FA Cup, 3rd Qualifying Round (replay) – North Greenford United v East Thurrock United
Tuesday, 18th October 2011, 7.45pm
Berkeley Fields
Distance 15 miles, Attendance 102
All my life I’ve been searching for Middlesex. My Grandparents lived and my mother grew up there. I’ve been there so often I really should know, but really, I don’t. Middlesex – a small place north and west of London, somehow connected to The City, and a compound word to boot. Like the Bermuda Triangle, we sort of know where it should be but wouldn’t know if we’d actually entered or not. Despite the mythical status of the area I do know they have a cricket team, a fine one at that, and because of my love of days of yore that’s the one I like to follow, all be it from afar.
Arthur, my Granddad lived in the land of Middlesex. He was my hero. He took me to my first football match, and he chose my team. I owe him much. So when the replays were decided I had to go there, to North Greenford (another compound word – boy, my son’s English homework really is paying off).
Just like Jason and his Argonauts, I was on a quest. A quest to cross West London in rush hour. Minotaur’s aside, the A312 was chocker. There were hazardous road works and temporary lights to defeat, the Church Road roundabout to circumnavigate, and Google Maps to master.

Pulling up in the pitch black car park, with only a few minutes to spare I rushed through the gloom towards the floodlit glow in the sky but was stopped by a shed. A beautiful maintained wooden shed that doubles for a turnstile. I know, I know, not everyone likes shed, but I do. It’s a manly, retreat thing. Money paid, team sheet (with misprint) photographed, toilet, tea, tweet and to my seat, just as the teams lined up before me. It was at this point that Russell Grant tweeted back to @therealfacup and I, showing his support for Middlesex non-league football. Well he’s a psychic, he should know.
The main stand is situated behind the near goal, dugouts to the right, a shelter to the left and standing room only round the rest of the pitch.

Just like my journey it was a testy affair where opportunities were missed, and tempers were raised both on and off the pitch, causing the Eastbourne Borough FC scout behind me to write furiously throughout. With halftime approaching East Thurrock eventually made the breakthrough. During the interval, I made a breakthrough of my own: Monogrammed Carpet. The first I’ve seen in a clubhouse. As I was finishing off my tea to keep warm, The Blues were running their socks off to try to get back in the game, but neither proved fruitful. East Thurrock’s second was an unstoppable Reiss Gilbey bullet from 20 yards and the third on 73 minutes ended the contest. The first subbed North Greenford player went home as he “was done in!” The next, captain Nick Turner, also went straight for the car park, muttering disapproving comments under his breath. Really he shouldn’t have complained as in the end the better side won. What he should’ve wondered is why the final sub came on wearing a different kit to him, and why Russell Grant’s hadn’t warned them…
This entry was posted in 2011-2012, FA Cup and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Middlesex

  1. Enjoying scanning through your blog. What an impressive schedule! The long way, indeed. Good luck in getting into matches in those tricky later rounds.

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