There is only one football competition in the country that can grab the attention of fans collectively and that is the FA Cup. No other contest comes remotely close despite the hype and publicity. Fast approaching its 150th anniversary, the FA Cup, whether it be the qualifying rounds or final at Wembley is steeped in tradition.
Not unsurprisingly then, being given the chance to progress into the 3rd round of the competition is eagerly grasped by fans and players alike when your club is in League Two. Oldham’s journey to the 3rd round was fraught with giant-killing danger as they were drawn away to Hampton & Richmond in the first round and Maidstone in the second round. Thankfully after two professional displays, they are now included in the 3rd round draw.
Obviously, this has triggered an enormous amount of speculation as to who we now might face. The wish list seems to be evenly distributed between those who want an easy home tie so that we might progress to a money-spinning, televised game and those who want the biggest club on offer at their place. The latter will no doubt give Latics fans the opportunity to turn up inebriated, descend on the pie stall like locusts and sing “We’re taking over your town again” for 90 minutes.
Common sense would suggest that given Oldham’s financial difficulties, a lengthy stay in the competition would generate the much-needed money that the club needs to survive but many supporters would rather go out of the competition to one of the ‘big boys’ after giving them a scare than exiting to another nondescript League One side in front of a 4000 crowd.
There is, of course, the opportunity to satisfy both camps. Burnley (who fell to Lincoln City last season), Huddersfield and Newcastle would be suitable away trips and are hardly likely to put out full strength sides in the FA Cup given their current perilous, Premier League position. They are all definitely ripe for picking as the saying goes.
Personally, I’d love a repeat of that magnificent display against Liverpool in 2013 but I’d be happy with any money-spinning tie as long as we don’t disgrace ourselves. Ideally, I’d like to hear “Number 24, Manchester United will play………”