I went to Luton on Saturday to keep up a record of seeing at least one tie in every round of this season’s FA Cup. Some of the signs at St. Pancras International were confusing and I nearly got on a train to Belgium.
It was my 17th FA Cup match of the season and 421st in total. I’m sure there are people who’ve seen more. It was only my third visit to Kenilworth Road; the other two being for an England v Spain U18 international in 1971 and the Hatters’ FA Trophy First Round tie against Welling two years ago.
It’s a 20-minute walk from the station to the ground, with flyovers and underpasses all the way until you get to Dunstable Road. It cost £15 to sit in ‘Block B’ of the Main Stand and there was plenty of room. The best part of the match was the last 20 minutes or so, when Dorchester finally put some decent attacks together. Luton, worthy 2-1 winners, are now at home to Wolves.
With the temperature close to zero, I didn’t want to spend the whole of Sunday standing out in the cold. In the morning I took a train from Waterloo to Barnes Bridge, via the usual ‘One fool!’ breakfast in Baker Street, and walked along The Terrace in blinding sunshine to Ebenezer Morley’s old house.
Still an unfamiliar name to most, you could call Morley ‘The Father of The FA’ or ‘The Father of Football’. On his initiative the first FA meeting was held at the Freemasons' Tavern in central London on 26 October 1863; he officially proposed its formation; he drafted football’s first rules at his Thames-side home. He is the man who set football on its long track around the world.
I had another wander along Limes Field Road too, which is about 200 yards away. The first match under FA rules, Barnes v Richmond, was played at Limes Field on 19 December 1863 and finished goalless. The Field, alas, is long gone. It had housing built on it more than a century ago. We’re going to have a special 150th anniversary match on that very day next year, weather permitting.
Yesterday afternoon’s entertainment was 19 tube stops from Waterloo, changing at Embankment and Earl’s Court. Hatton Cross on the Piccadilly line is literally over the road from Heathrow, so it’s a pretty noisy place and the ‘planes come over so low that you can see the whites of the pilots’ eyes. Ten minutes’ walk away Bedfont Sunday were playing Manor House (from Dagenham) in the Second Round of The FA Sunday Cup.
Bedfont were Finalists in 1993 but haven’t done much in the competition since then. Admission yesterday was a very reasonable £2, a proper programme included, and a crowd of 34 saw five goals, a missed penalty, one red card and (I think) six yellows. Bedfont’s third goal in their 4-1 win was both controversial and comical. A Manor House defender tried to head the ball clear when it was actually on the goal-line. Dangerous, surely.
Games this season = 86
Games in total = 6,381
The Barber will be back next week with his latest tale from this travels. If you'd like to contact him, or suggest a game he should go to, follow @thebarberfan on Twitter