Rochdale v Plymouth Argyle, Sunday 5th December 2021, 12.15pm

Have been to all the previous seven rounds of this season’s FA Cup I was keen to keep the run going and get to a second round game. Initially I’d looked at the Buxton-Morecambe fixture but getting hold of tickets was an arse on with the hosts understandably keen to maximise revenue by prioritizing fans who could be tempted to attend a prior league game.

Rochdale had tickets on sale fairly early on for their Sunday lunchtime tie with Plymouth and whilst we could have got in for a tenner I took advantage of the lower than normal reduced price of forty quid for hospitality in the 1907 lounge.

Jen and I got a table for two prior to the game, some pastries and a full English. We also had padded seats close to the half-way line in the stand with the sun behind us. It was generally ok but the breakfast was served with beans sat on top of everything else. Who likes baked bean juice on their bacon? Plus, I’d put on real shoes instead of trainers only to find that just about everyone else ignored that directive. Despite all that it was still worth doing.

I’m not sure if I’ve been to Rochdale before, back when the ground was known as Spotlands. I think I might have been in the first Rioch promotion season, but with no recollection or proof I’ve had to consider this as being my first visit to the re-named Crown Oil Arena. Even if I had been before, it looks as if all four stands might have been replaced in the last thirty-five years and so it would have been a ‘Trigger’s broom’ dilemma anyway.

I had no real preference as to which team I wanted to win. Rochdale had ex-Boro full-back Robbie Stockdale managing them, but to counter that I’ve a Plymouth supporting mate. I had a look out for Rich in the four-hundred or so travelling fans opposite but couldn’t see him. Maybe he was the bloke in the hot-dog suit.

There was a minute’s applause in the sixth minute in memory of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. I joined in, but I can’t see what these gestures achieve. Twenty years on from the death of Victoria Climbie, children’s voices still aren’t being heard and it seems as if we are a country that considers clapping to be sufficient.

Anyway, back to the game. From what I could work out third-tier Plymouth had put out a reasonably strong side and so I backed their striker Ryan Hardie to score at any time. He barely got a kick though and when he was subbed a few minutes from the end that bet went down.

At that time the scores were level at one each, but Plymouth nicked a winner just before the end to clinch a third round tie that really could have gone to either side.

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