The One Where They All Came Out Of The Woodwork

gresley mascot elvis gresley
Elvis Gresley. Truly.
It occurs to me as I write more of these entries, that the chances of people giving a rats ass about my opinion of the game are fairly slim. That, coupled with the fact that I often bore myself when writing them, means that the days of copious note-making have been eschewed, in place of, well, not very much, in truth. Less structure, if such a thing were possible.

So, the FA Vase eh? The FA Cup for clubs who aren't likely to ever win the FA Trophy. As a fan, it's one of those competitions that you could not care less about. And then, suddenly, you're playing at home, in the quarter finals, and Wembley is almost within touching distance.

broken sign
Blankety Blank
As a side issue, have you been to Wembley recently? Sure the stadium is nice enough, if you like soulless corporate hellholes. But Wembley High Street? Sheesh. They should have spent the money just levelling that. I'm aware that this may make me sound like Nick Griffin, and that isn't my intention. If you haven't been, but you have experienced a British Seaside town's highstreet, you're halfway there. Just take away the glamour.

But I digress. I'd had today down for Willenhall v Chasetown, but the sexy allure of an afternoon in South Derbyshire / East Staffs was too much. After all, it's the glamour of the Cup.

There is no glamour to be found at Gresley.

gresley fc
There were a couple more of them by the time kick off came.
In another life I have had some good times, and some less good, down at The Moat. Others may speak less highly of their encounters with Gresley, but all I know is that my experience of the people there has been nothing less than top drawer, and it is a shame that their name isn't always well respected.
smoke bomb

Witness a pre-game presentation saw the Supporters Club providing a cheque for £2000 (two THOUSAND pounds) to the football club, a continuation of the good relationship that has been forged between the two parties in the aftermath of years of mismanagement. Out of the phoenix and all that. And this on the day that FCUM held a rally focusing on football club debt.

george paris whitehawk boss
George Paris, the Golden Retriever years
Today's visitors in the last eight were Whitehawk., Which sounds a bit like "shitehawk", and that pleases me no end. They'd travelled up from Brighton en masse. If, by en masse, you mean in a Bedford Rascal. They sit atop the Sussex County League, with games in hand on such luminaries as St Francis Rangers, who sound like a kids team, and Mile Oak, who sound like a pub.

There's not much too special about Whitehawk. The kit is fairly unimaginative, the following tiny, and their badge reminiscent of Crystal Palace's. They do, however, have George Paris as their manager. Fans of rubbish top flight players of the late-80's and early-90's will read this name and be transported in to a heady reverie no doubt. Well, dear reader, I am here to tell you he has dined well on your memories.

pic of football player
And he has assembled a side that on today's showing are a good bet for the silverware (he says with absolutely no knowledge of the other contenders). Big, combative and technically astute, they outclassed Gresley in every area. There was pace down both flanks, a stout defensive line, and upfront a bruiser of a centre forward who knew how to out-muscle his markers on the brink of the laws of the game.

But Gresley were not without their heroes. The midfield pairing were my stand-out players, and had they had equal quality around them, things could have been different. For Whitehawk, the right winger was a constant torment to the home left back, so much so that he was substituted by a more attack-minded full back. Which lead to the winger moving upfront and causing even more havoc. Some you win.

There should be video footage of Gresley's equaliser coming in hereabouts, but technical difficulties have meant I am thus far unable to upload it. Apologies. If I get it sorted, I'll ammend this post, but by then I imagine you'll all have lost interest.

pic of groundhopper
Dressed for success
I can't let this report end without giving mention to the number of groundhoppers present. At times it seemed like a convention of the needy and the unwell. I know I can't mock, as I am one of them these days. But I think it is fair to say that the crowd of 800+ was swelled as much by interested locals, who had opted for some cup drama over the doubtless attraction of Rotherham being down the road at Burton, as it was by the great and the unwashed of the ground-hopping world. Wall charts and spread sheets up and down the country must today be seeing unprecedented action.
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