FC Romania’s radar is permanently askew.
Several thousand miles from home this Essex Senior League outfit respect no boundary – their home is in Hertfordshire (or as one website catering for Romains in the UK had it “Herdfordshire’).
And they’re not short of ambition.
Hear this from the MC club secretary John Adams as I walked past: “I’ve got a bet on FC Romania to win the FA Cup in the next four years.
“I stand to win 50 thousand, he’s getting worried.”
Cheshunt FC share their home in sleepy commuterville with the EU nationals from Romania who, it’s safe to say, probably aren’t Nigel Farage’s favourite side.
Well I’m assuming they’re immigrants – some aren’t – Mr Adams is clearly a Brit was shouting in what seemed like fluent Romanian throughout the game.
And cryptically he said this in the programme, referring to last year, their first season in the Essex Senior League: “One year on and we haven’t lost our accents, don’t suppose we will, for those that know us at FC Romania,for those that are meeting us for the first time – Our accent is Geordie! and the Geordies love it. Enough said.”
Now I was really confused. It all added to the sense of surreal. This lot are Romanian, they play in Essex, sorry Hertfordshire, and have Geordie accents? Probing further didn’t seem like a good idea.
A snare drum, a megaphone and three large Romanian flags were enlisted by about 60 home fans singing and chanting.
The programme revealed the 22 names were all from the mother country. I figured Cornel Cornea might have an eye for goal and that Cosmin Costache was the programme editor as his name was mentioned twice (or there are two Cosmin Costaches at the club).
Balloons were set free just before kick-off in yellow red and blue. 39 of them. I counted.
This second round FA Cup qualifying match was given added woof, woof factor in the form of Sutton Utd, famous 2-1 conquerors of 1987 FA Cup winners Coventry in 1989 and who have been trying to get back into the Conference since the turn of the milllennium.
Assistant manager is Micky Stephens who my pal Nick, a Sutton ultra, told me: “Other guys got the glory because they scored the goals but Stephens was the one who created the goals.”
A bit of pedigree then and it showed – the tie was almost over in the first ten minutes.
Sutton had impressively warmed up with intensity, in stark contrast to the hosts who had leisurely sauntered around.
Pumped up, Sutton were all over their hosts and clumsy challenges on the Conference Southern side’s Craig Dundas in the box gifted them a 2-0 lead.
Both penalties were put away with aplomb by the mouthy midfielder Glen Southam, never short of advice for the match official who in fact he told to ‘Fuck off ‘ in the first five minutes (and didn’t get booked).
Dundas ran down a blind alley not long after the second penalty, bamboozling defenders and himself alike – a toe-poked clearance reached former Cambridge defender Michael Spillane and he curved a fantastic shot into the top right corner for 3-0.
The Romanians looked, and were playing like, bloodless nervy novices nibbled overnight by a passing vampire.
But some Transylvanian tungsten was implanted at half-time and they returned to the pitch ready to stick a stake through Sutton’s heart.
The attack suddenly had fangs. Midfield started to spread their wings and smooth, fast-flowing attacks suddenly made FC Romania look the team from the higher division.
Ilie Vasili’s first didn’t concert the visiting fans much. His second did – it was time for the visiting fans to look bloodless. Boy did they start moaning. Home fan interest also reawakened as the game had seemed up after the early Sutton onslaught.
But 12 minutes wasn’t enough to grab what would probably have been an undeserved equaliser.
The sides came off to the incongruous sound of Congratulations by Cliff Richard on the PA. Can’t recall hearing that at a football match before.
Congratulations indeed to both sides for a decent day out that proves the FA Cup to be only slightly below the World Cup as the best competition on the planet.
Don’t think the bet at the bookies is going to be collected. though.
FC Romania’s website is at http://www.fcromania.com
The entertainingly cantankerous Sutton fans’ twitter is @gandermonium