Club News

3 Games in September – Fisher’s fairytale FA Cup run 2020

We all know the significance of the FA Cup, the history and the passions it evokes; from the smallest clubs comes the greatest chance to create the biggest impact. This is where non-league gets a glimpse of real footballing dreams, the dramas and the upsets, an opportunity to make a name for ourselves, prove ourselves to the world. It’s the FA Cup – still the best cup competition in the world, and we are very much a part of the magic it creates.

One such magical moment was last September when we started once again our FA Cup journey, typically out of hope more than expectation, but it turned out to be one of the best ever months in this club’s short history.

Tuesday 1 September
Our first game was with Horsham YMCA at home. We had played them in the same fixture 2 years previously where they won with a late goal in the 90th minute to end our cup dreams before they even started.That was then but this was now.

It was a cool September evening at St Paul’s not a particularly big crowd, but as ever the noise they made was impressive. This time we ran Horsham ragged – the ever faithful foot of Rob Brown put us ahead early on only for Jack Gibbons to finish the game off early in the second half. The game was electric and there was an urgency about the play, something was happening, suddenly things started to look interesting.

Saturday 12 September
Next up Tooting and Mitcham away. This was the game we wanted. Two South London rivals, with excellent vocal support, fresh young talent and a cracking meeting last season to boot (which Tooting won 5-2). It was a beautiful sunny saturday afternoon at Imperial Fields and the game will go down as one of the most nerve-jangling we’ve been involved in.

Tooting, who play a division above us, took an early lead utterly comfortable in front of their home crowd only for the Fish to equalise before the end of the half.

Most of the second half was a battle of wills in the middle of the field until Tooting took the lead with 10 minutes left to play. By all accounts that should have been it, a sterling performance by us, but nothing we could do about it… except.. in the last five minutes an on-fire Jamie Yilla made a darting run into the box where he was bundled over by a trailing Tooting defender. Penalty. Coolest man on the field Josh Biddlecombe stepped up and made no mistake from the spot. The longest 4 minutes in the world then followed as both sides were determined not to let the other score and when the whistle finally blew the score remained tied at 2 each. And so to penalties.

If nerves were jagged before they were literally shredded apart now as the tension became unbearable. Both sets of fans amassed together behind the goal the penalties were to be taken cheering their respective side on. It was proper edge of the seat stuff especially as the first Fisher penalty failed to find the back of the net. Tooting had the advantage, and the tension increased with the noise level. Neither downhearted or intimidated keeper Daniel Carpanini stepped up and kept his cool brilliantly saving the first Tooting spot kick. The stand erupted. Back on level terms.

Then something extraordinary happened. Fisher kept scoring and Tooting kept missing. It was an inspired bit of calm-under-pressure that eventually took us through 3-1 on penalties. It was also a magnificent day supporter-wise. The crowd was just 2 short of 400 in attendance with the Fish bringing down 93 away fans – our biggest turn out for an away game and all witnessing a magnificent contest that was to see us through to the 1st Qualifying Round and Cray Wanderers.

Wednesday 23 September
Evening mid-week games are notoriously bad in terms of travelling away support as they’re always difficult to get to straight from work. We shouldn’t have worried. Fish fans came in their hordes. It was an impressive sight seeing us all lined up behind the goal, making the noise we make. Cray Wanderers ground was certainly rocking. Another big club and another mountain to climb.

Unfortunately we couldn’t repeat the result of the previous round. It was a close run thing though. Again the opposition scored first early on in the game making it an uphill battle for the Fish for most of the 90 minutes. Not to be outdone we equalised mid-way through the half with a goal that was later voted goal-of-the-month by Fish fans. A long distance shot seemingly out of no-where from Malaki Coker saw the keeper completely flummoxed and kept our cup chances alive. That was until the closing moments of the half when Cray scored again to take them into the break on a high.

The Fish didn’t bow down though and came out for the second half all guns blazing. And even when Cray got a third and pretty much sealed the game the Fish never stopped pounding at the Cray defence looking for a way back in. If Tooting was calm under pressure this was gutsy determination under fire. We threw everything at the Cray goal and our cup hopes felt alive right up until the final whistle. That’s how much it meant, we were fighting for something more than a place in the next round. This was our football.

It was also a little glimpse of what the Fish are capable of. As a club, as a team, this was the football we yearn to create and watch. It was a proud moment when the players came over to applaud the fans behind the goal who reciprocated in kind. We knew we’d just been a part of something special. Everyone went home that night exhausted, but with a magical FA Cup run memory to keep with them.

Can we do the same again this year? Certainly the squad Ajay has put together is as strong and talented as we’ve seen at St Paul’s, growing in stature with every game. Teamwork, energy and class – something has definitely clicked into place. One thing is for certain this season is going to be a very special one indeed because this club is growing into an incredibly special club and it’s up to the fans, the co-owners, the members to occasionally remind ourselves of that fact.

The FA Cup brings out the best in us as a footballing nation, it’ll always be a part of us, and this saturday we’ll be part of it again. This is our football.

3 Games in September

// Extra-Preliminary Round //
Fisher 2-0 Horsham YMCA
Tuesday 1 September
Match report:
Goal highlights:
Rob Brown ⚽️
Jack Gibbons ⚽️

// Preliminary Round //
Tooting & Mitcham United 2-2 Fisher (Fisher go through 3-1 on penalties)
Saturday 12 September
Match report:
Goal highlights:
Malaki Coker ⚽️
Josh Biddlecombe (p) ⚽️

// 1st Qualifying Round //
Cray Wanderers 3-1 Fisher
Wednesday 23 September
March report:
Malaki Coker ⚽️

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