Sport has a funny way of getting you. I’ve written elsewhere and bored friends to tears talking about how you know when a game, a sport or a team has grabbed you. Sometimes these connections last until you change channel when the game finishes but sometimes they run deeper. Right now, I’m flirting with those shameless folk at Eastbourne United AFC who have put on a cup (vase) run just as I introduce my son to soccer.
And this, his third match (second here, the previous Vase match being the other) was the one where something got him. When Eastbourne’s second went in, pulling them ahead having had an earlier lead levelled, I didn’t have to turn and tell his eager five year old brain what had happened. No, this time, I turned to see a boy grinning from ear to ear and clapping wildly. Football, eh? Bloody hell.
Anyway, this game did pretty much have everything. Solid tackling, hard fouls, inventive attack, long balls, goals and a crowd. Eastbourne led 1-0 at the break before Ampthill deservedly equalised. Thereafter followed tension which only grew once the home side were back in front. The visitors may have finished with 9 men (the boy has seen 6 red cards in his three matches) but they were laying siege when the referee blew for time.
So, now there’s the small matter of a two-legged semi final and, possibly, a Wembley final to come. I did once make it to a Vase final at the old Wembley – a match so dull I can barely remember which teams were playing. I’m sure if Eastbourne do get that far it will be an altogether more memorable occasion.
(There are some photos of the match here.)