Posted by: musinganorak | August 26, 2010

The Road To Wembley Starts Tonight

Contrary to popular belief the FA Cup doesn’t start on the first Saturday in January, that just happens to be when the Premier League and Championship sides enter the competition. Nor does it start in November, that is merely League 1 and League 2 sides entering the fray. The FA Cup actually starts in mid-August with the Extra Preliminary Qualifying Round. There are 4 ties on the Friday night of the first weekend of the competition meaning that 4 teams will have finished their FA Cup campaign before a single ball has been kicked in the new Premier League season!

Teams entering at this stage, and there are 402 of them, will have to win 6 ties to even get to the First Round Proper, or put another way, the same number of wins that a Premier League side has to manage to win the competition.

I am heading to the South coast for the Friday night fixture between Totton & Eling and Bemerton Heath Harlequins, two teams who play in the Wessex League Premier Division. Totton are due to move to a new ground in early September so this is pretty much my last chance to pay a visit to the current ground. Unfortunately the work on turning the football ground in to an extension of the adjacent cricket club is well under way and the stands have already been demolished leaving just a railed pitch.

As is often the case in ties between teams from the same league it was quite a close affair with neither side having any real chances in the first half. The lack of on-field action didn’t deter the quite sizeable away following from berating the match officials at every opportunity.

This highlights one of the things I like best about being a neutral at games, the blinkered views shown by supporters of one side or the other. Every tackle against their players is an out and out assault whereas identical tackles by their players are perfectly legitimate. When you take away this club bias and watch a game as a neutral you really appreciate what a difficult task the officials have, and what a good job, on the whole, they do. What also never ceases to amaze me is the lack of knowledge of the basic laws of the game by some supporters, and, more worryingly, by some club officials.

During the second half the home team gradually take control and in the end run out comfortable 2-0 victors. Despite what the visiting supporters feel the referee has had a relatively good game this evening. Totton get one step closer to a Wembley final and will host Shortwood United in the Preliminary Qualifying Round. Bemerton, though, will have to wait until next season for another stab at glory.

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