I've used the words "sad" and "inane" on more than one occasion in this blog about my FA Cup journey from Chertsey Town to (hopefully) Wembley. In the half dozen or so interviews I have done to date, I repeatedly used those descriptions. I'll be doing another interview tomorrow morning - talkSPORT radio this time - and I know, without even thinking about it, I will use one or both of those words.
Many of you have been very kind in response. "It's not sad at all, it's a pretty good idea" is a well worn retort. I know you mean well, and I appreciate everyone's support. But occasionally, the tone of the comment betrays the truth. "What a great thing to do!" is sometimes accompanied with that slight inflexion that doesn't quite sit comfortably with what is being said. You know, the "of course your bum doesn't look big in that" type of comment.
Anyway, ahead of the game tomorrow, I would just like to point out there are a few of us out there. I am not alone.
The "Road to Wembley" concept is nothing new. One of the best ever football books "Tividale to Wembley" charted the journey of Brian James in the 1976/77 season as he started with his local team Tividale. He ended up at the Liverpool v Manchester United final at Wembley. This sowed the seed for many, and it is probably fair to say that someone, somewhere, has tried to do this most seasons since.
I'm not the only one attempting it this season; I have been made aware of several other people doing the same thing. Phoebe in the Midlands started with Cradley Town v Gedling Town in the Extra Preliminary Round back in August and has taken in games at Meir KA, Stamford, Nuneaton Borough and eventually Chasetown. If Phoebe is still going we should be at the same Cardiff game tomorrow. Further North, Paul Kirkwood started with Guisborough Town. I believe Paul has done this a few times, but takes it only as far as the non-league clubs as that is where his passion lies. His journey this season ended with Harrogate Railway's home defeat to Mansfield in December's Second Round tie. Another guy who loves the FA Cup, his blog is well worth a read.
There are three guys who started out with Dulwich Hamlet, another small group who followed Crawley Town from their entry into the competition and the "Did He Really Mean It?" mates who also ended up with Chasetown. I'm not sure how many of these are still going, but the one thing we have in common is that we all share the love of the competition enough to at least give it a damn good go.
I have also been asked to give a mention to John Lovell who did the same thing last year (managed to go all the way, so to speak) and is having a go at the FA Trophy this season. John began with Grantham Town and is now with Burton Albion after their narrow win over Histon in the last round. John is also documenting his journey in a blog.
Many people also do a similar journey in the FA Vase where the smaller teams play out their dreams to reach Wembley and this is a popular venture for the fans of the non-league game.
There will be a few reading this that have done the "Road to Wembley" in seasons gone by or are in the middle of a run this season. If you are doing one this season, our roads will meet if they haven't already. I hope you manage to keep it going and we'll hopefully arrive at Wembley in May.
With my mind on Cardiff tomorrow, Wembley stills feels an awfully long way off.