The Strangest Cup Run Of The Year

By on Dec 17, 2008 in Latest | 3 comments

As noted on here last night, Blyth Spartans made it a record eight non-league clubs in the Third Round of this year’s FA Cup with their 1-0 win against AFC Bournemouth at Croft Park last night. That number could yet increase, considering that Droylsden have to replay their FA Cup match against Chesterfield after last night’s match against them was abandoned with eighteen minutes still to play because of floodlight failure. Last night’s events mark another chapter in what is rapidly becoming one of the strangest FA Cup runs of all time, as Droylsden simply refuse to be eliminated from this year’s competition. It all started fairly benignly for them, with wins over Bradford (Park Avenue), Gateshead and Belper Town seeing them through to the First Round Proper. Then, all hell broke loose.

They were drawn to play Darlington away in the First Round. The first match at The Darlington Arena passed off relatively peacefully and ended in a 0-0 draw, although the match was marred by ugly racist chanting from Darlington supporters aimed at Droylsden’s substitute goalkeeper Kyle Clancey, a teenager that had come on to replace Droylsden’s regular goalkeeper, who had been injured after just twenty minutes. The replay, at Droylsden’s Butchers Arms stadium, was similarly blighted by monkey chanting by Darlington supporters. Reports from home supporters noted Darlington supporters in a pub near the ground before the match looking to cause trouble. The irony was that it was they that were ejected by home stewards, whereupon they were met by the very group of non-match attending youths that they had been annoying a couple of hours earlier and were taught a lesson about picking on the wrong people. On the pitch, Neil Prince’s cross was converted by Matthew Tipton for the only goal of the match, though proceedings were held up for thirty-five minutes when Darlington’s Liam Hatch suffered a serious injury (which was believed to be a broken neck but, thankfully,  turned out not to be).

The Second Round draw pitted them against Chesterfield, again away from home. The first match was played in appallingly foggy conditions at Chesterfield’s Saltergate, and they took the lead with a goal from Carl Lamb after thirty-five minutes. However, conditions continued to deteriorate and the referee abandoned the match at half-time, leading to a furious (and potentially slanderous) response from the Droylsden manager, Dave Pace: “If it had been the other way round and Chesterfield were winning I don’t think it would have been called off. But I suppose the referee has got assessors to satisfy and other things like that”. The re-match provoked even more controversy as the first match. This time it was Droylsden’s turn to have to investigate allegations of racism, this time towards Chesterfield’s Kevin Austin, but this wasn’t all. After Droylsden put the ball out of play, Chesterfield’s Jack Lester accidentally lobbed the ball into the net, starting off a mass brawl on the pitch and furious scenes on the touchline. When everybody had eventually calmed down, Chesterfield allowed Droylsden to walk the ball in their net to cancel out the “goal”. The match finished 2-2, and it was all back to The Butchers Arms for a replay.

You could be forgiven for thinking that this was enough excitement for everybody confirmed and, indeed, it looked as if it was going to be a let down for the non-league watchers amongst us as Chesterfield raced into a 2-0 lead at half-time. However, with eighteen minutes left the play, the floodlights went out, couldn’t be resuscitated, meaning that they will have to go through it all yet again, this time on Tuesday night at The Butchers Arms. It used to be convention that referees could call time after seventy-five minutes (at their own discretion) and award a result, but this wasn’t made by the referee on this occasion. Perhaps predictably, Chesterfield supporters are absolutely furious. This, of course, was the team that was arguably cheated out a place in the 1997 FA Cup Final when, having taken a 2-1 lead against Middlesbrough in the semi-final at Old Trafford, a shot that clearly bounced over the line was disallowed which might have made them the first ever team from the bottom two divisions to make the FA Cup final.

Rumours are flying that this was too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence and, with Ipswich Town facing the winners, a split of crowd money and prize money could be worth up to £100,000 to the winners of this match – a tidy sum for either club. However, without any concrete evidence that it was deliberate, it would be misleading and unfair to assume that this floodlight failure was an unfortunately timed accident. For the watching neutral, such bizarre goings-on only add to the lustre of a unique competition. Chesterfield will simply have to head back to Droylsden next week and beat them there. Some might say that, considering that there are two divisions between the two clubs, they should have done this in the first match.

The controversial accidental goal from the second of the three attempts that Chesterfield and Droylsden have played to decide who goes through to the Third Round of the FA Cup can be seen here.

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    3 Comments

  1. 200%: I’ve been one of the first to criticise our fans when there has been racist abuse this year (it was awful at the Bradford game, which was televised) but I didn’t notice anything against Droylsden at home. What went on at the away game, as I understand it, doesn’t quite fit what you’ve put here: my best mate, who writes for WSC periodically and is reasonably capable of being non-partisan, said that a few Darlo fans got kicked shitless with baseball bats. The word on our (admittedly partisan) message board has been that a few Darlo fans had glasses thrown at them in a pub before the game because they laughed when asked if we had ‘brought a firm’ and said, reasonably, that it was a bit passe to be talking along those lines! We certainly aren’t blameless, and I’ve seen reprehensible behaviour from our fans on numerous occasions, but there is at least equal blame to be apportioned here.

    I hope this doesn’t sound too pissy, because I’ve been a long-term reader here and I think what you do is fantastic. I just think another side of the story deserves to be heard. Incidentally, the majority of the Droylsden fans were fantastic when they came up to Darlington, and this shouldn’t be taken as a slur against them.

    Best,

    Joe

    Joe

    December 18, 2008

  2. It’s entirely fair of you to put the other side of the story, Joe.

    admin

    December 19, 2008

  3. Both fairly put. And I am really carrying on the tie itself, if not the argument on race. Although as I understand it DRoylsden fans were twice reprimanded for making the same gestures as the Darlo fans.

    As a Chesterfield fan that attended both away fixtures to Droylsden I will say this; there will be problems at that ground (BUtcher’s Arms) soon enough. For both fixtures, especially the second one, baring in mind the needle involved, the policing was laughable. I could count half a dozen OB in the ground, and if Chesterfield had turned up with a slightly different entourage, we could have seen a real mess on what I am sure Droyslden thought was to be their big day.

    ON the fixture itself, I hate to sound bitter, but if Droylsden go out today, they got their just desserts, as I am sure every football fan or human being that come up against their manager; Dave Pace, will agree, they would wish Droyslden all the best if it wasn’t for the vermin that owns and picks their team. He really is an embarrassment to their club and with role models like that there is no wonder they have a chavvy following, spitting at linesmen, chanting racism bringing down the respect of their real fans, who largely deserve a better cred.

    ON the trouble, other than right outside the away end, the police were hardly going to prevent the same group of picking people off down dark roads with bats and whatever else they could get their hands on, as they attempted with normal Chesterfield fans on both occasions.

    A real comedy tie where it looks like Chesterfield will triumph, after playing so poorly, I personally hope we get our opportunity to play them again in future, bring a real 11 that put on a perfomance and good following who do the same. RIP Dave Pace, the majority of the country genuninely hope you find that bridge.

    Jimbo

    December 29, 2008

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