First ever blog, first ever post, and an apology already. It's my title, you see. "Wick to Wembley?". It's not quite right, slightly misleading. But I'll come to that in a bit.
Ever since my Dad took me to my first ever FA Cup game I fell in love with the competition and I'm still in love. Don't ask me to explain why, I don't know. My wife regularly reminds me it is football, a game, nothing more, nothing less. Twenty two people chasing a pig's bladder around a field. What is there to love?
I'll watch any football game, always have, always will.
But the FA Cup is special. Every season I look forward to it. The small clubs in the early rounds, the First Round proper where there is always an upset, the Third Round where the "big" clubs join in, the excitement of the Semis and then the Final itself, steeped in history. And don't get me started on the draws. Even better when they are live draws. The balls in the bag, the team numbers, the anticipation, excitement and then disappointment when your team gets Darlington (away). Fantastic.
And every year I hear myself saying the same thing "You know, one year I'm going to do a Road to Wembley type thing....". Every bloody year. It drives my wife mad, I'm sure it irritates the hell out of my friends, it is even starting to annoy me now.
So, just do it.
You know the thing, don't you? Go and watch your local club in the Extra Preliminary Round in August. Whichever team wins, go and see them in the next round, and so on, until you arrive at the Final. Wembley. Easy. Job done.
And so here I am, and I've been to the first match:
"Football Association Challenge Cup (sponsored by e.on) Extra Preliminary Round, Chertsey Town v Wick, Tuesday 21st August 2007 Kick Off 7.45pm."
Kind of by accident really. A Tuesday night, nothing on the TV. Chertsey Town's home ground only a stone's throw from home. At the end of my lane, to be precise. Why not?
And this is where my apology enters, stage left. This was actually a replay, the first game was at Wick (a 2-2 draw). I thought "Wick to Wembley" sounded a little snappier than "Chertsey Town to Wembley". Sorry.
But why the question mark(?) in "Wick to Wembley?". Well, I'm not sure if I can do it. It's a tall order. Obscure grounds in places (or even parts of the country) I've never been to before. The distances to travel. The cost. The availability of tickets in the latter rounds. My wife. My child. The inane sadness of it all.
Who knows? In the meantime, come on in, the water is lovely.