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Sweet FA Cup – The Road To Success May Be Long…

5 years ago
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Four Newcastle fans came up with a win/win idea, to reinvigorate their love affair with the FA Cup, whilst at the same time raising valuable funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Coinciding with the kick-off of the Premier League on Saturday 16 August, the FA Cup also started on that Saturday with the Extra Preliminary round, the first of fourteen stages of the 143 year old famous Cup competition, with the fourteenth obviously being the final at Wembley.

fa cupThe four friends (Wayne Soulsby, Mac Crawford, Pete Hind and Malcolm Larkin) started at Newcastle Benfield v Penrith AFC (whoever won that tie, Malcolm and friends would go and watch in the next round, then the winner of that tie and so on – all the way to the final) to kick off their Cup adventure. They are paying for all of their own travel and costs, with any monies raised going directly to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

The road to success may be long, but if you keep heading in the right direction you will reach your destination someday.

We’ve come to the conclusion we were spoilt, very spoilt. Three home games on the bounce with Newcastle Benfield seem like such a distance away from where we are now.

Standing in Newcastle at 5am on Saturday awaiting a coach to take us to Manchester, then on to Kirkham and Wesham, a place I’d never heard of nor visited before, and a few short months ago don’t even think I’d have planned such a trip!

Myself and Mac travelled down by coach and arrived at Manchester at 9am. Pete decided to be a snob and catch a train five hours later, yet still managed to get onto the same connection as ourselves to get to Kirkham and Wesham. Yes we griefed him for that… sadly we were down to three for this trip, Wayne couldn’t make it.

Me and Mac set about getting lost in Manchester for a few hours before our connection at the train station. We stumbled across the National Football Museum, myself and Mac looked at each other (christ that sounds like Mills and Boon!) and it seemed like destiny, we knew the cup… THAT Cup, would be in there and we wanted a picture of it!

It’s a great place, if you love football you have to visit. It’s a well designed and laid out museum, free of charge as well. On my last blog I mentioned we had visited the Sir Bobby Robson Centre. What that visit did for our drive to complete our mission for the charity, this visit similarly did to urge us on to the end to see that trophy lifted aloft!

The support and communication that we’ve had along the way by all clubs involved has been great, AFC Fylde knocked it out of the park and were amazing leading up to the game. Within a few minutes of arriving we were met by a big smiling face acknowledging who we were and what a pleasure it was to have us there.

We were guided to the main stand where Brian (a member of the AFC Fylde staff) was doing the PA… what a guy, within minutes of standing there he was cracking jokes about the ref’s haircut, I pointed out that may not be acceptable once they make it to the Conference league!

He laughed and commented about being a volunteer… the club announced over the PA who we were and why we were there. Mac spoke to them about losing his sister and dad to cancer and the fact I’d lost my dad too.

At that point I was practically an emotional wreck and then was approached by another member of staff who said they loved what we were doing and that they may be able to offer us two tickets to the Cup Final if we required them. I was stunned by this, Preston is as far away from Newcastle and what we’re doing as anything, yet here we were being told that they would give us two tickets to help us complete our objective.

Football at this level isn’t about big stadiums, big crowds… It’s about community, about a common goal of loving the beautiful game. AFC Fylde is a club with ambition, they are on their way to being a staple in the Football League not too far in the future. They sit at the top of the Northern Conference at the moment and are taking things one day at a time with a new stadium being built and when you look around, everyone is moving in the same direction.

The game itself wasn’t as amazing, Fylde took the lead on the 23rd minute and never really looked in danger. Buxton sit near the top of their league and will hopefully be playing Northern Conference next season. So far this hasn’t really been about the football, more about the people and the little quirks that go on at this level. We were reminded that in the not so distant future we will be but a number on a seat and won’t have the freedom to do what we can right now.

We bumped into a lad called Chris Pratt who started his own FA Cup journey with Buxton and now we are on the same road to Wembley. I wonder how many more of us there are out there…

Enough to start a Mexican Wave I hope ha ha!

On a final note… we joked at the game about the draw. How we would love to have a home tie with the like of Gateshead, Spennymoor or even Blyth! With it being pointed out that we could end up as far as Norfolk.. a team called Kings Lynn Town… wouldn’t happen I joked, would it????

Be very careful what you joke about… Colin Murray did the draw on Talksport… with Spennymoor being drawn first (Picture me and my mate jumping up and down in the background for AFC Fylde to be announced as the away team) we weren’t so lucky.

Next out of the hat was Kings Lynn Town and I looked at my mate and said shut up, just don’t say another word and… AFC Fylde!

Happy days… every game’s an away game ha ha! Lots of planning to do for this one. I’m now going to go cry in my beer!

Please remember we are doing this all in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Everything you donate goes directly to them! We are paying for our own travel and tickets to the games.

You can also donate via Justgiving text, simply text FACP76 followed by £1, £2, £5 or £10 to 70070.

We will be keeping people updated with our journey on www.justgiving.com/sweetfacup and via twitter @sweetfacup

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