Ah, the FA Cup. The greatest cup competition in the world, or an unwanted distraction? It totally depends on who you ask really, with some managers putting their league campaigns first, and others looking for that bit of cup magic to spark life into their season.
Personally, I love the FA cup, but it seems others are slowly falling out of love with the competition, with league position taking precedence in today’s money orientated footballing world. And that’s a great shame, with some of my greatest footballing memories coming from the FA Cup..and some of my worst too. But that’s just it, it’s a competition where the part-timers get their 90 minutes of fame, where the minnows get to mix it with the big boys.
And sometimes, miracles happen, and the big boys get embarrassed. And that’s the magic of the cup. Heroes can, and will be made.
Anyhow, I digress. The First Round proper kicks off this weekend, and there’s some rather tasty looking ties indeed.
So, where are the potential banana skins? Where will the magic come from?
Histon vs Swindon Town
With Histon going so well in the Blue Square Premier currently, and Swindon looking so inconsistent in League One, this one could have cupset written all over it. Under the stewardship of John Beck, who will have his Histon side up for this I’m sure, you just know The Stutes will be hard to play against, and will pull out all the stops to get a result. Throw in the tight non-league ground factor – something Swindon wont be accustomed to, and it could be Histon’s day.
Carlisle United vs Grays Athletic
Two sides in complete turmoil, but for very different reasons. Either way, this game should provide a welcome distraction for both sides.
For Carlisle it’s all change, with John Ward leaving the club earlier in the week and Greg Abbott taking temporary charge of team affairs for the second time. A chance for Abbott to stake a claim for the permanent job, you’d have to think, though he has a job on his hands rejuvinating this Carlisle side, with only one point from their last 27.
It’s not all rosy at Grays howver, far from it in fact. Sat firmly in the relegation zone in the Blue Square Premier, with the squad asked to take a 50% paycut, their problems really put things in perspective at Carlisle. But a cup run might be just what the Essex club needs, and with nothing to lose and the squad no doubt all pulling together in their current plight, I fancy Grays to pile on the misery for Carlisle at Brunton Park.
Kettering Town vs Lincoln City
Sure, Kettering have bigger fish to fry, with promotion on the agenda (and who could have predicted that?) but winning breeds confidence, and at the moment Kettering Town are flying. The Blue Square Premier table toppers will no doubt fancy their chances against a frustratingly inconsistent Lincoln side, who just havent got going this season in League Two.
Team Bath vs Forest Green
What on earth has happened at Forest Green? So effective and easy on the eye last season, this season they look a different proposition altogether, with Jim Harvey’s side languishing in the relegation places. On the other hand, Team Bath are going strong in the Blue Square South, and the passionate home support at Twerton Park could well guide them past a Rovers side looking desperately short of confidence.
Torquay United vs Evesham
No upset here folks (wow, how much could I regret saying that?), but a chance for the Gulls to stretch their unbeaten record to 13 games in all competitions. The club record of 16 games unbeaten is within sight, as Paul Buckle and his Torquay squad look to make history. Let’s just hope Evesham dont spoil the party.
So, there we have it. Contrary to popular belief, the FA Cup doesnt start in Round 3 when the Premiership teams join in, and plenty of heroes will be made this weekend alone. Could Havant and Waterlooville upset the odds again against high flying Brentford? Could Hornchurch bring big spending Peterborough back down to earth? Or better yet, how about AFC Wimbledon getting one over on Peter Taylor’s Wycombe Wanderers?
AFC Wimbledon vs Milton Keynes Dons in Round Two anyone? Now wouldn’t that be something.