The FA Cup draw is always an exciting time, especially the first and third rounds.
I even paused our series White Collar last night to watch, hoping we were the first ball out so I could settle back into my beef roast and the exciting tribulations of New York’s finest con man and FBI agent pairing. Of course, I was made to wait.
I did wonder if I’d tuned in to a parody at first, as the hostess stumbled through the first few ties, but eventually, she found her feet and the draw ran smoothly. Each ‘home’ ball was met with me either screaming ‘no thanks’, or ‘we’ll take that’ at the screen, whilst each blank tie had me looking up and down the list for us. Often, Fe would note she could see number 26 left in the bag and I’d relax, knowing we weren’t off to bloody Gillingham or somewhere equally as rubbish.
As the ties fell and we stayed in the bag, I feared Sunderland, Portsmouth or Ipswich, three you do not want, but with just four balls to go, we had around a 66.67% chance of a non-league side. In the end, we got a side who, in my mind, are decidedly non-league but propped up with money. Forest Green Rovers.
As you know, I try really hard to be objective and fair on this site. However, when it comes to FGR, Cooperman and Vince, I just can’t be. I do try, I promise. I don’t criticise the veganism, that’s their choice and you have to respect that, and I won’t make the meat-based puns or anything like that either. What I do object to, is their standing as some sort of bastion of virtue when really, they are not.
Take the recent stadium naming for instance. They teamed up with innocent smoothies (deliberate and cool non-capital ‘i’) and ran a competition to rename the stadium. Keith won the vote, which I would have had huge respect for, but then it became the innocent New Lawn. Wow, so you just added a sponsor’s name to your actual stadium? That’s basically just a commercial link-up, isn’t it? Also, innocent are owned by Coca Cola, a company that has been accused of dehydrating communities in its pursuit of water resources to feed its own plants, drying up farmers’ wells and destroying local agriculture. I’m almost on the cusp of saying words like ‘hypocrites’, but I won’t.
That’s what I don’t like about Forest Green; they plan a carbon-neutral stadium which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but happily flew architects in from around the world during a seven-month international competition to design the planned wooden stadium. Then there is the complete contrast between their supposed ethos of being nice and lovely, and the actions of their sullen manager, not least when he allegedly attacked one of our supporters outside of the ground. Forest Green might be good at some things, but graciously losing isn’t one of them, which is a shame really, as they haven’t beaten us in six meetings.
I know, time moves on and we’re not the Lincoln that had a rivalry with them, but the arrogance of Vince, claiming League Two promotion would be easy, still grates on me today. In my eyes, this is a game filled with more vitriol than Grimsby or Hull, not between the fans, but in terms of my view of the club. When we face the Cods, we’re facing a club, not unlike us. A little fishier maybe, but backed by supporters for years and the hub of a community. Forest Green are, in my opinion, a zombie club, stumbling around the Football League fuelled by money and little else. If Vince got bored, where would they end up? In my opinion, just like Rushden and Diamonds did. The fact Vince backed Project Big Picture with far more information to hand than we had compounded the ongoing dislike for what they do. I won’t even listen to Massive Attack anymore.
Putting that aside, is this a good draw for us? Well, it is at home and it isn’t against a side higher than us (not that it could be of course… insert your own smug-faced emoji here), nor is it against a League One club. Being honest, I do think it is a good draw from a football perspective because they play nice football the right way. As much as I dislike Cooper, his sides stick to their ethos and play out from the back, something that should suit us. I would hope we do it better than them, which should give us a game like the Plymouth one, only with a little more possession for us. Playing on our pitch is a positive too, upsets happen when struggling sides (like Burton) go to unpredictable non-league clubs (like Barnet) and don’t expect to be met with a resistance that matches their league campaign. We won’t be going anywhere, Forest Green come to us and that has to be a good thing.
It isn’t a bad draw, lets say that much. With fifteen or so balls left, I told Fe ‘we’ll happily put a scowl on Cooperman’s face again’, which did draw a bemused look (she thought Russ Abbott, not a football manager). I suppose once a non-league side became possible I fancied that, but it could have been much, much worse. I’m not going to say it’s a straightforward game, it absolutely won’t be and certain players (Elliot Whitehouse) will be up for it, as will Cooper who will be desperate to finally get some joy against us. It will be a good game of football, that is one thing Forest Green do right, and our current style will at least mean that if we do win, there can be no comments about our approach afterwards either.
I do apologise to genuine fans of Forest Green or the hard-working staff who toil away every day just as at any other football club. My beef is with the club ethos and not with you. Don’t hate me too much.