The Football Association Challenge Cup. The oldest and most famous knock out competition in the world. Fans of all clubs have special memories of this famous old beast. Be it giant killings such as Hereford United v Newcastle in 1970, or Colchester’s famous win over Leeds United in 1972 through to Ryan Giggs’ fantastic goal v Arsenal in the 1999 semi final replay. Every club has its memories.
Unfortunately for myself my memories of Lincoln City are rather bleaker. As a club we are more often than not the side that gets beaten by lower ranked opposition, rather than doing a spot of giant killing ourselves. Since I have been following the Imps we have graced the 3rd round just three times; Crystal Palace away (1994/95), Sunderland home (98/99), and most recently our trip to Bolton Wanderers in 09/10.
However my most vivid FA cup memories are much more sombre affairs. Taking two games to scramble past Gainsborough Trinity in 1997/98 (after being totally outplayed in the first match) landed us with a home tie against Emley. A 97th minute equaliser from Terry Flemming earned us a replay and I remember listening in on the radio for updates from Huddersfield in the replay. The Imps went 2-0 up and were all set for a money spinning 3rd round tie at West Ham. We then fell 2-3 down, got it back to 3-3 only to lose on penalties. Other low points in the Cup include a keeper howler in the last minute to give then non league side Dagenham and Redbridge a 1-0 win at Sincil Bank in 2000/01. And more recently losing to Kettering Town in a replay at home under Jacko (whatever happened to them?) Not to forget last year’s two dreadful performances against Alfreton town. As a rule of the thumb for Lincoln, the FA in FA cup really means the fook all cup.
Just like kids on a school trip, Baz and I made a mad dash to the back row of the stand. Felice had been shopping at Toys R Us and joined us later although he seemed disappointed that the Lego Helicopter that he has had his eye on for the last couple of weeks wasn’t in stock. Chin up mate I am sure Santa will bring you one for Christmas.
On the pitch however, Halifax were in no mood to give out any presents to the Imps. Although they set up in a quite defensive formation they looked to break out wherever possible and had the better chances in the first half. They were aided by some wayward passes from Lincoln who were very sloppy and failed to move the ball around quick enough. Jamie Taylor has been the main man for goals this season however, lumping high balls up to somebody who is about 5’5” isn’t going to yield much success against three big centre halves. He was supported by Conner Robinson but he too was getting few chances from the Halifax backline. Adam Smith on the wing put in plenty of effort but often lost the ball when trying to beat one man too many. For me it was pretty obvious what the pattern of the game was and it looked odds on that we would all be making our merry way over to West Yorkshire on Tuesday evening for a replay. As the first half drew to a close the boos in the crowd grew louder and left the natives wondering just how we had managed to slam four past Wrexham on their own turf last weekend.
So there we are. Our dreadful record in the FA Cup continues. Hopefully we will be at Halifax Tuesday evening and as a special incentive Baz has offered to make a trifle for us to consume en route. This is what football is all about my friends. Should we somehow find a way past our opponents Tuesday evening, another football powerhouse awaits us in the first round proper. Walsall at home is the prize for the victors.
Magic of the cup my arse.