Ah, the romance of the Football Association Challenge Cup. Soccer’s most storied trophy, a prized Grail second only to very The Holy Grail from which Christ drank at the Last Supper.
This gleaming receptacle, fashioned in the image of Francis Jeffers’ head, has been won by actual heavyweights of English Football, such as Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton, as well as an enormous middle-tier of Tenth Placers, Relegation Yo-Yos and Clubs of Deluded Grandeur such as Portsmouth, West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur respectively. It has even graced the trophy cabinet of clubs who are, at east now, firmly in the realm of the minnow; Clapham Rovers, Bury, Notts County, Cardiff City.
Once in a while the footballing gods see fit to bestow superhuman powers on one lower – and in this case non-League club, thrusting them onwards, even to the exalted heights of the 5th round and further. And football needs this. The players of these teams, Sutton United and Lincoln City, seem more like the man in the street than the perfumed ponces of the Premier League. They could very well be delivering your post, waiting at your table, plastering your East Wing or cutting your cigar the next day. But they have hopes, dreams, and other platitudinal clichés. So it is with very great pleasure that we crushed the dreams of the ordinary man on Saturday.
The crushing of dreams serves as a lesson to the general populace that the natural order of things is rarely upset. These little clubs represent the main-in-the-street’s struggle against the establishment. A struggle which he invariably loses. Clubs like Arsenal should be thanked and praised for their work in handing out reality like bowls of soup to the needy.
The game against Lincoln City was a game we could not really win. If we lost, it would be trebles of hilarity all round and newspaper editors would have to dust off their pictures of broken-cannons-broken-into-at-least-four-pieces. Or perhaps a cannon with its barrel twisted onto itself in an act of suicide. Or the faces of our players superimposed onto the bodies of Lemmings as they hurl themselves off a cliff.
As we thrashed them, the story was that it was all very well for Arsenal to crush teams like Lincoln City but Why Can’t They Do It With the Big Boys? So, British football press and broadcasters, I say this. Go and boil your heads.
As for the match itself, the first half was like watching an elderly half-blind feral farm cat toy with a mouse. It knows what it wants to do, and it vaguely remembers how, but can’t quite strike the fatal blow. On a few occasions it was like the rodent had taken a line of jazz salt and thrown itself into a crazed counter-attack on the farm cat, when only Harry the Helmet stopped Nathan Arnold from scoring. Then on the stroke of Oranges, Fenton took the lead for Woolwich.
After the break the farm cat decided that this impudent mouse needed the sweet embrace of death, And Brigadier Goring-Hildred made it two on 53 minutes. The Lincoln mouse then committed Mousie-Kiri via an own goal from Luke Waterfall, with Saunders booting the tiny carcass for 4-0 and even Ramsara getting on the scoresheet.
All in all our 29th FA Cup semi-final came via a restorative thrashing, something to get the blood pumping through the veins, in much the same way as I severely beat a stable hand or a chambermaid following a particularly galling loss. We hope the Baggies provide an equally limp challenge, and that we tear the Midlands Mouse limb from limb in a lunchtime massacre.