8 January ~ Though he scored his share during a distinguished playing career, I'd be surprised if David Oldfield bagged many goals likely to flash before a fellow's eyes before he slips away. Yet for this punter, a couple of winning goals provided seminal moments for starkly differing reasons. The first came at Oakwell to give Leicester City a 1-0 win over Barnsley somewhere around the mid-point of the 1990s. A close-range effort to decide a scruffy Division One affair, the goal nonetheless ensured that my "big" team won for the first time in eight years with me in the stadium watching them; thus breaking a duck that had spanned 40 games.
Outrageous fortune being what it is, Oldfield's other goal was one I didn't receive quite so well, though I'd wager it was the most spectacular of his 18 years as a full-time professional. Scored for his last league club, Oxford United, the Aussie's perfectly executed overhead kick was the only goal of an FA Cup first round tie at my "little" club, Dover Athletic.
The significance of that last game is two-fold. Without the income generated by only the club's second appearance in the competition proper, Dover would not have survived the 2002-03 season. Secondly, the few seconds it took the BBC to show Oldfield's winner provided, until very recently, the Whites' only televised FA Cup coverage in their 28-year history. That latter fact can be directly attributed to Dover's previously abysmal record in the competition. But after consecutive 2-0 wins over Gillingham and Aldershot, the club is now wondering just what they need to do get some of the FA Cup lucre that's being flung at just about everyone else.
For the lowest-ranked team competing in the third round, a meagre £6,750 netted from TV coverage thus far does seem a piddling amount compared to the five and six figures others – notably FC United of Manchester – have received in falling at the first two hurdles. Still, we've enjoyed our little Saturday night snippets on ITV and being patronised by Andy Townsend, even if more localised TV coverage might reasonably be mistaken for a parody of the Fast Show.
A third-round trip to Huddersfield isn't ideal, of course, but one that many a Dovorian would have craved had it been offered in September. Indeed, the club shifted over 800 tickets at a recent home game in a little shy of two hours, while some have effectively cancelled Christmas in order to pay for a weekend away in West Yorkshire.
Our hopes? Well, just to enjoy the day out, participate in a little bit of club history and hope our team can avoid the kind of battering the Terriers seem more than capable of inflicting. If we do raise our game and get lucky, we'd probably need to get to the quarter-finals if we hope to be live on the box. Sunday train service allowing, I'll be in a Dover pub in time for "the tie of the round", Man Utd v Liverpool. As my club's relatively solvent these days, I shall take the charitable view that maybe United and Liverpool need the TV revenue more than we do. Mark Winter