The superfan enjoyed another ‘Cuptastic’ weekend.
The weather was bad in lots of places on Saturday. (I would say ‘atrocious’ but I can’t spell it.) The FA Cup Preliminary Round suffered four postponements and three abandonments. On the League highlights show in the evening, I saw the players taken off at Aldershot in torrential rain and the Wycombe game ended early after a lightning strike.
I went to the Redhill v Corinthian-Casuals Cup tie at Kiln Brow and, though we heard thunder rumbling in the distance, there wasn’t any rain until a few moments after the final whistle. It lashed down all the way to Earlswood station but fortunately Mum had lent me an umbrella, albeit a small one. Redhill, enjoying a decent start to their Sussex County League season, were a top Athenian League side when I watched them regularly at the Memorial Sports Ground in the ‘60s. They were on a par with teams like Dagenham, Bishop’s Stortford, Slough and Leatherhead.
Les Smith was their secretary in those days and is now president. His association with the club has lasted an incredible 62 years and of course he was there on Saturday. It was a special day in Redhill FC’s history as FA chairman David Bernstein also attended the match.
The Reds have only reached the FA Cup First Round Proper on one occasion, losing 6-1 at Norwich in 1957. (Yes, Les was there at Carrow Road.) Opponents Corinthian-Casuals, who made their last appearance at that stage in 1983 when Bristol City beat them in a replay, once featured in a Wembley Final watched by 80,000. It was the Casuals, a level above Redhill in the Isthmian Division One South, who put together some promising attacks in a first half played in warm sunshine. But two minutes from the break the home side took the lead with a firm header from a corner.
A modest crowd of 121 saw the Reds net two more goals near the end to earn a home tie in the First Round Qualifying against Lewes on 8 September. It’s great to see them doing so well now. When I was a fan, I saw them win the Surrey Senior Cup, the Athenian League Cup twice, and beat Crystal Palace 2-1 in a friendly!
On Sunday afternoon, I took in another intriguing FA Cup tie involving Wembley FC. With Claudio Caniggia, the former Argentine international, and Ugo Ehiogu, capped four times for England, in their starting line-up, Wembley rode their luck in the first half to lead Uxbridge 2-0 before 754 fans and the ESPN cameras.
In a scintillating second period Uxbridge fought back to equalise and both sides had chances to settle it right up to the last few seconds of stoppage time. This was a Cup classic and I personally can’t wait for tomorrow night’s replay at Vale Farm.
Two more games on Bank Holiday Monday – Banstead Athletic v Worcester Park in the Combined Counties League (2-1) and Whyteleafe v Holmesdale in the Kent League (3-1) – have brought me up to 20 for the season and 6,315 altogether.