First Qualifying Round Report
September 3rd, 2022, Emirates FACup First Qualifying Round, Trade Tyres Community Stadium, Brownfields Road, Lichfield.
Lichfield City 2, Stourport Swifts 2. Att. 162
September 6th, 2022, Emirates FACup First Qualifying Round Replay, Walshes Meadow, Stourport.
Stourport Swifts 0, Lichfield City 1. Att 202
Funny old game, life. One minute, you’re bobbing along, happy as a lark or shit, the next, poof! all your dreams evaporate, and you find yourself staring into an abyss which reveals to you the emptiness at the heart of your own existence. The events of 08/09/2022 have upset me profoundly, in a way I didn’t really expect. I slept badly last night, and woke too early, turning it all over in my head. Of course, it had to happen sometime. But why now?
Graham Potter’s departure from Brighton for Chelsea, taking with him a large chunk of our backroom staff, feels like a betrayal. How could he do this to us fans? The truth is hard to face; he was never a fan. None of them were, not even El Capitan, Bruno, who fans thought would be with BHA forever and ever and ever. Even he has gone to Stamford fecking Bridge. They were not fans, but hard-nosed professionals, ambitious for their career. Fair enough I suppose.
I think Potter and his team have made a huge blunder, because they have misunderstood the nature of Brighton and Hove Albion. It’s one of the very few clubs in the Premier League which is owned by a) a very very rich man who is, b) a life-long fan of the club. Our biggest fan, by far, is Tony Bloom, and it motivates everything he does for the club, like building us a wonderful stadium, a top academy, and state of ye olde art training facilities. With a fan at the top, and an amazing home ground at the Amex (after Withdean and thrice-cursed Gillingham), Potter will be missed less than fans fear, I suspect, because Tony Bloom only wants what’s best for the club, and will find the best solution for BHA.
The feeling of being at a club run by and for fans is one of the delights of Ian’s Big Fat FACup Challenge. Lichfield City is a case in point: a tidy little ground, a kind welcome from the committee, excellent football, and a choice of pies made for a top day out. There were things to shout at right up to the last kick, when Stourport Swifts scored a penalty (having missed one earlier in the match), thus taking the teams to a replay the following Tuesday. Some improvements have been made to the pictures, because Glenn Duggan didn’t just drive us there and back, he took some excellent shots of the game, (below), whilst I just did the pies (above). Richard Gennis was also a valuable participant, adding much needed Glaswegian grit to mine and Glenn’s passive English resignation. Glenn also took this selfie, from which he skillfully excluded himself; nice try, Prof. Duggan, but it’s proper selfie next time.
As you can see, my moobs distort the message on the T shirt somewhat; a shame. I like the green, though, which I feel suits my rural colouring. Never a slim lad (not since 1987, anyway), chemo and steroids have helped me pile on the pounds… though a moment’s thought makes me realise that pies don’t help.
Top of the culprit list on the weight gain front, though, is hormones. Do you remember larger folk blaming their fatness on hormones? It was a thing; maybe it still is. Anyway, looks like they might have had a point. Every three months, I’m given a testosterone blocking inplant, called ‘Zolodex’, and it has changed me, I thought beyond recognition. They told me at the start that it was ‘as good as a castration‘, but that I might suffer some of horrors of menopause; which I very much have.
Take it from me, if you don’t like being stuck by needles, don’t bother getting cancer. It’s not as bad as it was when I was first diagnosed, when someone was sticking needles into me most days; things are largely quiet at the moment, so all I have is a three-monthly bloodtest. I got the result of my most recent bloodtest the day before the match; all holding fairly steady. And the Zolodex is working – I have no detectable testosterone. None. Not a drop.
Yet the biggest delight of all in Ian’s Big Fat FACup Challenge is just that of going to the football with your mates on a Saturday afternoon. Swearing. Telling jokes I wouldn’t tell you. Eating pies that are just a bit too hot. Talking about scrapes you were in. Calling utter strangers bad names, in a loud voice, just because they conceded a throw-in. It’s a thing I did every Saturday when I was 14/15/16, and that I’ve done whenever I could since. The pleasure is undiminished. I am, in my own way, a geezer.
I guess when I was 14/15/16, testosterone blasted through my system, and that was one of the reasons I liked going to the football; the shouting, the running about, the terrified faces of old ladies when we sat in the luggage rack on the train back to Newhaven. Most of the rest of the time, my testosterone foccused on girls, but on Saturdays, I could behave badly, hang out with pals, watch Brighton, and drink canned Guinness until I was sick on the platform at Hove station.
But, (and we are coming to the nub of the thing at last), although having no testosterone has made me think again about no longer extant sexuality, its absence has clearly not affected my enjoyment of going to the game, in the slightest. The ref is still a wanker. My mates are still really funny. The Guinness has been replaced by Costa Coffee taken on the trip home, but the results bear a family resemblance. So what does this tell us? Nothing much, beyond that you don’t need testosterone to be a geezer, especially an old one.
Replays – A Statement
As you’ll have noticed, the game went to a replay. None of us could attend. So we have made a policy: replays don’t count. Let me run the following hypothetical past you in order to explain. Lichfield City have drawn Boston United at home in the next round. If it’s a draw, we would have to drive to Boston on a Tuesday night, a 350 mile round trip. If Boston won the replay, and were drawn at home in the next round, we’d have to back to Boston ten days later. So, we follow the eventual winner of the tie, rather than the match. Glad to have cleared this up.
A note on attendance
Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted that the attendace at Walshe’s Meadow for the game against Racing Club Warwick was 203, and that the attendance for the replay against Lichfield City was 202. Since there were four of us at the first game, and none at the second, this means that the crowd at the replay was actually up by three, in real terms. The crowds are starting to snowball, clearly.