By David Barber
Warlingham, the Combined Counties League Division One club who share Whyteleafe’s ground in east Surrey, were founded 116 years ago but still haven’t managed to win an FA Cup match.
But it’s not as bad as it sounds. ‘The Wars’ have spent most of their long history in Intermediate football, were promoted into a Step 6 division in 2004 and entered The Cup for the first time last season. They came in at the Preliminary Round stage and lost their debut match to the only goal at Tunbridge Wells.
This season they were drawn away to Chessington & Hook United in the Extra Preliminary Round, a club which had narrowly avoided demotion from the Combined Counties League’s Premier Division, i.e. the division above Warlingham. It finished 2-2 at Chalky Lane on Saturday and a crowd of 82 assembled on another balmy summer evening at Church Road for last night’s replay.
‘Chessey’, in all blue, were quickly into their stride and could have opened their account in the second minute, their bustling No.7 shooting against the outside of a post with only the ‘keeper to beat. Warlingham, wearing black and white striped shirts and white shorts, found their attacking intentions frustrated at every turn and they were 0-2 down at the break.
Six minutes into the second half they were looking down the barrel of another early Cup exit when the visitors added a third. But this tie wasn’t over yet.
Warlingham scored two quick goals, one a salmon-like header by a striker known as ‘Smash’, and we were all going mad in the stand behind the goal. With the momentum with them now, surely they would go on to grab a leveller. They threw everyone forward, even the ‘keeper near the end, but couldn’t manage another goal. We left the ground, drained of emotion.
Chessington, who started life in the Kingston & District League’s Division Four in the 1920s, earned themselves a trip to the South Coast in the Preliminary Round on 25 August. Eastbourne Town await at The Saffrons.