our preview of Clapton v Stanway Rovers and @AudaciousChip‘s preview of Barton Town Old Boys v Nostell Miners’ Welfare.

Phew! All that is going on and don’t even get us started on Saturday and Sunday, here’s the fixtures. Or use our handy fixture map if you like that sort of thing.

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Non League Day
Bobby Robson Foundation