The superfan attended his 40th FA Cup Final.
Nine games in the last nine days, including two Semi-Finals and two Finals, have brought me up to 224 for the season and 6,275 altogether.
The results, with attendances in brackets, were: Visa 2-3 Chippenham (1), Dulwich Hamlet 2-1 Folkestone Invicta (632), Paddington Rangers 1-2 London FC (7), First Capital Connect 1-0 Unity (8), Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool (89,102), Welling United 0-0 Sutton United (1,408), AFC Hornchurch 2-1 Lowestoft Town aet (1,411), Victoria Line 2-5 Central Line (2) and BNP Paribas 2-0 Gladstone Park Rangers (7).
My guest at The FA Cup Final, my 40th, was a friend from my university days in Liverpool. He decided to stay in the city after graduating, got married, had four kids, and is now a vicar. When we were students, we watched games at Liverpool (i.e. Anfield), Tranmere Rovers and South Liverpool. There’s no temptation at all on my part to say the The Final is ‘just another game’. There’s nothing in the world like it and it’s always a privilege to be present.
On Sunday I set off for the Conference South Play-Off Semi-Final second leg between Welling and Sutton. Welling had won the first leg 2-1 at Gander Green Lane. Arriving at Charing Cross I found notices to say that a boat had crashed into the railway bridge and consequently there were no trains in or out. I took two tubes to London Bridge, hoping for something more positive there, but all services were delayed because the trains and the train crews were in different places.
It was nearly 2pm and the prospects of getting to Welling in time for the kick-off looked bleak. But soon a relevant train did rumble into Platform 4 and a mass of people, including a few frustrated Sutton fans, piled on. I did see the start – and bought the last programme too!
Bank Holiday Monday’s game was the Isthmian League Premier Division Play-Off Final featuring AFC Hornchurch and Lowestoft. They had finished level on 82 points, the ‘Urchins’ just ahead on goal difference. It was a journey of 25 tube stops, changing at Mile End and Barking, and I was in a good seat at the back at the stand by 2.15. It wasn’t a great 90 minutes but perked up a lot in extra time, the home side notching the winner a minute from the end.
AFC Hornchurch can now look forward to Conference South football next season.
I’ve never seen a bad game in the London Underground League and yesterday’s League Cup semi-final between the Victoria Line and the Central Line was another classic, watched by an estimated two spectators. Central, naturally in red, were 3-0 up at the break but ‘Vic Line’ – as they had on the back of their shirts – pulled two back. The second was a penalty, so hotly disputed that Central players were literally lining up to be booked for dissent.
The Reds added two late goals and by now the ground was a seething cauldron. Well, not quite.