With a seemingly Biblical 40-days and night's rain pouring upon Latimer Park, football is presently at a premium. So much so that the missus and me settled down to watch the FA Cup tie between Nottingham Forest and West Ham today. The main reason being that the Tricky Trees are my second team, and the Hammers are hers.
Only other commitments prevented us from actually making the trip up to the City Ground, which, given the spanking handed out to the East London losers by the two-time European Cup Winners, was a shame.
The draw for the Fourth Round of the Cup immediately followed the game, and I couldn't help feeling a little saddened by the knowledge that the Poppies are unlikely to feature in such a televised draw again. At least not in the immediate or middling future.
We all recall the excitement of packing into the Poppies Social Club, nervously awaiting the draw and seeing who we would be playing in the next round. Cracking inappropriate jokes when the former pros are asked by the TV presenter to empty their ball sack. The pulse-pounding mixture of anticipation and fear as each team is drawn out of the hat. The shrieks of horror when we might get drawn away to a crappy Northern bunch of nobodies, and the catcalls of encouragement when the possibility of an away draw to a glamorous Premier League team was briefly on offer.
The most deafening roar was reserved for when we were drawn away to Manchester United a few years ago*. It almost took the roof off the Tin Hat!
And then I felt bad at the knowledge that we only really enjoyed our recent FA Cup successes because the club was being artificially and excessively funded by DRC Locums. Chances are we were better financed than most of the League teams we beat in recent years. Or at least until James Caan bought DRC out and happened to notice a large, very Poppies-shaped hole in the company's profits. But we can't talk about this too much as Imraan is still deeply involved in his legal case. Probably.
* There was just the small matter of a replay away at Elland Road standing between us and Guy Branston heading the ball sideways at the Theatre of Dreams.....