David Conn: Farnborough turn romance into heartbreak and fiasco
Saturday 08 January 2005
The Conference side Farnborough scraped some of the romantic lustre off the Cup in 2003 when they switched their fourth-round home draw with Arsenal to rake in more money from the higher crowd at Highbury - a decision which led to the Football Association outlawing such moves, a frustration to Yeading, who have been advised their own ground was not safe enough and would have loved to run out at St James' Park tomorrow.
Farnborough and their manager, Graham Westley, garnered all the write-ups back then, yet the Arsenal game turned out to be Westley's last at Farnborough; he left immediately to become the manager at Stevenage Borough.
Unusually, Westley owned the club too, having scooped Farnborough out of financial crisis in 1998, and he had funded Farnborough's rise, signing players on eye-popping wages including, it is understood, one on more than £100,000 a year. When he left, he withdrew his funding, several players' contracts were then cancelled, meaning they could move on free transfers, which they did - joining Westley at Stevenage, who had to pay nothing for them.
Farnborough were left depleted, with big contracts for some remaining players which had to be settled. Westley gave his shares to Vic Searle, who came close to selling them to Tony Theo, a players' agent and Farnborough enthusiast, but sold instead to two other men, Tony Turberville and Ron Higgins. Theo reacted by holding a sit-in in the club bar for a week last August, before finally agreeing to stay on as the club's managing director.
Just last month, Farnborough avoided being wound up by the Inland Revenue only by coming up with a cheque on the day they were in court. "It is very difficult," Theo told me this week, "hard to see a future here." This is not the stuff you will see on Football Focus on third round day, a time to celebrate the innocence and Corinthian spirit of non-League football.
Latest in Sport
Karim Benzema to Arsenal: Real Madrid striker fuels speculation he will join Gunners with cryptic Instagram post
Chelsea vs Barcelona: what channel is it on and how can I watch it?
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Arsene Wenger hits back over Jose Mourinho's claims 'buying success' ahead of Community Shield
Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool – highest and lowest transfer spenders revealed
Outraged Vietnamese fan burns Manchester City tickets after being snubbed by Raheem Sterling, Samir Nasri and others
- 1 Dentist who illegally killed Cecil the lion blames local guides for the scandal
- 2 Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
- 5 Walter Palmer: American dentist revealed as the killer of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government