Haven’t we met before?

FA Cup, 4th Qualifying Round (replay) – Leatherhead FC v Sutton United FC
Tuesday, 1st November 2011, 7.45pm
Fetcham Grove
Distance 8 miles, Attendance 940
I was never meant to be in Leatherhead. I’d been there before, but work, bloody work had scuppered my beautiful FA Cup ground-hop plans. Under the rules of engagement I should be at a new ground seeing new teams, at Gloucester City v Chelmsford City. It was a little out of the 2 hour catchment area but… Well I didn’t make it, and the tale of cities ended with a 1-0 away win.

Leatherhead and Fetcham Grove, as I’ve said before, is a great place to watch football, so all was not lost. Of all the teams I’d seen on this hop, Leatherhead and Sutton were probably the ones I’d have picked to see again, in an emergency of course. The routine was almost habitual: park, enter, avoid the celebratory balloons (yes I do that at Watford too), drink in The Grove, acknowledging the welcoming locals, through the beer garden, smile at the chicken wire (see previous post), take some photos, say hi to stadium announcer and take “my” seat. This game however was not routine. It was different, brilliant, absorbing. End to end cup action… it only happens with FLOODLIGHTS. Watkins 0-1 (2mins), Andrews penalty 1-1 (32mins), HT, Watkins again 1-2 (77mins), then with the game about to end Hutchings 2-2 (90mins). As the Tanners celebrated on the pitch I was out of my seat screaming with joy.
IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!!!!! Of course when the game went to extra-time it continued in the same vein, though only Sutton found the net on 98mins courtesy of Orilonishe. Add to that a little handbags, the linesman losing his badge, and a couple of red cards for the benches, this game was a great cup tie, start to finish. In true bloke-style I’m running a Top10 of “the long way” games, and this match, Leatherhead v Sutton, is straight in and number 1.
To top the evening off nicely I met the Villa fan again. Naturally his whereabouts are a little easier to predict than mine but there he was, same block in the stands. We chatted about life, transport, and of course the national treasure that is THE FA CUP. Next round he’ll be off to Sutton v Kettering, whilst I’ll be somewhere strange watching lesser-known teams.
Oh, his name is Martin. ‘Til next time…
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