Once again, it has been a disappointing campaign for Reds’ male teams in the various FA competitions and it is now down to Reds Ladies to restore some pride when they embark on their personal Wembley trail at the weekend.
Here we are in the third week of September and, already, our interest in the FA Cup, FA Trophy and FA Youth Cup is over for another year.
It began well enough with a record equalling away win in the FA Cup on a very wet afternoon at West Allotment Celtic. The 7-0 victory over the Northern League club was our best away win in the competition for ninety years and lulled us all into a false sense of thinking that ‘this could be our year’.
The subsequent draw for the First Round Qualifying dampened some of the euphoria when we were paired with Kevin Phillips’ South Shields side, again in the north east.
Written off by many before a ball was even kicked at the 1st Cloud Arena, Reds produced arguably their best performance of the season in a rather unfortunate 3-2 defeat, and that after twice holding the lead.
We were undone in stoppage time but left the competition with our heads held high and pride intact.
Twenty-four hours later, this season’s youth team made the four hour journey to Pickering Town for our opening (and only) game in the FA Youth Cup. Always an unknown prospect going into these games, it is important to see how the youngsters compete when taken from their comfort zone and a crucial part of their development.
Not for the first time in this competition, we didn’t do ourselves justice and a disappointing 4-1 defeat was the outcome but a valuable experience nevertheless.
Back to the first team and a delayed start to the FA Trophy, a competition which has been good to us over the years, financially and emotionally, with some great trips and giant-killing victories experienced.
Not this year, though. Knowing who you might play in the next round always seems to work against us with fans discussing a trip to either North Shields or Pontefract Collieries at the next stage of the competition before the Runcorn Linnets match had even kicked off.
For an hour on Tuesday, it looked as though we might sneak through to the next round and yet another trip to the north east but, instead, Runcorn will be making those arrangements.
We weren’t brilliant, neither were we poor but just not good enough to win on the night and, despite taking a deserved lead, we eventually lost to a ninetieth minute penalty.
And so to a familiar saying on the Borough Park terraces: “there’s always next year!”.
The Reds Ladies team begin their interest in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup on Sunday with their First Round Qualifying tie v. Washington taking place at Workington Town’s Derwent Park (2pm).
They have made a solid start to the new season but are still searching for that elusive first win. There is an incentive to win on Sunday with prize money of £1,800 up for grabs with the losers consoled by a cheque for £450.
Should they win, they will travel to Ponteland United in the next round but first things first – focus on the Washington game and nothing else.
Reds Ladies enjoyed a great cup run two years ago and we sincerely hope they can emulate those achievements this term!