In this world of football excesses, of multi-million pound transfers and six figure weekly salaries it can sometimes be all too easy to forget those less fortunate. Whilst some supporters live the S*y Sp***s dream reclining at home lapping up the ‘banter’ between Jeff and Kammy in 3D and HD on a plasma screen which takes up one wall of the house, or sit in plush executive suites and multi-tiered stands, there are others who face much more desperate times. This is an appeal on behalf of those fans; the supporters who can only fantasize about prawn sandwiches and stadium tours. Please, this January, take a moment to read this article and consider football’s forgotten paupers; those whose team have drawn Doncaster Rovers in the Cup.
The FA Cup is, as cliché tells us, the greatest cup competition in the world, and so any team entering should expect to be rewarded handsomely with a tie which reflects the tradition, the history and the glamour. This is the Cup of legends and thus the draw for each of it’s rounds should reflect this. The celebrities plucked unfathomably to plunge their hands in the big plastic bowl therefore have a responsibility, a duty, to honour the pretige of the competition and pair every participant with the marquee fixture they deserve against the Arsenals, the Manchester Uniteds, the Chelseas, the Tottenhams, the Barcelonas, the Real Madrids, and the LA Galaxys of this world.
Sadly, in these difficult economic times, not even the FA Cup, with its unrivalled global tradition of Abide With Me, policemen on White Horses, and the bloke whose shirt didn’t quite fit who scored that long-range goal in the mud during a Parka jacket convention, can provide enough big clubs and glamour ties to go round. And so some clubs and their loyal supporters have been forced to accept what critics have labelled ‘crap draws’ and somehow find a way to make do with fixtures against TheLikesOfDoncaster Rovers
For supporters whos clubs who have had the misfortune to be paired with Rovers in the FA Cup in recent years, the draw has caused much personal distress; it’s the football equivalent of Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights. A huge build up, framed by excitement and the weighty expectation of great things to come, only for the eventual heartbreaking reality. An experience of crushing disappointment, resentment and a feeling this has only been done in order to offend.
It is of course natural to think, well this could never happen to me, but the phenomenon of ‘crap draws’ is ncreasing with each year TheLikesOfDoncaster remain in the second tier. The tragedy has a human face, as shown by the suffering caused to the supporters of Brentford after they were drawn against Rovers in the 3rd round just a year ago. Here are the personal tweeted reactions of their fans, though for their self respect we have preserved the anonimity;
“Doncaster… what a let down”
“We got Doncaster, magic of the FA Cup my arse”
“Doncaster at home, in my best FA Cup dreams that never happened”
“Hmmm… hard to get excited by Doncaster Rovers in the FA Cup”
“I don’t want to play Doncaster Rovers. I demand they redo the draw!”
“Doncaster. F**king Doncaster. F**k off FA”
‘Crap draws’ are sadly no longer simply a domestic problem, which can be swept under the carpet. The issue has now gone international, edging over the border into Wales as the chilling headline below reflects;
Again, this cruel fate brought Twitter condemnation from both Welsh fans “As for the FA Cup – Swans and Cardiff get crap draws. Cardiff away to Doncaster if they reach rd 4” and Stoke City supporters; “Donny or Wanky Wanderers away….. Crap draw!!!” As the risk of drawing TheLikesOfDoncaster in the latter rounds of the FA Cup continues, it really is high time the powers that be took notice of this undue suffering.
So please, this month, as you watch Blackburn hoof balls into the opposition penalty area before queueing for an overpriced undercooked burger, remember those less fortunate than yourself. And please do all you can to bring this shocking miscarriage of justice to the attention of those at the top of the game. Supporters do not follow their clubs simply out of loyalty, they do so for a chance to rake in the money from a 3rd or 4th round cup defeat in a big stadium with large swathes of empty seats in the home ends. And it’s high time the FA acknowledged this. Thank you for your time.