Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: They think the FA Cup fairytale is all is now

By Billy Weir

You know BT Sport are hoping for big things when they start the show with someone standing beside something, and so it was on Sunday lunchtime as we joined Lynsey Hipgrave outside the Tameside Stadium for Curzon Ashton's FA Cup clash with AFC Wimbledon.

Beside her was a statue of three men - Sir Geoff Hurst, Jimmy Armfield and Simone Perrotta - who we were told "were all players born in the area who went on to become World Cup winners" and that today's players would "have a chance to write their name in local folklore". And indeed they did.

Talking of names, it took a while for them to explain whether we were in Curzon or Ashton, while, of course, AFC Wimbledon were just plain old Wimbledon when they carved out the FA Cup's biggest fairytale back in 1988 when the Crazy Gang beat the Culture Club.

That win over Liverpool, and the club's subsequent move to Milton Keynes and re-birth back on their old haunt, is the subject of a new film, with manager Neil Ardley keeping things real.

"I have asked if I do have a small part to get Brad Pitt in just for the fact it would mean my wife would fancy me again and I'd be over the moon with that," he said.

After 30 seconds, though, he was as sick as a parrot as Adam Morgan scored for the home side, and when he added his second later on commentator Adam Summerton was in dreamland.

"The FA Cup produces fairytales season in, season out, we are seeing one unfolding here in front of our eyes," he said as builders moved in to start adding Morgan to the statue.

His third goal was accompanied by the whirring of cement mixers and with 11 minutes to go and three goals to the good, the fairytale was complete.

Errr, not quite. Tom Elliott, unlike his UUP counterpart, gave AFC a glimmer of hope, two minutes later it was 3-2 and in the blink of an eye an equaliser arrived and by now Summerton had lost the run of himself.

"Astonishing, absolutely incredible, there's supporters on the pitch," he said, and clearly the statue was having an effect but it wasn't all over just yet.

In the 94th minute Elliott popped up to make it 4-3 and then it was all over, the cement mixers were silenced, home fans trooped off to Curzon or Ashton wondering why their fairytale had a grim finish, and scene one of Wimbledon II got off to an epic start.

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