There were 160 Preliminary Round ties in The FA Cup over the weekend and my two were Croydon v Whyteleafe on Saturday and Slough Town v Cirencester Town on Sunday. They finished 0-2 and 1-1 respectively and in both ties the opening goal was scored in the 55th minute.
I’ve been watching Croydon and Whyteleafe play since the early ‘60s but had never seen them play each other before Saturday.
There was a decent crowd for this East Surrey derby and they included a few that were going off to see Palace’s 5.30pm kick-off against Sunderland directly afterwards. The grounds are pretty close together, with Norwood Junction the station in between.
Precise football was very difficult on a bumpy pitch at Croydon Sports Arena and there weren’t many shots at goal in a first half played in warm sunshine.
I think all you can say is that both teams were trying hard to win, whether it was for the glory or the cash or both, but the scrappy play made it a tough watch. I believe some spectators left before the end but I won’t mention any names.
‘Leafe, who reached the First Round Proper in 1999 (I was there), scored twice in the second period and now entertain Horley Town in the next round on 14 September. After the match I made my way to a restaurant near Purley Oaks station where I was attending my sister’s 60th birthday dinner. When we were growing up she was always two years younger and bizarrely she still is.
Slough share with Beaconsfield SYCOB and my route to Holloways Park was a train from Marylebone to Beaconsfield, a 28-minute journey, and a walk of two and a half miles from the station.
I’m not very keen on heights – one of many things I’m not keen on, to be fair – and was slightly shocked to find that I’d have to cross a busy motorway on a very high, very narrow footbridge. And there was a crosswind.
Well, I must have made it because I’m writing this in the office. The match was something of a physical battle, with an opponent immediately in the face of the player with the ball.
I lost count of the number of times it was booted completely out of the ground. But it was still an intriguing contest, the Rebels taking the lead with a perfect lob from their No10 and the Centurions levelling a few minutes later. The visitors might have won it near the end.
A lot us were ‘Up for The Cup’ at the weekend. One colleague was at Stourport Swifts v AFC Wulfrunians and another saw Formby v Northwich. I’ve been to 434 FA Cup matches now and may take in a replay tomorrow.
Matches this season = 25
Matches in total = 6,490