FRICKLEY Athletic, Macclesfield, Tamworth.
FA Cup banana skins which have proved as slippery to Hartlepool United as one Nicky Southall did to a certain Richard Shaw on an icy January afternoon back in 1993.
Pools have endured the full gambit of emotions when it comes to the world’s most famous domestic cup competition.
Ask many Victoria Park lifers about the late penalty Southall earned in 1993 and then they will tell you that the subsequent 1-0 victory over Premier League Crystal Palace was overdue reward for earlier debacles, like the Vic defeat by the miners from Frickey in the mid-80s.
Likewise the Tamworth defeat in 2005 can be viewed as payment in advance for the 2-0 third-round victory four years later over top-flight Stoke City.
And so to the impending visit of the Match of the Day television cameras and non-league neighbours Blyth Spartans for next month’s second-round clash.
Never mind thinking that defeat could pave the way for a famous third-round victory over a Chelsea or Manchester City in 2017.
Paul Murray’s side can ill afford a live humiliation in front of a nationwide audience.
Confidence for the ongoing League Two survival battle would be shattered and make Pools an even more difficult sell to potential signings come the January transfer window.
For what it’s worth, I believe Murray’s men will triumph, not without the usual fright, of course, and secure a familiar home date with Palace.
The two clubs have cup history aside from the 1993 tie and wouldn’t it be ironic to see former 1970s Vic winger Neil Warnock running up and down the other side of the touchline after his side concede another telling penalty?
PENALTIES or the lack of them have certainly played their part in Sunderland’s fortunes over the last month.
There’s the one Steven Fletcher should have got during the 8-0 surrender at Southampton last month.
Then there’s the one Warnock and co should have got in the opening seconds of Sunderland’s deserved 3-1 victory at Palace a fortnight ago.
Warnock’s ungracious attitude at the end of the game was in sharp contrast to Black Cats boss Gus Poyet after yet another penalty call in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Everton.
On this occasion the spot-kick was awarded with Leighton Baines’ conversion denying the home side a gutsy victory.
Poyet’s verdict? Not only was it a penalty but his own player, Connor Wickham, should have been sent off for the foul.
With Wickham escaping even a yellow card, by my reckoning that still leaves Sunderland one up on their luck.
I wonder then if Poyet will be as charitable if the officials wrongly even things up at Leicester City a week on Saturday?
THINGS usually even themselves out at Newcastle United too.
So it would be premature to suggest that five wins out of five means the in-form Magpies have somehow cracked it on the field.
Five wins could easily become five defeats and more points are urgently needed before December heralds consecutive fixtures with Chelsea, Arsenal, Sunderland, Manchester United and Everton.
Mind, lose that handful and owner Mike Ashley may even unclench his own fists come January to protect his investment from any relegation fears.
As we saw nearly 12 months ago, it’s just a shame the club rarely splash the cash from their occasional position of strength.
COULD Middlesbrough pass one or other of their North-East rivals in the opposite direction come May?
Saturday’s frustrating 0-0 draw with fellow promotion chasers Bournemouth was not the first time Boro have failed to beat sides in and around them this season.
Their trick, and it is a clever one, is that they usually recover from such setbacks quickly and routinely beat the teams they should beat.
Next up? A trip down to the Championship bottom three and managerless Wigan Athletic. Surely New Manager Syndrome won’t weave its temporary spell yet again?