Friday, 25 January 2008

Laugh? I nearly started

My wife makes me laugh, so much at times it makes me cry.

Between mid September and mid October last year I saw Dartford play five times in the FA Cup. And in the days prior to every one of those matches my wife would ask where am I going next. "Is it Watford?" she would enquire. And each time I would need to remind her that it is Dartford, not Watford. I would hear her on the phone to family or friends "yeah, he's off to Watford again this weekend". No matter how many times I corrected her, she still mixed the two places up. They say that men don't listen. It became a bit of a joke.

Then, lo and behold, fate sends me off to Watford for tomorrow's Fourth Round match. You can see where this is going, can't you? At the beginning of the week she asked me whether I had got "the Dartford tickets yet". On Wednesday my brother-in-law came over to watch the Arsenal game; to complicate matters he explained that he is working in Dartford this week, at which point my wife pipes up "that's where Wolves are playing on Saturday". Even my son joined in "can I come to Dartford with you on Saturday". I've given up now, there's no point. The icing on the cake was when my brother-in-law left after the Arsenal drubbing, my wife shouted after him "hope the work in Watford goes OK".

Good grief.

Anyway, tomorrow's game. I'm looking forward to it, I think it will be a close affair. The bookies can't separate the two teams and this is the only tie that ensures a Championship team will reach the next round. I have mentioned in previous posts that there has been a smattering of ambivalence amongst the Watford and Wolves fans about the game. I was a perhaps somewhat harsh; I have since been contacted by a number of fans from both clubs who are looking forward to the game simply because it is an FA Cup game. The FA Cup still holds it's old magic to some supporters; we are now getting into the business end of the competition and there are only four ties to negotiate before a trip to Wembley beckons.

To go and watch your team play at Wembley is still a dream for many fans. I heard the utter disappointment in the Everton fan's voices after they lost midweek to Chelsea, one step away from a trip down the M6 and the M1 to the new national stadium. Many Everton fans felt confident of disposing of Chelsea in the semi-final of the Carling Cup, and some of those fans described the defeat as "heartbreaking".

And look at how the Tottenham fans reacted to their mauling of Arsenal. The place was rocking, my TV almost fell off it's stand. Admittedly, a victory over Arsenal, for the first time since 1999, would send any Spurs fan berserk, but I know that the thought of day out at Wembley in February played a part in the celebrations of both the Spurs fans and the Spurs players.

And in the FA Cup tonight, tomorrow and on Sunday, players and fans will start to dream of a Wembley appearance. Maybe not so much to some of the smaller teams still in the competition - Havant & Waterlooville have reached their "Wembley" already and I'm thrilled for the club - but certainly for clubs like Watford and Wolves, with a good wind an a kind draw, the prospect of a Wembley visit may start to become more conceivable.

There are some great games to watch out for this weekend. The match at Anfield is the pick of the bunch for me (and surprise, surprise, it is not being televised). But other games are equally intriguing. Peterborough United host West Bromwich Albion in what should be a good game, with both team banging in the goals this season. A possible shock on the cards there? Barnet v Bristol Rovers also appeals with both teams beating higher placed opposition in replays this week. That tie guarantees a team outside of the top two leagues in the Fifth Round Proper. Other attractive games include Mansfield against Middlesborough and the battle of the roses between Oldham Athletic and Huddersfield Town. And even Arsenal against Newcastle offers plenty for two teams that have been in the news so much recently.

If you are off to an FA Cup game this weekend, I hope you get to see some entertaining football.

And finally, back to something else that made me laugh this week. Another cracking looking fixture tomorrow is the FA Cup tie between Portsmouth and Plymouth Argyle, two teams with an abundance of passionate support. On the radio this morning I heard that Harry Redknapp, Portsmouth manager, has offered an unusual incentive to Benjani Mwaruwari, the Pompey striker. If he scores a hat-rick in tomorrow's game, Harry Redkanpp will provide Benjani with Fish & Chips for the rest of the season.

I think I'll have Fish & Chips tonight; that will set me up nicely for my trip to Dartford. Sorry, Watford.


Al Jerram said...

Have a fantastic time in Dartford Andy!!! Hopefully we'll be welcoming you down to Fratton Park in the next round!!!!

Anonymous said...

You just had to put the mockers on us! "A possible shock on the cards there". That almost guarantees West Brom safe passage to the next round. Really hope you enjoy Watford v Wolves, hope Jools doesn't moan too much and make sure Pete has his own fleece before you set off!