Monday, 16 August 2010

One for the grandchildren

No-one knew it as it happened very quietly, but on Saturday 14 August 2010 I fulfilled a near lifelong ambition. At the age of nearly 40, I made my first appearance on a club's team sheet for the FA Cup.

The FA Cup, or to give it the official name,'FA Cup sponsored by E-on' has lost its lustre to most in recent years. Why? Well it can be partly explained by that horrid official name, but mostly it is because it has been usurped by the behemoth Premier League, which because of the prize money involved, has now become more important to the clubs. Coming 7th rather than 10th is now more vital than actually winning a pot. (My own Premiership preference, Manchester City were the first to adopt this approach, from 1976, but forgot about the league position bit).

The degrading of the "oldest cup competition in the World" has advanced so far now that this season, not only will the Premiership not have finished when the final is played, as has happened before, but in fact there is a full set of Premiership fixtures scheduled on the day of the final. That this disgraceful timetable has not warranted even a single tweet from journalists further indicates the Cup's new standing.

But for those of us of a certain age, the FA Cup still matters, and always will. The Cup Final was the first game we ever saw on TV (1977) for the majority of us in their late 30s and above, and the only game we saw all year. It provided lifetime memories like Alan Sunderland's last minute winner, Tommy Hutchinson scoring at both ends and Trevor Brooking's header whilst making household names of hitherto unknown players like Roger Osbourne.

Because of this, when I was growing up, I wanted to play in the FA Cup. The final, preferably. Sadly, I was never even nearly a good enough player though to even make the early rounds.

Latterly, as the Cup has become less relevant to the public, it has remained relevant to me as I got involved at Glossop North End. A couple of wins in the early rounds could mean a couple of thousand pounds for the club, and when GNE were in dire straights, this was certainly welcome. I remember only too well the gloom around the place when there was a Preliminary Round defeat to Ludlow Town, who had looked eminently beatable.

And it is that involvement with GNE that has allowed me, sneakily, to finally tick another box on the list of things I want to happen before I die.

My role has many facets, but handily two of them are assisting in the player registration forms and completing the team sheet before a game. So pre-season, I filled in my signing-on form - I am now possibly the oldest player registered with the Vodkat League - and then before our tie with Wigan Robin Park on Saturday,once the proper team had been entered onto the sheet, I added my name to the list. Teams are allowed seven subs in the FA Cup, but rarely pick more than five, extraordinarily six, so there I was - in substitute number seven heaven.

I didn't tell anyone, and I didn't put myself on the printed list for the clubhouse window. But I did keep the clubs copy of the official teamsheet, and this will be going in a frame and kept safely in my possession as proof on my involvement in what in truth was an ordinary game, but marks a special moment personally in my continuing love affair with the competition.


Tommy said...

Nice work mate... love it. FA Cup appearance by subterfuge. Brilliant.

PeterB said...

A very enjoyable blog post, Haggis. Do post the pic, would be great to see it.

Neil said...

Oh the fun we could have had if you'd joined in the warm up!
And if you'd have been on the bench it's safe to say it would have given Youngy an option he doesn't normally have!

Haggis said...

photo now added!

Haggis said...

At last, someone had noticed the clash