Match Of The Week Meets The FA Cup: Ascot United 1-2 Wembley

The story of how this evening’s match between Ascot United and Wembley FC has come to be shown live via the medium of Facebook thanks to the tournament’s sponsors, Budweiser, has, it could well be argued, had a positive effect for all concerned. The Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup – and, in turn, the tournament itself – has received a shot of publicity for a stage of the competition that usually receives next to none. The sponsors, meanwhile, have aligned themselves with what even the purest of purists might call “The romance of the Cup”, and the match itself, with local interest having been piqued by the hullaballoo surrounding it, will now be played in front of a crowd of at least ten times the size of what might have been expected. This last point is, perhaps, the most significant. Ascot United play in the Hellenic League, but they run a draw-dropping fifty-five teams of all ages, and have seven hundred and fifty registered players. This labyrinthine organisation is run by just over one hundred volunteers, of whom eighty have FA coaching certificates. This is grassroots football at its rootsiest. Furthermore, it’s an idiosyncratic venue for a football match. One could be tempted to look at the ground name of Ascot Racecourse and wonder whether this is some sort of pun but, sure enough, there is the...

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