Friday, 31 August 2007

Holiday season

In an earlier post I mentioned how introverted Chertsey is when it comes to it's football team. On the eve of their tie at Sittingbourne, it's true to say that Chertsey is not sweating with an FA Cup fever. Hardly surprising, the kids aren't even back at school yet.

Today I paid good money for a copy of the local paper, the Surrey Herald. Chertsey Town did get some coverage in the back pages with reports on their last two league games (a 3-0 home win over Raynes Park Vale and a 4-1 tonking at Bedfont).

But no specific preview of the cup tie.

One thing did catch my eye though. I know that football at this level is a million miles removed from your Chelseas or Man Uniteds. But buried in the report on the Bedfont defeat, without any sense of surprise or bemusement, was the following quote about the understrength Chertsey team:

"Injuries and non-availabilities had decimated the Chertsey side. Four key members of the squad were away on holiday"

Come again? On holiday?

Imagine Arsene Wenger's reaction if Theo Walcott phoned in to explain that he would miss the Sparta Prague game 'cos he had a week booked in at Butlins (pretty good creche there Theo).

But this happens in the lower leagues. The bread and butter games are the league games against the likes of Ash United, Cove or Dorking and in many cases family commitments come first. The FA Cup is a diversion. But a welcome diversion. Up and down the length of the country this weekend, from Consett to Wootton Bassett, there will be players of all ages and experiences getting excited about playing in the FA Cup. For many, just to play in an FA Cup match will be the fulfilment of a dream.

And on this first weekend in September, numerous teams will be playing in their own cup final. I just hope the Chertsey lads are back from the beach in time for theirs.

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