We’ll be back a little later on today with a report on the match between Paulton Rovers and Norwich City. In the meantime, however, The First Round of The FA Cup started yesterday evening with three matches. The remainder, of course, are to be played over the next three days. One of the traditions of The FA Cup is the press sending one of their hacks – who is probably none too happy at not being to assigned to a Premier League match – to write a few words about the smaller clubs that are taking their spot in the limelight. Obviously it is highly time-consuming to have to trawl through in search all of these articles, so we thought that it would be a good idea to bring together what everyone else is saying about it.
The Guardian and The Independent have both gone with the “Go West” option, and have reports from Paulton ahead of their match against Norwich City. The Sun has a round-up of the weekend’s matches, but leads with Paul Ince’s Franchise and their match against Macclesfield Town, the club he left for them. Ah, the romance of the cup. There’s better stuff in The Daily Mail, of all places, with a preview of AFC Wimbledon’s trip to Millwall on Monday night and a lengthy interview with their manager Terry Brown, and The Daily Star’s piece about the match between Wealdstone and Rotherham United doesn’t carry much detail, choosing to focus instead on the part-time status of the club.
The pick of a varied bunch, however, comes from The Times, who have selected the match between AFC Telford United and Lincoln City. Whilst the Wimbledon story has been told elsewhere many times before, the success of the supporters trust at Telford after the club went into liquidation in 2004 has been rather overlooked in the media, a success that is best summed up by their crowds – an average of over 1,600 in the Blue Square North last season, figures which demonstrate the solid links that the club has built with its local community. Could there be any truer statement at this point in time than the closing comment made by their chair, Lee Carter? “Our ethos is to live off what we generate. Directors are custodians of a football club. We’ve got to make sure there’s a thriving football club to pass on to the next generation”. The Times also features reports from Stourbridge (who have a derby match against Walsall) and Wealdstone, picking up on another story for our times – the club’s almost twenty year long search for a home of their own, which finally ended last year.
Elsewhere in the media, the interest is more qualified, although the ITV Football site has a well-written preview of all of the matches and the BBC’s coverage is, as one would expect, extensive, with reports from Stourbridge, Tooting & Mitcham United (who travel to play Stockport County) and Gateshead, who entertain Brentford. There are plenty of other reports on the BBC site, which will also be normally be the first port of call for most people that are unable to get to a match this afternoon but are still looking for the latest scores. The less said about the two page long Sky Sports preview, the better. Finally, the When Saturday Comes website features an impassioned eulogy to the early stages of the competition from a supporter of Walsall, one of the numerous clubs that could go from being “giants” to slain to being “minnows”, out to take a scalp in the space of just two matches.