It’s been a big week in the Fuller household. On Wednesday CMF celebrated her birthday and as one of her presents I agreed to take her (and the Littlest Fullers) out for the day. Conveniently, due to their inept performance in the FA Cup back in September at Chertsey Town, Lewes didn’t have a game so going “football free” for a weekend wasn’t too much of an issue, especially as I had the small matter of ten games in five countries in eight days coming up. The hardship, I am sure you will agree.
But you all know I am an addict for a game in somewhere new, and if I played my hand just right I could take them out for a cracking day AND get to a game surely. I then came up with a cracking idea. Thanks to the inspiration of the lovely Lucie at work I planned to take the girls on a “treasure hunt” in Windsor. Well, actually, they were going to do a treasure hunt around the historic town centre for a couple of hours as I had done it before. So what could I do whilst they were trying to find where H G Wells worked as a draper’s assistant? If I was quick I could get in a game if there was one close by?
One quick Tweet to @therealfacup and I had my answer. No more than 10 minutes up the road Burnham were hosting Bishops Stortford in the FA Cup. Ten minutes there, ninety minutes with fifteen minutes for half time, ten minutes back..I needed to add a tricky question in the middle of the treasure hunt to stall them for a bit longer. Uncle Google came up with the goods:-
“Buy a CD from Windsor’s most famous current singing resident”
That would fox them for a while (the answer is of course Lisa Scott Lee – the one we all wanted to S^@g from Steps) and give me a chance to head over the M4, making sure I followed the right way. A left here and I would be passing village green’s, country pubs and the home of Jimmy Carr. Turn right and it would be the industrial estates of Slough. I don’t want to slag off Slough, I will leave that to someone much better with words than me.
“Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough!It isn’t fit for humans now,There isn’t grass to graze a cow.” said Sir John Betjeman back in 1937 of Burnham’s neighbours. It is important to tell everyone that Burnham isn’t Slough. I repeat it is not Slough. I was told that very clearly when I stopped for petrol. After all, whilst Slough can claim Geri Halliwell and Una Stubbs as famous daughters, Burnham has Ulrika Jonsson, Mike Ashley and Tracey Ullman. And the laughs don’t end there.
Back in the 1960’s the likes of Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Bernard Breslaw were regulars at The Gore, home of Burnham FC, taking a break from the filming of the Carry on films that were often shot locally. In fact the whole plot of Carry On Loving was inspired by a couple that Talbot Rothwell saw at half time in a Hellenic League game in 1970, and his fictional village of Much-snogging-on-the-green is none other than Burnham Beeches*
Today Burnham FC have made progress, some would say at the expense of the Carry On film series. Whilst many efforts have been made to continue the progress of their forefathers with the likes of Carry on London (featuring no less stars of the British screen as Vinnie Jones, Daniella Westbrook and Frank Skinner), they have gone nowhere. Yet The Blues have built on their modest surroundings, today competing in the Evostik South Central Division with a lovely brand spanking new stand to boot.
Whilst prize money at this stage in the competition is the equivalent of Carlos Tevez taking a long lunch, it actually equates to five home games worth of gate receipts for the home team. Visitors Bishops Stortford would almost be playing a local derby by travelling the 70 miles round the M25 and down the M4 based on some of the travel they will be doing in the Blue Square Bet North this season to the likes of Blyth Spartans and Workington.
So as I handed over 30 things for the female Fuller’s to find in Windsor, I headed north across the Thames for the magic of the FA Cup.
Burnham 2 Bishops Stortford 5 – The Gore – Saturday 15th October 2011
At 2.45pm I was still sitting in Nando’s in Windsor. I worked out that the journey would take 13 minutes, the car a five minute walk away so I would be at beast a few minutes late. As I pulled into the car park at The Gore at 3.03pm I could not believe my eyes. It was full. That was not in the plan, so I had to do an Austin Powers style three-point turn in the corner of the car park (one of the only funny moments from the trilogy of films). Just as I managed it in 17, a space opened up before my eyes no more than five steps from the turnstiles. Good things come to those who wait!
I couldn’t have missed much in the first eight minutes, and it seemed quite an open affair, played out in fantastic sunshine. I wandered around to stand behind the benches where ex-Spurs keeper, and now Stortford’s manager, Ian Walker was standing. Someone should tell him that the “tarmac your drive” look went out in the 1990’s. He sprang to life when Stortford’s Prestedge was brought down by the Burnham keeper. No keeper’s union here as he suggested that the home goalie should be sent off. Dwight Gayle calmly slotted the ball home for the opening goal. Or so I thought.
“Goal number three for the visitors by Gayle”. Came the announcement. What? The third goal? I asked one of the Stortford subs who told me that “Shults” and “Jonsie” had scored in the first few minutes. Not doing well this season in missing goals aren’t I!
This was game over then, and as the teams came out for the second half it seemed that Stortford would just go through the motions. But perhaps taking inspiration from Celtic earlier in the day they were soon back in the game when Jordan Dowdican scored soon after the restart and they began to pepper the Stortford goal.
It wasn’t to be and two quick goals from Michael Bukare sealed the game. However, the Burnham team didn’t seem to be as one going into the last period, a fact summed up by two incidents.
Firstly, one of the players was substituted. As he took his seat on the floor by the bench he threw his shirt over the perimeter fence. The Burnham manager, Martin Stone was disgusted.
“Go and pick your shirt up. You are an f’ing disgrace”. Fair play to the manager for humiliating the player in what was a show of petulance that Rooney would have been proud of.
And then Burnham scored. Ashley Smith’s goal was undoubtably one of those crosses that fools everyone including himself, but then for the centre forward to come over and instead of celebrating with Smith, berating him for not passing was again quite odd.
Stortford ran out easy winners in the end. They showed the two division gap between the two sides on a smashing afternoon. They have an impressive set up at the Gore, one that many clubs at higher levels will glance enviously at when they visit the furthest corner of Buckinghamshire.
Thirteen minutes later I was back in Windsor. The girls had struggled with the treasure hunt, and hadn’t even got to the tricky Lisa Scott Lee question yet which was a relief for all of us with a further two hour drive up north.
The magic of the FA Cup just keeps on getting better and better.
*Some bloke in the pub told us this so it may not be 100% true.
More pictures from the game can be found here.