A WORD of thoroughly deserved praise for bubbling Billingham Synthonia, the pyramid part-timers who are within sight of a fairytale trip to the spectacular new Wembley Stadium that could pour second hand consolation glory into the vaccuum left by Boro’s bitter FA Cup exit.
Super Synners face on Southampton-based side AFC Totton on Saturday taking a 2-1 advantage into the second leg of their FA Vase semi-final. They have the upper hand and a pyschological edge after a dogged tin hats defence and a late winner in a sparkling show against the cloud-scraping Southampton outfit’s Land of the Giants aerial attack.
Victory – or even a draw – on Saturday will set up a thrilling climax to the season with a silverware showdown in the shadow of the iconic arch. I am so excited I could explode. The people of Teesside show be proud of their mighty minnows and football fans should get themselves to Central Avenue on Saturday.
Boro fans used to the confined ridigity of seating in a designated seat will enjoy the freedom of choosing to sit – or stand – where they want. There will be no furry mascots, no half time hard sell from the sponsors, no exhorbitant food prices, no over-zealous stewards and no barely suppressed fury and habitual moaning. And there will be no diving, shirt pulling, feigning injury or four letter blasts at the referee.
There will be a smiling welcome from a homely club, players who show honesty and endeavour, skill, passion and a robust approach to firm but fair contact. There will also be excitement, tension and nerves but also expectation, anticipation and hope. It will be brilliant.
For fans frustrated at the excesses and commercialisation of the top level entertainment industry, the grassroots experience offers a refreshing chance to reconnect with the soul of the game, to engage with the competitive spectacle at the core without the self-important bluster, over-hyped expectations and cynical packaging.
For Synthonia to get this far is an incredible achievement. The injury wracked side has seen off a string of sides that have gone into their knockout clashes as either the leaders or reigning champions of their leagues. They were 66-1 outsiders back in the fourth round.
The game costs ÃÂ£8 with ÃÂ£4 concessions – it is not a ruthless con job rasining it from the usual ÃÂ£4 but is the FA mandated minimum charge. Invest in the grassroots, get youslef along and cheer our minnows on to Wembley. And come and see me.