These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the National League South in a swanky new ground. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Up For The Cup

Published in the programme for the Slough v Oxford City FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round 10th September 2005

I love the FA Cup, especially these early rounds. I always hope Slough gets drawn away from home to some small club we have never played, the Rebel army turning up in a beautiful summers day, sipping beer at clubs like Needham Markets, Wootton Blue Cross, Odd Down. Going to places you'd never usually visit or have a clue where they are.

We all know about its magic from last season - and the heartache and what ifs. Some of our supporters best footballing memories are of our cup games; the amazing draw with Reading when we scored two goals in injury time will live with me for ever. Being 2-0 up at Orient at half time (they managed to level and beat us in the replay). I even think my first ever away match was at Carshalton in the cup. Other memories aren't so pleasant. Slough fans being attacked by hundreds of people at Yeovil Town, with our supporters spilling onto the pitch to escape while me and my school mates were protected by some older Yeovil fans. I remember vividly the roar when they scored the only goal near the end of the game, then drew Norwich in the third round.

The cup can also transform clubs. Lewes game with Stoke not only gave the club the cash to spend on their ground but brought to the attention of the public that that sleepy Sussex town actually had a football club. Dagenham and Redbridge's cup runs no doubt boasted crowds as well as coffers, and some of these supporters then stay. There always seems to be one real minnow that comes out of nowhere to grab some glory - last year it was Coleville Town, not so long ago it was Harrogate Railway Athletic, unfortunately at our expense.

While some of the bigger clubs are much more interested in the Champions League, for smaller teams it really is something special and I was very pleased to read that the FA's Chief Executive Brian Barwick was at the Extra Preliminary Round match between Sporting Bengal United and Ware "It's amazing to think that the long road to the Final starts here, in August, but that's a testament to how attractive the competition is to clubs at all levels in the game" he said. Ware won 2-0, and Barwick described his visit as the beautiful side of his job "I just felt it was really important that the chief executive of the Football Association should be at this game. I also think it is absolutely fundamental that I attend matches like this as well as the cup final in May. We are the Football Association with 37,000 clubs and half-a-million players to represent. My ambition is to go to as many rounds as possible. My seat for the final is probably already assured, but I want to go to the early rounds as well and get a true feel for the competition."

Already this seasons FA Cup has made some history for the number of kicks in a penalty shootout. 122 fans watched Tunbridge Wells beat Littlehampton Town 16-15 after 40 kicks! There were two penalties in normal time as well as the two sides battled to a 2-2 draw after extra time. The match lasted for 3 hours 10 minutes and finished at 10.55pm!

Fingers crossed for another magical cup run, starting here today.