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Vegetable oil

In many ways, it’s a shame that Cookeen 1 Lard 0 wasn’t a league match, as it would have been a damn good broadside against the rest of the RP. As it stands, getting into the next round of the FA Cup is always a good thing. Last year we were timid against Wailton and Hurtum, a game so awful we ended up walking out of the ground with brown bags over our heads, to hide our embarassment. This time round, the only thing I could really fault was somehow not getting at least one more.

I’ve waxed lyrical in the past that we can’t win the “big” games. And while this wasn’t a St Albans/Fisher playoff type affair, it was sure as hell the hardest draw we could have had. Is this an omen? Sooner or later, we’re going to have to knuckle down to get results in difficult games, if we want to win things that aren’t called the Surrey Senior Cup.

Even – or especially – last season, we probably would have lost this game. We would have played well, sure, but they would have gone ahead on 87 following a breakaway. But right now, things feel more solid. When Rosco D’Insane ran to the by-line, crossed in for Darren “Don’t call me Alan Cork” Grieves, it was back to ye olden days. A hard fought game against a side higher up than we were and getting it right late on. Really late on – 89 minutes according to the OS. Villa at PL, anyone?

But the best thing about it was the end. The fact that we went mental is one thing. The fact that the players went mental is another. It was one of those moments that, despite the AFCW rollercoaster of the past four years, we haven’t really seen too much of in a while. OK, there’s Herne Bay, and one or two others, but right then, something clicked and clicked well. Forget which one, but the sight of one of our goalies at the warm-down acting like we’d drawn Chelski away said it all.

In the grand scheme of things, this was only one game in a competition we probably won’t win. But I doubt there was a Womble who walked away and didn’t glow with glee. Hell, I was almost smiling (I said almost).

With that disturbing thought in mind, here’s….

Plus points: A win. A clean sheet. Rosco D’Insane. The 89th minute.

Minus points: BB’s injury.

The referee’s a…..: I understand that the Horsham assistant is about to be reported because of a little, ahem, remonstrating with the man in black (no, not me) afterwards. The alleged phrase being that the referee was an “absolute cunt”. And I agree that calling the ref that is wrong. After all, a cunt has a function, which is more than can be said for that consumer of equine love goo. Managed to miss their #7 throw a punch, or so I’m told by a Main Stand regular. This despite taking 4 minutes discussing the incident with his two linos. Reports that D’Insane headbutted the Horsham player will be conveniently ignored. Certainly seemed to let same #7 gob off complain at him for god knows how long afterwards, escaping a red in the process. Sure you can add your own, there’s not enough hours in the day for me to add more.

Them: Best team we’ve played this season, yet even so I felt that we edged them. Turned up in number, and for the most part justified why they’re amongst many fans’ favourite visiting side. Still can’t quite help thinking that they’ve been louder in the past though. Shame that one bald headed individual took the defeat a little bit too badly outside the main bar afterwards, in particular to one of our fans with his kid in toe. Still, he got cut down to size (not literally…..)

Three’s a crowd: I was quite surprised to hear it was 1966, though I reckoned 1700 beforehand. Going sub-2000 for a Saturday game doesn’t do much for psychology though. Still, looks like the club’s recent leafleting drive may have had some effect…

Point to ponder: How nice would it be to have a cup run? Just imagine the buzz we’d get if we somehow made it to the first round proper, and drew a Mansfield, or a Cheltenham, or a Wycombe. I won’t mention Franchise.

Actually, my main point hit me at 5.03pm yesterday as I was walking back to my car. I had a secret grin on my face, walking along drinking a bottle of water and really looking forward to the next round. I had a realisation that this is what football is about. Watching a club isn’t about whether to elect a CEO, or to deal with corporate governance, or whether a 13% dip in crowds will affect mid-term fourth quarter targets.

It’s about the last minute win against tough opponents. It’s about seeing the players up for it. It’s about that orgasmic thrill. And, if you’re a certain type, it’s about giving the opposition/referee a strategically placed gesture knowing full well victory is yours. Not that I condone such vulgar acts, obviously.

To me, football generally has lost its spark because too many clubs, players and yes, fans have gone down this accountant-led inertia that cup games are a distraction. That the league is the be-all and end-all, and not because of the success but because of the financial boost. Where’s the glamour in that? Where’s the feeling of achievement with that attitude? Yesterday, we captured that old feeling for at least a couple of days.

On a related subject, and it’s not a specific AFCW point, it depresses me whenever I hear phrases like “let’s get them back to our place and get the money”. Not “let’s get a replay so we can beat them”. Has it ever occured that perhaps winning big games generates momentum, which generates interest, which does generate money?

I think what I’m saying is, the league may be the most important thing, but it’s not the only thing. You cannot buy the interest generated from a decent cup run. Think Burnley/Leeds from 1975, the 88 cup run, even the games against Man Utd in the late 90s. Football isn’t all about balance sheets….

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Hearing DG’s name and our result on R5 as I drove back to SW19 Towers. Little things like that can make a nice day better. (2) Was it really this time last year that W&H dumped us out of the FAC? (3) Seeing our goal on Sky Sports News. Looked awesome. Shame they didn’t broadcast the atmosphere..

Anything else? Confession time. I don’t know whether it was simply because of the opponents, but cup fever didn’t really grab me at first. To me, half the enjoyment of cups is to draw really obscure teams, preferably in a part of the country where you’d never go even if they paid you. And come away with a 5-0 win, naturelment.

I know plenty want home games all the way through to the first round proper, preferably against cannon fodder. As noted above, it may be good for the coffers but is it really as much fun to take that attitude? Be honest, how many of you were slightly disappointed that we drew Horsham at home when the draw was made? By all means go for a home tie against a Conference side. No idea how the FA determines the regional boundaries, though if it’s how they usually run things expect us to be drawn away to Northallerton Town.

So, was it worth it? If it isn’t, I’ll quit watching football and take up something passive instead, like gardening or watching rugby union

In a nutshell: Four games until Franchise. It is four, isn’t it?