As the (moon) dust settles on Sincil Bank after a historic weekend, attention will quickly turn to Monday’s draw for the last 16 of the FA Cup. For the first time since tractors have been used in fields (I shit you not), Lincoln City will feature. The pertinent question is, who do you want to play?
As a self-respecting blogger I obviously have my own favourites. For information, the line up is as follows:
2: Derby or Leicester
7: Danny Cowley’s Moon Stompers
9: Man Utd
16: Man City
The first question I ask is who we do not want to face? The obvious calls are sides such as Derby or Leicester, Millwall, Huddersfield and Fulham. These are sides that are likely to field full strength teams for a chance to get to the quarter finals, and perhaps wouldn’t be such a big draw for the fans. I was underwhelmed with Oldham, Brighton and Ipswich at the time, although the day out at Ipswich felt decidedly Premier League once we were there. That said, I don’t want to see one of the ‘little big’ clubs coming out against us.
I think we’d benefit much more from an away tie. Despite the fact we’re last 16, I still maintain we are not going to win the cup. Therefore the focus has to be on the financials, and all of the fans who want to get to a game being able to go. In that respect we certainly don’t want Man Utd at Sincil Bank, can you imagine how many ‘new’ fans would suddenly want tickets? I’ve heard of die-hard Imps missing out on tickets against Ipswich and Brighton. A big club at the Bank, as nice as it would be, would cause too many logistical problems. Besides, who wants half the takings from a 9,500 crowd when you can have half of 40,000+?
I would quite like to have an away trip to London, Chelsea in particular. My Dad has always had a soft spot for Chelsea, and I’d be up for another weekend in London (after Welling next Saturday). There shouldn’t be to many problems getting a ticket either. I wouldn’t be too fussed if it was Arsenal or Spurs, both would represent the sort of day out we’ve earned, but definitely not Fulham. We want a team that we haven’t seen in League action at the Bank in the last 20 years really, the only exception perhaps being Man City if we were to head up north. The Man City of today is very different from the side we turned over three times in the late 1990’s.
Of course any of the big clubs on the list would make for a nice day out. It wouldn’t be my first trip to Old Trafford if we were to draw the red half of Manchester, and at least with United you know you’re going to get on the TV! It is crucial that whoever we draw gives us the chance to be one of the televised games, and with Sutton progressing it does half our chances of featuring. If we pull Huddersfield and they pull Arsenal, you know we may not see that cool quarter of a million pounds that gets handed out for the chosen games.
The other draw that I know people probably don’t want would actually be Sutton. The opportunity for a non-league club to progress to the quarter finals would lead to even more exposure than we seen already, and without being insulting to our National League rivals it would be the most winnable game we’ve played in the competition since Altrincham in the first round proper. This wouldn’t bring the financial reward in terms of attendance, but it might present an opportunity to progress to the quarter finals. Can you imagine that? Little old Lincoln City in the last eight of the FA Cup? That said would we want all of our heroics to count for nothing as we went down 2-1 at Gander Green Lane?
The same could be said for Oxford. They’re not flying high in League One, they’re stranded almost ten points clear of safety and are a similar margin short of the play-offs. They would represent a more winnable game again, and although it wouldn’t be the glamour draw many people crave, it might be a springboard to a far greater prize. We might not have been in the fifth round since Shredded Wheat was invented, but we’ve never been in the last eight of the competition.
I know the draw is completely random, and predicting who we’ll get is pointless, but I’m going to do it anyway. I think we’ll end up drawn against Blackburn or Burnley. Blackburn might present yet another chance to smash a Championship club, but Burnley (along with Middlesbrough) will see the FA Cup as a chance to get their hands on some silverware, and perhaps salvage some pride from an otherwise non-descript season. Both would present a very difficult challenge.
In fairness whoever we get, wherever we travel to, it’s a bonus. At the start of the season I would have taken the FA Trophy last 16 and a play off spot, and going into February we’re still in more competitions than Liverpool and West Ham combined. Last season it was LCFC of Leicester shocking everyone, this year it might be the LCFC wearing red and white that cause the monumental upsets.
So until tomorrow I’m going to put all talk of the FA Cup on hold. I’ve had a sniff of a scarf being waved in the next 24-48 hours, so maybe we’ll have something to discuss before the 7pm showcase. Immediately after we won’t rest on our laurels either as we have a massive, massive clash with Solihull Moors in which a win will see us retake a four point lead at the top.
The FA Cup might be securing our long term financial future, but the absolute best way to do that will be to win the National League, and I’d happily take Millwall away, buried in the banality of a 3pm non-televised kick off, if it meant us winning on Tuesday night.