Throughout this season Tony 1 Leg and Johnny the Rhino have embarked on their own personal “Road to Wembley”. They’ve been blogging throughout and you can read all about their adventures right here on The Football Pubcast website. This week takes us all the way up to the 4th Round Proper…
I left you last time with us planning our trip to Milton Keynes for our first overnighter of the season. Nantwich Town had been drawn away to the Dons in the 1st round proper for the first time in their history and we were planning a bender just in case we witnessed a cup upset.
The week building up to the game I get the fantastic news that we have been picked from thousands of entries to be on an FA panel that nominates a player of the round from each FA Cup weekend. My girlfriend had entered us into this Facebook competition & hadn’t told me! Also on the panel are Jim Munro from The Sun, Nigel Adderley from BBC Radio 5 Live, David Barber The FA’s historian & Jim Rosenthal from ITV. In addition to being on this panel, and more importantly, we get 2 tickets with full hospitality from Budweiser to the cup final with entry to the FA club lounge! Me & the Rhino in with the prawn sandwich brigade on free beer!
We took full advantage of our new found power & nominated 16y old George Williams who came on for the last 10 minutes in the Dons v Nantwich game. Within 2 minutes of being on the field he got a yellow card for a forearm smash on Dabbers centre half Mat Bailey then with the last kick of the game he rounded the keeper to net the Dons 6th & final goal. We could sense something at the time that this was a special goal by the reaction of the crowd and after talking to a few of the fans after the game we got the full story of this up & coming young school boy. We spent the rest of the night in Milton Keynes & were surprised by how friendly the Dons fans were as we had been told nobody likes them!
Step 8 for us was the Dons away at Barnet FC for the 2nd round proper and another overnight trip for us. Still feeling quite proud of winning a competition that I hadn’t even entered I sent Barnet an email telling them who we were & why we were coming. They sent me an email back telling me we would be given admission & access to the press room after the game as guests of the club helping us on our quest! By the time match day came around I was accumulating Dons fans by the shed load & we met a few of them before the game in the pub.
We sit in the press area for the first half but it was very tight & a couple of big lads like us didn’t fit that well so we moved round to the open air stand at Underhill for the second 45. The game was a comfortable 3-1 win for the Dons but it was all about the press room afterwards for us. Lawrie Sanchez must of had the same questions fired at him for more than 20 years about the 88 cup final & there we were ready to ask him about ‘that goal’ once again! The Rhino spotting this then quite brilliantly changed the question at the very last second… “Lawrie, in the 88 final when you were 33/1 underdogs against a mighty Liverpool team, can you tell me where you were stood when Dave Beasant saved the penalty?” a great ice breaker that even had Sanchez laughing.
Step 9, the big boys are in the hat for what’s probably the best round of the FA Cup. The 3rd round is infamous for throwing up minnows against giants & we were hoping for just such a draw, QPR at home for the Dons, not a giant killing as such but definitely a cup upset with a Prem team at StadiumMK. Even though me & the big fella are avid Droylsden FC fans in Manchester, the MK Dons had by this time adopted us as their Northern branch of their support and we were told that we are now Droyls-DON fans! Mentioning this and how well Barnet had looked after us in an email to MK, we were once again on the invite list with access to the media room.
We very nearly got the upset we wanted as well, with 2 minutes left & QPR down to 10 men when Faurlin went off injured after all 3 subs had been used, there was a crazy defensive mix-up and Helguson slotted the equaliser home. 1-1 at full time and our first replay of the tour would be at Loftus Rd on a Tuesday night. We went off to the press room and were looking forward to what Neil Warnock would have to say after his team had got out of jail but he never showed! (obvious now lol) Karl Robinson was there of course & once again took time out for a chat with us as he had done at Barnet when he told us about his brother playing for Droylsden.
Step 10, nearly up to speed now. The 3rd Round replay, QPR v MK Dons. Mark Hughes is now in charge of the R’s and after a little persuading we’re in the press box courtesy of QPR and we’re told we can ask Sparky 1 question after the game at the press conference. Not knowing what to ask the guy we thought it would be a good idea to wait for the result on the night before deciding on what to ask but I was leaving it to the Rhino anyway. During the night we meet a couple of people who want to have a photo with us, the first was a guy called Bob.
After a goalless first half we wanted this to go all the way to penalties! Well if you’re going to do a replay you might as well make the most of it but Daniel Gabbidon dashed this idea when his headed goal turned out to be QPR’s winner with 20 minutes left. Knowing that Chelsea would be the next opponents at home for the R’s we’re told that tickets will be impossible to get hold of but we’re off to the press room & hopefully I will find Ian, the guy who sorted us out with the hospitality for this game & he would be able to do the same for the Chelsea game. We didn’t find him but we did find another bloke called Ian who wanted his picture taken with the Rhino!
Once inside the press room all the real journo’s were asking all the real questions and I was worried about my beer monster friend asking some stupid question about the xbox or PS3! We bid farewell to, now mate of ours, Karl Robinson after his interview & he thanked us for our support and wished us good luck for the rest of the journey, next up Sparky. All the usual questions were being fired at him about plans for the future & possible transfers coming in and the Rhino was poised ready to strike. I had no need to be worried in the end because the big man had the perfect question & when prompted asked… “Yeah, Mark.. with the recent return of Thierry Henry & Paul Scholes… I was wondering if you still had your boots & if they still fit?” Hughes cracked a half smile and told us he still had his boots but they were very dusty!
So that’s more or less it, a quick round up of 8 monster blogs from 1 Leg On The Cup. Our next game was QPR at home to Chelsea & i’m sending Jim the full blog for that game over the weekend with a bit more about what a couple of Northern Monkeys get up to before & after the game. So we’ll be up to date before the 5th round game on the 18th Feb…. worth a read? I think so…. worth writing a book about? lol Anyone know of someone who will ????