In six days I'll be off to Dartford for the 1st Qualifying Round game against Sittingbourne. Whilst I'm looking forward to the game, there is something else that is quite engrossing about this venture. Yes, there will be many new grounds to visit. Yes, there will be teams I would not ordinarily travel to watch. Yes, there will be some cracking cup football. But there is another thing, and I can't quite put my finger on it.
The only way I can describe the feeling is something akin to an adventure into the unknown. Admittedly, it is not in the same league as Tenzing and Hillary or Amundsen, but for me it is enthralling nonetheless. Just where in the country is this road to take me? The FA Cup draws will now have a completely different meaning for me. No longer will I simply be focused on my team. There will now be a totally new meaning. The balls pulled out of the bag could push me off almost anywhere in England or Wales. It is this I find the most captivating.
Sad, I know.
Out of interest, I took a look at the FA Cup competition from last season, 2006-07. Starting with Chertsey Town, I plotted the route to Wembley. The following sequence of games were thrown up:
> Chertsey Town 3, Abingdon Town 2
> Oxford City 5, Chertsey Town 0
> Bishop's Cleeve 3, Oxford City 1
> Newport County 4, Bishop's Cleeve 2
> Tonbridge Angels 0, Newport County 1
> Newport County 1, Swansea City 3
> Darlington 1, Swansea City 3
> Sheffield United 0, Swansea City 3
> Ipswich Town 1, Swansea City 0
> Watford 1, Ipswich Town 0
> Plymouth Argyle 0, Watford 1
> Watford 1, Manchester United 4 (at Aston Villa)
> Chelsea 1, Manchester United 0
And now it strikes me. If I had done this last season, I could have been off to all four corners...Newport County, Darlington, Ipswich and Plymouth. I would have witnessed Swansea's impressive cup run. Interestingly, I would not have seen an all-Premiership tie until the semi-final, assuming I would have been able to find tickets.
But the past is no guide to the present, especially with the FA Cup.
Who knows? This season, I may spend the majority of the FA Cup in Kent.