The FA Cup is back! The time of year that a lot of football fans look forward to throughout the season, and with that it is time for the Premier League teams to start their journey to Wembley. For me, it was a weekend in West London – I know I was here last weekend for QPR as well but I promise I’ll go somewhere different next time (apart from Chelsea tomorrow)!
This weekend reminds me of my first ever weekend of Doing The 92. The 3rd Round in the 14/15 competition at Cardiff City and Aston Villa to get the ball rolling. Just over a year on and I have got my total from 2 up to 37 which I think is a pretty decent record. I’m certainly happy with it anyway.
Anyway, on to this weekend! I had a busy one planned with Brentford & Chelsea on the cards in addition to Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday night. Brentford was a ground I had been looking at doing for a long, long time as they were a close journey from Bristol, I loved the look of the ground with a terrace which are hard to come by in the Championship – especially with the rules on terraces in the top two divisions. I also will never forget watching the Brentford 0-1 Doncaster Rovers game in 2013 which handed Doncaster promotion & the League One title.
After arranging to do today’s game with fellow groundhopper who was also doing the 92, Matty Holloway, he was slightly higher than me in the standings… 85
(86 after the game) so not a bad record at all! As per normal I got to the ground early and went exploring, first it was to the bookies to put another pointless acca on that I won’t win (I didn’t once again by the way) before heading to the 1st of what I thought would be the 4 famous pubs, one on each corner of the stadium. The Princess Royal. Unfortunately it was a bit dead as was early and Wycombe Wanderers vs. Aston Villa game didn’t seem to be on, so after a quick drink of Diet Coke (I was driving) it was on to the next one, The New Inn – this as much better. Jam packed with football fans, about 10 TV’s all displaying the FA Cup game between Wycombe & Aston Villa. This was the first time where I met Matty and his two friends who he managed to drag all the way down from Scarborough… shout out to the friends who attend games for their mates, good lads Rob & James! After the first 45 minutes of the game on Sky Sports I thought it would be a good time to leave and continue on my journey of Doing The 4… that didn’t really work but oh well. On to pub number 3… Oh wait, it was closed down. Gutted. Back to the New Inn then!
To the ground! After exchanging stories with Matty
about the best games we’d done since starting groundhopping (Watford 2-
0 Middlesbrough, Easter 2015 for me) I was filled excitement for the game, it has to be a 4-3 thriller doesn’t it, surely?
First impressions are normally important to me but with some grounds are located in the centre of housing estates such as Griffin Park I think of it differently. These normally have a lot more
personality and more tradition attached to them. After entering the ground for the first time I was welcomed to something extremely unusual in a football ground… A pancake house?! Odd. Yet wonderful! I did have a problem though, I couldn’t get one – I tend to only take limited cash with me to games so I can only afford a programme (basically a way of stopping me from buying a pasty from each ground!)
So after being astounded at the prospect of a pancake house at a football match it was time to head into the stadium, we had got tickets for the Griffin Park Terrace. As groundhoppers we often feel like we have a duty to go old when possible and terraces are the best way to do that! I was excited to visit Griffin Park because as previously mentioned it is the highest club in the English league system to have a terrace which is a real shame that in today’s day and age there isn’t apparently a safe way to have a terrace… Especially in the top leagues as the atmosphere and risk increases… hmm, I didn’t think so either. Lets all hope for this to be changed as soon as possible!
Pretty good view, eh? We were set to what definitely had the potential to cause an FA Cup upset and that is exactly what it produced! Walsall, currently 3rd in League One and looking extremely good and consistent to challenge for promotion this year up against Brentford, the pre-match favourites who have lost just 2 of their last 10 fixtures and sitting mid-table in the Sky Bet Championship.
Walsall started the game with on the upper foot and were looking dangerous throughout the first 45 minutes and took a deserved lead on 34 minutes through a brilliant goal by Sam Mantom. A superb solo goal from which he began on halfway before curling a wonderful strike past the spearing Brentford goalkeeper David Button. This was a real kick in the teeth for the Bees boss, who had left their League One opposition just 2 months previous to the match.
Brentford continued to be dominated throughout the match which was their punishment for fielding a weakened side. Yet another team to underestimate the FA Cup and therefore missed out on some possible funds and some big opposition in the next round. Walsall went through to Round 4 after their 0-1 win which was well deserved. They were first to every ball, first to every header and once they had won possession, they kept it unlike their opponents.
So at the end of the day, a well deserved victory for the underdogs to the delight of the 1,661 away fans who were excellent throughout. A credit to their club. A trip to the winners of the Huddersfield Town vs. Reading 3rd Round Replay was their reward. I wish them luck and look forward to visiting the famous Bank’s Stadium. Which is certainly mine and I expect a large proportion of Groundhoppers most viewed stadium from the M6. I must of driven past it going on 100 times over the last 13 months and continuously said to myself “I will go there soon”, Honestly, I will go there soon!!!
What Were The Statistics?
Brentford 0-1 Walsall
Attendance – 7,950 (1,661 away fans)
Price of ticket – £10 (Adult)
Programme – £3.00
Car Parking – Free
Miles Travelled – 220
Chelsea vs. Scunthorpe United – 39/92 – 10/01/2016
Plymouth Argyle vs. Northampton Town 40/92 – 12/01/2016