FA Cup Memories – Series 1:14 Lin McKechnie

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This is the 14th in the first series of exclusive FA Cup Memories from all across the football spectrum.

Every day, having started on May 1st 2020, a new set of exclusive FA Cup memories are being published via this FACupFactfile blog, and today is the turn of an award winning non-league match-day programme producer and editor.

SERIES ONE, No. 14

LIN MCKECHNIE

Connection to the world of Football: Programme editor for Portland Utd FC and committee member.   Mother of a football focused son.   Previously volunteered at Weymouth FC doing office work.  Treasurer with a youth football team.  Throughout, a supplier of bananas!

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The programmes than Lin has produced for Portland United since 2014 have won the Sydenham Wessex League award for Programme of the Year in each of the last four seasons.

First memory of the FA Cup:  Lin says,My first memory of an FA Cup final was of seeing my Dad in his armchair trying to watch the Final on TV (with a long stick in his hand!).  Either 67/68 or 68/69.  What made it so memorable for me was that our TV at that time had ‘knobs’ on it to change the channel.  Whatever channel the Final was being shown on kept on jumping out of position so my Dad had a long stick (around 2 metres!) with a slice cut out to fit on the knob.  However, my Dad was very excitable and passionate about his football and needless to say, he kept losing the channel.

I actually went to the Wimbledon v Liverpool Final that Mark Carruthers mentioned in an earlier FA Cup Memories blog. https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/02/fa-cup-memories-series-12-mark-carruthers/

My late husband, a reasonable footballer, had two tickets for Wembley and took me. I can clearly remember having a stand up argument with a bloke at work because he was a fervent Liverpool supporter and could not understand that a woman should be given the chance to go (he would not have liked the result anyway!).  First time I had ever been in such a crowd.  Quite daunting (mounted police going in and out), loved the atmosphere and passion.” 

Many people’s first memories of the FA Cup are watching the Cup Final on the TV. I wonder how many, though, had a two metre stick with which to use to change the channels. The first TV remote control?

And I’m sure many women who are passionate about football have had similar experiences of sexist comments because of their interest in the game. Thankfully, as with progress in terms of TV remote controls, there has also been significant progress in terms of more enlightened views with regards to who football is for, although there is still much more to be done in that field.

 

Favourite memory of the FA Cup:  Lin says, “My favourite memory is also my most recent experience of FA Cup football …….. still so fresh in my mind.  Saturday, 21st Sept 2019.  Portland were hosting Salisbury FC (managed by Steve Claridge) in the 2nd QR. Portland’s average league attendance over the last three years has been around 127.  We were expecting around 500; so for the club, a lot of extra work – arranging car parking and having marshals and security in place, hospitality on a larger scale.  Stocking up the bar.  More helpers to sell teas/coffees and raffle tickets (the revenue of which is so important for a club our size). 

For me personally, instead of producing 65/75 programmes I was planning on 210.  Salisbury’s history covered three pages and their pen pics, four pages.  Thirty-six pages in total including an up to the minute team sheet inside.  An awful lot of folding, collating and stapling – good friends helped with the printing. 

Pic Lin McKechnie 0

Lin with the Stack of Programmes for Salisbury’s visit to Portland United in the FA Cup

I can remember on the day being busy inside trying to print off the team sheets to go into the programmes (most Managers in the Sydenhams Wessex League are used to me nagging for their squads!); I knew there were folks arriving, but that first time I went outside to hand over the team sheets to the programme sellers, well, I could have cried.  To see the ground so packed!  Queues still coming in, queues at the tea hut.  Such a jolly, party atmosphere.  Portland is well known in the winter for its bitterly cold and strong winds but on that day, the sun was out and it was such just magical. 

Pic Lin McKechnie 2

The game itself did not disappoint the Portland supporters.  A lot of our players more than matched Salisbury.  Alas the only goal was scored on the half time whistle by Salisbury, but I have to admit that even losing, I could not help but be buzzing for days and days after and I know that all the committee members were as well.  That day is as clear as a bell for me – especially helped by the blog by (fellow contributor to this exclusive series of FA Cup Memories) David Bauckham.  (https://dbauckham.exposure.co/out-on-a-limb)  The write up is fantastic and the photos show what a magnificent day it was.  Even our local paper gave Portland Utd FC a two-page spread with action photos. 

The day did not actually end with me celebrating as my son, Ryan, had a head injury.  Carried on playing (bit of Vaseline and gauze stuck to his head) and was all set to go out with the lads later.  Took a lot of persuasion (an awful lot), but he did end up going to A & E (with his going out stuff ready to get changed into – as if that was going to happen!).  Ryan ended up with twelve staples in his head and I understand that the Salisbury player also ended up in a hospital. 

For the record, there was just shy of 600 at the ground that day – and I only had five programmes left!

Well, if you didn’t know what the FA Cup was all about before, especially for non-league clubs, you would do after reading Lin’s terrific account of her experiences of being involved in Portland United’s biggest ever day.

I was at that Portland United versus Salisbury FA Cup match and briefly got to know Lin (or get in her way) and it was heartening to watch her as she not only got on with her usual match-day duties, but also to witness the delight first hand that she was enjoying from experiencing such a fantastic day.

Up and down the country during August, September and October there are hundreds of volunteers like Lin getting involved in ensuring that their own club can make the best of a fantastic FA Cup day. And as Lin says, the rewards don’t just come from a victory on the day, but also from the collective sense of achievement, enjoyment and satisfaction of being involved, and when that is reflected back in the local media then all sensations are multiplied.

 

Thoughts on the future of the FA Cup: Lin says, “I personally would not change a thing about the FA Cup or FA Challenge Cup as I have recently heard it mentioned!!  To me, and I am sure most non-league clubs, it is still regarded as the best competition to be in.  That day v Salisbury not only brought in much needed funds to our Step 5 club, but it certainly put us in a fantastic light and will be a memory that will exist for ever in our records, and with all those watching. 

To have played in an FA Cup game should be something to be proud of.  It still is at our level – that includes the committee, the management team and the players.  Premier League clubs, well, if they don’t want to field their first team, and instead give fringe players a chance, fine, but reduce the admittance accordingly so that the attendance is good – perhaps thereby giving other people a chance to watch.”

Lin perfectly sums up how the FA Cup is regarded by those involved with non-league football clubs whether they be volunteers, fans, players, coaches or board members. It’s extremely important that the FA recognise the impact the FA Cup has on these clubs (and recent improvements in prize money suggest they are beginning to cotton on), and ensure that there is the opportunity for as many clubs as possible to participate in this famous competition.

Every season many non-league clubs are left disappointed that they did not make the cut for that year’s FA Cup. With the re-structure of the national football pyramid it is paramount that the FA Cup is also re-structured to incorporate more non-league clubs and reduce the number left disappointed.

 

My sincere thanks to Lin for sharing her wonderful personal memories. It was a delight to meet her and all at Portland United that sunny day in September, and I encourage everyone to put plans in your diary to go visit Portland United as soon as you can after football resumes. You won’t regret it.

 

No. 15 in this exclusive FA Cup Memories series, the recollections from a football reporter and presenter for the Premier League and BT Sport, can be read by clicking on this link: https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/fa-cup-memories-series-115-becky-ives/

No. 13 in this FA Cup Memories series, the recollections from a match-day commentator for BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’ and others, can be read by clicking on this link: https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/13/fa-cup-memories-series-113-steve-wilson/

You can read this exclusive FA Cup Memories series from where it all started with BBC 5 Live Commentator John Murray by clicking on this link:   https://facupfactfile.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/fa-cup-memories-series-11-john-murray/

Follow @FACupFactfile on Twitter for news of when future memories are published.

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The FA Cup Factfile is THE most comprehensive resource for FA Cup facts & stats. Spanning almost 150 years of FA Cup history, covering over 3,200 clubs playing more than 71,500 FA Cup matches, the FA Cup Factfile contains facts and stats for Arlesey Town to Arsenal, from Liversedge to Liverpool, and from Mangotsfield United to Manchester United. Visit my website https://facupfactfile.co.uk/ for more details on how you can access my vast FA Cup database

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