Sunday, 14 October 2007

The Magic of the FA Cup

I WAS THERE! Bower Fold, Stalybridge, Saturday 13th October 2007

Daisy, our cat, woke me at 4.00am yesterday morning. I don't know why she does this but it is happening more often and especially on a Saturday when it would be nice to have a little bit of a lie in. I got up, made a cup of tea and read the newspapers online. But I can't settle. I have this idea in the back of my mind and it just won't go away.

On Friday evening I was talking with my father-in-law about the FA Cup and the games we remembered. I recalled my first Cup Final - Nottingham Forest against Luton Town in 1959 when Forest won 2-1 with ten men (having lost Elton John's uncle Roy Dwight, who was carried off with a broken leg after scoring the opening goal). So I have had 48 years of enjoying the excitement of the FA Cup and as Brian and I exchanged memories, the thought crossed my mind as to how many more FA Cup competitions we might be able to see.

In the early hours of the morning I didn't want to start going over this again but the idea that had been in the back of my mind all week suddenly took centre stage and there and then I decided. I would go to Stalybridge after all!

Back in the early 1990's, I wrote a series of books on the History of Workington Reds, a team I had supported since my time back at boarding school in Steyning in Sussex in the 1960s. The books charted the progress of the Reds season by season from 1951 to 1965 and in its field the series was a best seller. A copy of So Sad, So Very Sad - Book One was recently sold on ebay for £15, three times its cover price. Researching the books and familiarising myself with the record of the club strengthened my attachment to the Cumbrian football outpost and not only secured me for life as a club supporter, but also led to my family moving the length of the country to make Cumbria our home.

Yesterday's FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round at Stalybridge Celtic was a one o'clock kick-off. I left Silloth at 8.30am, picked up Ron Scott in Maryport (Ron ran the Workington Reds Soccer Shop in the club's Football League days) and then it was the A66, M6, M61 and M60 junction 23, through Ashton on the A635 to Stalybridge and we were enjoying a pre-match drink in the Bower Fold social club just after mid-day.

It was the right decision to go. One of those days I will always remember. Reds won 5-0 and I was back home, celebrating with a glass of Cava even before the rest of the family had returned from shopping in Carlisle.

And yesterday evening the sport just went on. At 7.30 I mentioned that I would like to watch the rugby. There were cries of anguish but I pulled rank as a 'veteran' and the England vs France game was on. Two hours later no one had left the room - apart for a cup of tea at half-time. Everyone had been rivetted to the TV. It was disappointing for me that I was unable to answer some of questions asked regarding the rules of the game, but the fact that four people, three of them ladies, watched a game they initially said they didn't want to does pose a question. Was it the rugby that held their interest or was it support for the English, those down-trodden and much maligned people that we are hardly allowed to mention nowadays in fear of causing offence to others. The huge cheer at the end of the game indicated it was the latter.

Helping the evening along was a vegetarian meal for a change. When I got back from Stalybridge, I par-boiled some potatoes and then sliced and layered them with grated cheese in an ovenproof dish. Each layer was seasoned and topped with mixed herbs and crushed garlic. Three layers in all, before a pint of cream was poured over. In a hot oven for about an hour and served with a tomato and red onion salad with a mustard and honey dressing.

On Friday I was forced to start moderating comments on this site because Labour Party supporters were targetting it with their anti-BNP nonsense. I had hoped that the comment boards could have provided a reasonable debate forum but obviously that was just wishful thinking. This morning there were 12 comments for moderation and I did start to try to edit them to allow points to be made. But it's too much work and I just haven't got the time, so comments making personal attacks on other forum posters have been rejected as have any posts with language or terminology that has no place in political debate.

No comments: