For the players of non-league Epping Forest Utd, the Fonsecca story even filtered into their celebrations of having defeated League One side Port Vale 2-0 in the second round of the FA Cup. “He is a disgrace to football!” exclaimed the team’s captain with most of the team nodding in agreement.
“If it had been one of us, do you think they would have let us back into football so easily?” queried midfielder Andy Treharne.
The entire team also nodded in agreement with the man whom the Epping Forest team considered a key player. After all, it had been Treharne’s play that helped secure the stunning victory. Throughout the match, he thwarted every attempt by Port Vale’s midfield to get the ball up front to create any chances. Then it was his perfect pass that the led to the first goal for his side. Then, in a fairy tale ending, his cracking shot from twenty-two yards out ensured that his team would be progressing to the third round of the tournament. His performance and that of the rest of the team was enough to put talk of football playing rapists out of mind as the celebrations lasted well into the night.
Mixed feelings of wonder and astonishment, along with the fear that the small club had bitten off more than they could chew surfaced when it was announced that Epping Forest Utd would be playing Premiership side Tottenham Hotspur in the third round of the FA Cup. The sports media immediately began running stories of a David and Goliath battle. The Spurs manager stated that his team would take this match as seriously as they took all of their matches while the Forest manager humbly stated what a great opportunity this was going to be and he was hoping for a bigger giant kill. All that Andy Treharne could think about was whether Felipe Fonsecca would be playing for Spurs that day.
Fonsecca’s return sparked all of the contraversy everyone expected. Many women boycotted Spurs matches home and away. Opposing fans jeered him at away matches with chants of “rapist” and “criminal.” These acts only seemed to motivate him more as he scored three goals in his first five matches with his old club. In interviews, he thanked Tottenham management and supporters as well as the people of Great Britain for giving him a second chance. His demeanour, however, came across as arrogant. It was though he was sticking two fingers at the people of Britain and especially the woman he raped. It made Andy feel sick to his stomach.
Everyone with any sort of attachment to Epping Forest Utd, from players, to management and fans, all agreed that the FA Cup tie with Tottenham was going to be the biggest match in the team’s history. The atmosphere around their tiny ground reflected it. At home matches, the stands were full to capacity as newly found supporters came to cheer them on. In the weeks running up to the big tie, Epping Forest won three matches and drew one, climbing to the top of their division. There were even posters around the town wishing their team victory.
In the final days before the big match, the minnows focused their attention on the task ahead. Manager Steve Drury made sure that his troops were mentally prepared for the chance at history but this couldn’t keep the sour taste out of Andy’s mouth when it was confirmed that Fonsecca was going to be in the Spurs line up that day. He felt it was just wrong that the criminal would be on the same pitch as him and confirming in his mind everything that was wrong with football at the highest levels.
There were other distractions during the days leading up to the game but they were more pleasant ones. Normally empty stands at training sessions were now filled with well wishers wanting to see the team that was going up against Spurs. After training sessions, Andy and the rest of the team, found themselves signing autographs and posing for selfies with their new followers. Posters appeared in the windows of local businesses cheering the team on. Even at his own job in the City of London, fellow members of his firm wished him luck. All of this should have taken his mind off of Felipe Fonsecca.