Stevenage fan column: FA Cup is special
PUBLISHED: 18:33 02 November 2017 | UPDATED: 18:33 02 November 2017
Read CometSport’s Stevenage fan section as our new columnist Ogs looks forward to Saturday’s FA Cup clash by recalling past glories
After an October horror show that saw Stevenage accumulate just one win out of five, with demoralising reversals in the other four fixtures, the Boro have the opportunity to get back on track with this Saturday’s FA Cup fixture against non-league Nantwich.
Hailing from the Northern Premier League, the Dabbers are three tiers below Stevenage. Saturday represents only the second time in their 133 year history Nantwich have made it as far as the 1st round of the FA Cup.
That’s not to say that they are going to be pushovers. Only two seasons ago they made it as far as the semi-final of the FA Trophy, beating Conference side Dover Athletic in the quarters. Incidentally, they also beat old Boro adversaries Stourbridge during that cup run, so there’s plenty to like about our visitors. They also beat our older adversaries, Kettering Town in the last round of this season’s FA Cup.
Ultimately the Cheshire side lie in the bottom three of the seventh tier – Stevenage should be happy they’re not facing loftier opponents.
But we said that back in 2014 when we were ultimately humbled by, wait for it, a team from the seventh tier, Maidstone.
They may have made full use of the advantage that their 3G pitch gave them, but let’s not forget the bore draw they ground at The Lamex to take us there. So Boro can take nothing for granted.
The FA Cup holds fond memories for Boro fans after clashes with Premiership big boys.
Most memorable of these was the 3-1 defeat of a high-flying Newcastle United during Stevenage’s first season as a league side, on an atmospheric evening at a packed Lamex. Or the time we took a Gareth Bale-inspired Tottenham Hotspur to a replay, as we took the lead at White Hart Lane courtesy of a Joel Byrom penalty.
These are the things that dreams, and apocryphal tales down the pub, are made of.
I won’t, however, dwell on the 4-0 reversal at the hands of Everton on possibly the coldest night I have encountered south of the Arctic Circle as I still haven’t properly thawed out.
But our history in this competition goes further back to when we were the minnows, to taking 6,000 to St Andrews, to watch us battle valiantly against the full 8ft 2ins of Kevin Francis.
Or to the time, most famously, when we refused to doff our caps to Kenny Dalglish – only to get cheated out of the 4th round replay thanks to Alan Shearer and a dodgy linesman at St James’s Park.
But there was also the time that we beat Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road, in probably my favourite ever away game, putting two past 57-year-old O’s keeper Peter Shilton.
And who can forget beating Swindon Town – a team three tiers above us – at the County Ground in the full face of a force 10 hurricane.
There’s undoubtedly something special about the FA Cup.
Something that can be a welcome distraction when in the midst of a rather mundane league campaign.
That’s not to mention the potential pot of gold that attendances and TV money can bring in if we pull the right number out of the velvet bag.
Saturday is potentially our first small step to much bigger things in the competition this season.
Fingers crossed, I’ll see you in the bar up the away end at The Emirates in early January – I’ve seen the prices, so you’re buying.
Follow loyal Boro fan Ogs on Twitter @Ogsy_SFC