FA Cup, Second Round
Unusually for me this round I primarily supported one of the teams and not the competition. Ordinarily I just have a curiosity for York City, my local club; following their fortunes adds a bit of interest towards the end of the football results. But I’d witnessed York’s win in the previous round and the (sort of) derby at Darlington in this round was the obvious one to pick so suddenly I found myself caught up in a mini-cup run.
The ground may have been largely empty but the impressive 1,447 York fans still had to queue up in a snow flurry for 10 mins to buy a ticket which ‘we’ could’ve done without. The atmosphere inside seemed almost surreal. Snow which had been cleared from the pitch by fans at 5.30am this morning (thanks so much, lads) was heaped up behind some touchlines while covers, easily mistaken for more snow, were folded back behind others. The pitch still had a residual white dusting and the fading, low sunshine gave the whole scene an unusual crisp, white light. For this tie the new orange FA Cup ball wasn’t just a gimmick but very necessary. The lines on the pitch had been painted light blue too.
Strangely perhaps, all things considered, this was the best outing of my FA Cup trail so far. No prizes for guessing where I’m off to for my eighth tie …
Star turns: Turning out for Darlo today was 35-year-old Keith Gillespie (ex-Man United and Northern Ireland). Paul Terry, brother of John, is also on the Quakers’ books.
Thumbs down to Stevenage: If I was the sort who started Facebook groups I’d have started one urging Stevenage to gracefully withdraw from the Cup after the first round having knocked out MK Dons and denying neutral supporters the length and breadth of the land – as well as the ITV audience – the prospect of the ultimate grudge match: Wimbledon v. MK Dons. Ah, well, perhaps in the League in a couple of seasons …
Recommended viewing: Click here for the brief ITV highlights of today’s match. And below is some cracking footage of a tie between York and Southampton in 1971. Favourite bits: the quaint picket fence all round the pitch, the marvellous lamb chop sideboards of the Southampton goalie and the classic Mick Channon hip swerve for the Saints’s second goal. Interesting cameo too from Albert Johanneson, a pioneering black winger who played for Leeds in the 1965 FA Cup final and joined York for one season at the end of his career. He died, penniless, in a high-rise Leeds flat in 1995.