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And now it's the magic of the cup!

8 November 2018

Open Diary writes: OK, so Tuesday night was a disappointment. It was all too predictable if you ask me. Get to half time 1-0 up and can't hold on to it. Saturday was the same, 0-0 at 80 minutes and can't see the game out. We've not scored in three games bar an own goal on Tuesday. So, the good run is well behind us now and we're drifting back to the bottom of the fourth division. You can't see it changing much, can you?

But hold on, here's a welcome break. This weekend it's the first round of the FA Cup.

We all know the story. It's the "magic of the FA Cup". What that means in reality is that hundreds of sides start out and it all ends up next May as one of the top four or five sides in the country wins the trophy. There was a time when it wasn't like this, but get used to it because times have changed.

In the meantime, enjoy the romanticism. Unfortunately, we drew the evil joker in the pack and will be facing MK Dons. Some at CA Towers will probably consider censoring the unmentionable name in the same way as prisoner-of-war letters home were censored in World War II, so let's not dwell on this except to say that stranger things have happened than Town finding themselves in the second round draw and wondering about getting an away tie at Sunderland or Portsmouth to boost our ailing budget. Or a friendly home fixture to someone like Maidenhead United or Metropolitan Police, who even we ought to be able to see off and get through to round three.

Can you remember the last time we got to the third round? I can't.

The real romance of the cup will be happening at our unmentionable opponents' alter-ego, of course: AFC Wimbledon will be facing Haringey Borough tomorrow night on White Hart Lane, N17. No, not at the uncompleted Spurs stadium. This is further up the Lane at the Coles Park Stadium, a tiny ground with a single stand on one side where admission costs £10.

It will be a good night because Haringey play on a new 3G pitch. I have seen them once already this season and they are no mugs. They have pace and organisation and at home they will be a tough proposition. Getting this far has netted them about £50,000 and if they beat Wimbledon they will pick up another £36,000 plus, presumably, a share of the TV money. They have, and do, all the things you hear people saying that we want Town to have, and do. They have an affable chairman who relates to the fans, they bring on local talent, and they play good, fast-flowing football.

And on Friday night they're on the telly – on BBC2, to be exact, at 7:55. Remember to turn it on because it'll remind you of all the qualities that we'll all want to see the next day when we play the team whose name should not be mentioned.

The point is that none of these sides – in fact none of the sides playing any of these ties this weekend – have an earthly chance of winning the FA Cup or even getting close to doing so. But what it does hold out is the prospect of rubbing shoulders with the now distant elite of clubs that inhabit the Premier League and who will enter the competition in two rounds' time. Haringey have already got through four rounds to get this far and all we have to do is follow their example.

What are the chances of this happening? Well, Haringey are quoted at 7/1 against to beat Wimbledon and Town are 7/2 against to get through against you know who. But you never know, and then all we need is a fortuitous draw in the second round and we could be going to the other end of White Hart Lane for one of those matches which will remind us of the days, not so long ago, when we didn't just play big sides but also saw them off.