What is it that makes the FA Cup so special? Maybe it’s seeing players who have to juggle jobs and families with the sport they love rubbing shoulders with the pros; or getting the chance to see the clubs, the grounds and fans normally sidelined by the bigger sides; and of course, there’s nothing like relishing the upset of a giantslaying. Despite the plethora of third round FA Cup fixtures up and down the country yesterday, it was for that reason that all eyes were trained on the David and Goliath of clashes between Blyth Spartans and Birmingham City.
A fairytale win was probably a dream too far for the lowest ranking team left in the competition. After all, Championship side Birmingham are ranked 120 places above Blyth, who play in the seventh tier of English football. Nevertheless, I had my fingers crossed for them, as did my Dad, who used to go and watch them as a boy with his Grandad who’d be on duty with St John’s Ambulance.
In the first half the Spartans looked in control, and it seemed unbelievable when team captain and part-time barman, Robbie Dale scored twice before the half-time whistle blew. Unfortunately for Blyth, Birmingham recouped their losses and took the lead early in the second half, scoring 3 goals in six minutes. In the end, the gulf between the teams was just too big to breach. But for a moment there, while the whole world and my Dad held their breath, a little known team from Blyth took on a giant and looked like they just might win.