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Friday, 26 November 2010

What does Sunday's Cup Draw hold for us?

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Rewind to 29th November 2009. Eyes glued to TV sets, ears pinned to radio's, fingers rapidly pressing F5 on keyboards. It was the weekend of the 3rd Round Draw for the F.A Cup, to be played the 2nd and 3rd of January 2010. We'd just drawn 1-1 with Kettering away from home, avoiding another 'Histon', yet still not clear of embarrassment. We'd gruelled and grafted in the mud, not being that bad, but it's typical Leeds. Nothing can go your way, regardless of performance. Anyway, a replay at Elland Road beckoned which we'd surely win easily and go on to face whoever we were drawn. Scum, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal would all be nice I told myself. Just not another year of Swindon at home or Brighton away, we prayed. Not another fixture we'd played just 2 weeks ago, please. I sat with my mug of tea on my right, my Sunday Dinner on my left. Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal, all drawn out within the first 15 ties. At this point, it was just a matter of time before Scum were drawn away against Tranmere or similar. Team after team drawn, until there were 6 or 7 teams drawn. Heart beating faster, hope in my head, realisation coming closer. 4 teams left : Leeds United/Kettering, Scum, Accrington Stanley/Barnet, Gillingham. Remember that point about not another league fixture in the cup? Please not Gillingham, I prayed, on the edge of my seat. "Accrington Stanley or Barnet will play..." seconds seemed like hours, like days, shouting at the box, screaming 'GILLINGHAM, PLEASE GILLINGHAM'. God knows what the neighbours thought. Steve Redgrave's hand reached in and it all seemed to happen in slow motion. He grasped the ball and I was about 20 centimetres away from the TV at this point on my knees, hands grasped, eyes fixated. He looked at the ball and slightly chuckled. It couldn't be, surely?

"...Will play Gillingham at home." Screams, celebrations, dances, obscenities were all exchanged within 10 seconds. 15 phones calls recieved in as many minutes, it was as if we'd won the bleeding thing. Plans put in place already, an early birthday present if we did the 'impossible'. Scum. Away. Some say the magic of the FA Cup has gone, pushed aside by Murdoch and co., but moments like that come once in a lifetime. We overcame Kettering quite easily in 15 minutes after 90 minutes of slightly struggling and it kicked in. Scum, afuckingway. And the rest of course, shall be repeated on January the 3rd 2011 in a special anniversary post.

But enough of that. What about January 2nd/3rd 2011? What does it hold for Leeds United? Another Premier League giantkilling tie? Another visit to a Salmonella ridden ground? Another lovely return to the police forces of Carlisle? Oh wait, just mentioned that. After last years heroics, anything is possible. The magic of the FA Cup still shines bright, waiting to come out behind the covers of the dark and dingy corporate values of Football today.
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