and like the underdogs we are

shining bright but now disappeared

and like the underdogs we are

passing like some fading stars

like some fading stars

– “Underdogs“, Manic Street Preachers

I must admit that I was absolutely thrilled by yesterday’s match between Kettering Town F.C. and Fulham. I don’t think it was ever meant to be in doubt that Fulham would eventually win the thing, which they did 4-2. But, my goodness, what a match.

If you like David vs. Goliath matchups then the FA Cup is for you. North American sports don’t have any equivalent. Maybe the NCAA basketball finals, but even then you are only talking about 65 teams that qualify. In the FA Cup, pretty much every team in the first 11 levels of English football gets a shot in an single elimination knock-out tournament. That means for the 2008-2009 season, the FA Cup began with 762 teams. 762? That’s absolutely bonkers. Those nutters over in England have got something here.

The Superbowl is next weekend, but come on, let’s be honest, the “underdog” Cardinals didn’t have to battle through 700 other teams to make it there. 1 in 32 chance of winning? I’m pretty sure Kettering Town F.C. would like those odds.

There’s something magical about watching a team that plays in the semi-professional Conference National (level 5 of the pyramid) going up against a Premiership side and giving them a run for their money. Fulham aren’t exactly the best side out there, but there shouldn’t be any doubt when they play minnows like KTFC (almost looks like Kentucky Fried Chicken, doesn’t it?).

Only in the FA Cup can you see Conference National sides like Kettering Town F.C. play Premiership sides like Fulham

Only in the FA Cup can you see Conference National sides like Kettering Town F.C. play Premiership sides like Fulham

It took two late goals in the 87th and 88th minute, by Andy Johnson (Mr. Clean body-double) and Bobby Zamora to seal it up.

That’s okay, I think the Kettering players knew that they weren’t likely to get much further, but they probably enjoyed having their match televised for once. If it wasn’t for the 5,400 fans at the home game wearing red I wouldn’t have thought that anyone would have heard of Kettering, let alone cheered for them.

On a side note, the Poppies (as they are called) have been the only football side in the world to wear “Palestine Aid” on their jerseys (which they’ve done since 2007) and raise charitible funds for Interpal. Regardless of your stance, I think KTFC has got some major nuggets.