When I was small my dad used to take me to Highbury. A trip to Arsenal had a distinct sense of occasion – the journey in by train, the opulent Art Deco stadium, the serif font in the programme with its grainy black and white pictures of the previous Wednesday’s UEFA Cup game. I remember Ipswich wearing their away kit during a 4-1 defeat thinking it was so exotic. I can picture the sea of flat caps and smell the woodbines now, a classic image of the 30’s. Which is odd, because it was 1978.
When we drew Arsenal in 2003, I woke up way too early in eager excitement of recreating those great pilgrimages. I was seated three rows from the front, knackered and took little joy from the game beyond the merciless heckling of the hapless Franny Jeffers.
Oddly, I had a similar sense of occasion waking up before Saturday’s game against Thurrock. The FA Cup is a journey to the sun so it seems fitting that the game coincided with the season’s first truly wintery day. Like sperm racing to impregnate an egg; each team battles to be the one to present itself to the summer as the one true winner.
And Saturday was like being at the bell-end of the competition; starting a beautiful journey with something so ugly that it should be kept hidden. As much as Thurrock will talk about how they gave us a good game, this was a calculated and clinical kill.
For all the talk of Swindon, Wycombe, Leeds or Oxford City, being drawn against Yeovil at home is a pretty good for us. Whilst providing a challenge, it should allow us to keep our feet on the ground.