It’s the start of November, so along with the days getting colder and the lure of Christmas drawing ever closer for every football fan it can mean just one thing – the first round of the FA Cup.
Whether you’re supporting Shortwood United or Wolves there is nothing like the excitement of a cup run, and this Saturday is where dreams could become reality. Every year the first round always throws up a few crackers; take Blue Square South team Dorchester Town beating Plymouth Argyle of League 2 last season, and this year is not likely to disappoint.
Talking of Plymouth, they once again face non-league opposition in Lincoln City, with the Pilgrims struggling in League 2 this season and not having won a single game in the competition since 2007, the Imps could fancy their chances of causing an upset at Sincil Bank. With a couple of wins in the league recently John Sheridan’s men will be doing all they can to put a stop to the poor run in the cup.
Another giant killing may well be on the cards at the ProKit UK Stadium where Bishop’s Stortford play host to Northampton Town. The Cobblers are currently bottom of the Football League and without a win in their last five, whereas the hosts are third in the Skrill South. Cup games are nothing new to the Bishops, as this is their fourth game in the competition this year already after entering in the second qualifying round, seeing off Hendon, Chipstead and Forest Green Rovers along the way. They will be eager to add Northampton to the list.
Everybody loves a story of the part-time footballers getting their chance in the spotlight; this year’s minnows are Daventry Town, the lowest ranked team left in the competition playing their football in the eighth tier of English football. Last weekend they were playing Wingate and Finchley in the FA Trophy – this week its Chesterfield away. With 94 places separating them on the football ladder, it is a slightly tougher test for Darran Foster’s men but one that they will relish.
Who would have thought this time five years ago that Portsmouth would be going into a first round tie as underdogs against Stevenage? Since winning the competition in 2008, Portsmouth have gradually declined ever since. Perhaps another cup run would do them some good. Another team hoping the cup could lift spirits is Bristol City; with just two wins all season a good cup run could give them the impetus they need to kick start their season. Dagenham and Redbridge will be having other ideas.
Local derbies, everybody loves them, and victory tastes even sweeter when it comes in the cup. With less than 30 miles separating Scunthorpe and Grimsby Blundell Park, this could well be one of the games of the round. Another tasty affair will be at the New York Stadium as Rotherham host Bradford in a Yorkshire derby which is sure to entertain. Another game sure to cause tension in many a household is Brentford lining up against Staines Town. Even with the Bees riding high in League, 1 they are sure to be put to the test in Saturday’s game. Just a matter of train stops away for those Staines fans, that’s not the case however for Carlisle and Plymouth fans, who face a near 600 mile round trip to see their side face Boreham Wood and Lincoln respectively.
That’s commitment for you. That’s the FA Cup for you, real passion from real fans.
Image courtesy of CCFC