Last month, I wrote about the romance of the FA Cup. That competition is an English soccer tournament open to more than 700 teams — from local semipro clubs to some of the best teams in the world.
Every year, it seems, one obscure, lowly team makes a deep run in the tournament. This year, it’s Boreham Wood, from England’s fifth division. Over the weekend, the Hertfordshire club knocked off Bournemouth, the third place team in the second tier and a strong candidate for promotion back to the Premier League.
Kidderminster from the sixth tier nearly claimed a bigger scalp. The Harriers took a 1-0 lead over West Ham, one of the best Premier League teams this season, into “stoppage time.” A goal by England star Declan Rice forced overtime, where the Hammers prevailed 2-1.
But Boreham Wood made it to the final 16 and an away match against Everton. That means an outing at Goodison Park for the Wood’s Kane Smith.
He’s a lifelong Everton fan, and not a casual one (are any Everton fans casual?). Smith celebrated the win over Bournemouth in a Tony Hibbert jersey he was wearing under his Boreham shirt.
Hibbert is an Everton legend in his own way. The Liverpudlian right back played 265 times for Everton, all at full tilt. He didn’t score in any of them, though he did net a goal in his “testimonial” match, which prompted the fans to invade the pitch.
When the Boreham Wood players enter the Goodison pitch, via that old tunnel about the width of an airport jetway, it will be the thrill of a lifetime for Kane Smith. The romance of the FA Cup persists.