“The Beast from the East” Nicolai Valuev was not the only Goliath slayed at the weekend, reports Adam Lord.
David Haye’s victory, making him the first British World Heavyweight Champion since Lennox Lewis in 2003, came on the same weekend as the FA Cup First Round.
Bath City, Staines Town, Kettering and Northwich Victoria made sure that the FA Cup continues to retain its magic by knocking out far loftier opponents.
Northwich’s victory came with a goal from 18 year-old Wayne Riley ten minutes from time, in a game that the non-leaguers dominated against a once mighty Charlton Athletic.
FA Cup fairytales are sure to contain two things. Firstly, we are informed of the semi-pro hero’s day job for after all, they are only part-timers.
As soon as Riley put the ball past stand in Charlton goalkeeper Darren Randolph, jubilant ITV commentators told the watching public that he was a part-time barman. Riley works at the Legh arms in Adlington, near Bolton.
His team did not act like David, and Charlton not like Goliath, as the Chesire side dominated the game with direct football full of desire, but Wayne certainly became the David of this piece.
Another part of every FA Cup fable is the one thing that makes our beautiful game slightly uglier, money.
Football is a business, and high ticket prices, wages and foreign ownership are under constant scrutiny.
This is one occasion however, when we do not begrudge teams earning, in the case of lower league teams, some well needed cash.
Last weekend’s winners get £18,000 as a reward for their success. It isn’t just the non-league clubs that will be celebrating either, teams such as Bournemouth, who despite their current success on the field are still trying to emerge from a dark recent financial past.
First round weekend might be the best weekend of the football season. Although I’m sure the opening day might have something to say about that.
FA Cup final day like the opening day would certainly argue its corner, with both occasions always miraculously always bathed in sunshine, despite the unpredictable British climate.
The next round of the cup offers the weekend’s winners a shot at another great day of the football season. The FA Cup third round, when those who have survived that far, have a chance to do some real giant-killing, against those from what must seem a different stratosphere. Chelsea, Manchester United and co.
FA Cup Second Round (selected):
Bath City vs Forest Green/Mansfield
Kettering vs Leeds United
Northwich Victoria vs Lincoln City
Staines Town vs Milwall