The Eastbourne Borough v Weymouth game on Saturday is gearing up to be a cracking cup tie. Neither set of fans are over confident about the result and both know it will be a difficult, close game. Any kind of predictions are proving hard to elicit. There promises to be a good atmosphere and I sense that a party mood will be prevalent. Eastbourne will have their drums and Weymouth fans will be wearing wigs for their journey along the South Coast.
Well, back in 2005 Weymouth had a memorable day in the FA Cup First Round Proper away at Nottingham Forest where they held the League One side to a 1-1 draw. The Weymouth fans made a lasting impression after bringing a carnival atmosphere to the City Ground. The 1800 Weymouth fans on that day took with them a plethora of inflatables.
After the success of the inflatables in 2005, the Dorset club have urged their fans to wear team coloured wigs (claret and blue) for the game this coming Saturday.
This story about the Weymouth inflatables reminded me of the craze in the late 1980s whereby supporters began to take inflatables to matches. I recall that Manchester City were one of the clubs to start this trend where the inflatable of choice was the banana. At West Ham it was the air-filled hammer. Bury had blown-up black puddings.
And I never forget the inflatable haddock at Grimsby. I remember being trapped in a sea of Grimsby fans and large haddock which was all rather traumatising for me. So much so that I have never since been able face a plate of kedgeree without breaking into a cold sweat.
The inflatable craze was a great lift for the game in England at that time, which was still reeling from Heysel, hooliganism and the threat of national identity cards. And I remember how it brought some good publicity back to the game. Football fans in our country do know how to party, and the FA Cup brings out the best, whether it's silly costumes, inflatables or wigs.
So this Saturday I'm looking forward to the drums and the wigs. Although I am relieved that there will be no haddock.