No less than four out of our five participating Non League teams find themselves in the hat for 4th Qualifying on Monday morning.
And that’s an exciting prospect for football fans here in Sussex. When teams step out on 15th October they know that a win could bring famous old clubs like Sheffield United, Millwall, Bolton, Charlton, Blackpool and Portsmouth here into Sussex for the 1st round proper.
Burgess Hill Town were Pride of the County when beating Cadbury Heath of Bristol, six one at the Green Elephants Stadium. The Mid Sussex club, as managed by long serving boss Ian Chapman, have been working hard to rebuild the team ready to launch an attack on Ryman Premier League. It all seems to be gelling into place as not only are they competing well in the league (they play Havent at home on 4th October why not get down there) but are making waves in the FA Cup. I am sure that Chairman Kevin Newell is very pleased with the positive financial implications of 3 wins thus far (Gbp 15,000 won in prise money) but he knows it’s much more than that. A winning run in the FA Cup brings prestige and media coverage here in the town and farther afield.
It was one of Town’s legends who made a name for himself when producing a magical hat trick. Super Pat Harding has been a real ambassador for BHTFC and is the fans favourite. We all sing his name with gusto on the terraces. Pat takes great pride in trying to reach 20 goals per season and his 3 yesterday will serve as massive confidence boost going into a busy period for the club. Don’t be surprised to see his name on the score sheet again very soon.
Whitehawk Fc of Conference South made excellent progress when beating Merthyr Town two nil at the Enclosed Ground, East Brighton. New boss Richard Hill knew that the visitors would be very tough to break down and so it proved. Hawks had to weather an early storm and were pleased to go into the break nil nil. In the 2nd half the game opened up and it was the Sussex club who made the breakthrough midway through. Sergio Torres, from Argentina, is still making FA Cup headlines as he scored the 2nd late on. The lad is a hero amongst the Whitehawk Ultra’s as he always gives 110% effort to every game. Some of you will recall that he scored a late late FAC winner for CTFC at the Broadfield against Derby County (I was there !)
Eastbourne Borough Fc are still in the Fac Cup thanks to a nil nil home draw against Hadley Fc (Herts County League), as managed by Micky Hazard. Even though there was a gulf in league positions this was never going to be easy for Borough and so it proved. Judging from twitter reaction the game at Priory Lane probably wasn’t very spectacular but in the FA Cup its all about not losing. The team will travel to Hadley (near Barnet north London) mid week and know that they will have to find an extra gear. I send them all the best and really hope they can get into the next round.
Hastings United Fc, the lowest ranked club from Ryman South, faced a very tricky test at Conference South Margate FC. My best friend John and I decided to make the trip and caught the 9.30am Ashford Express. On pulling into Margate some 3.5 hours later it did seem as though a very sharp shower had just passed overhead. Station staff were sweeping away great puddles. After a stroll along the front and a nice ‘greasy spoon’ lunch we just about to jump into a cab out to Hartsdown when a tweet alert came through ‘game off’. It turned out that the sharp shower had been a near biblical event, the high street 6 inches under water and hail stones the size of golf balls ! Oh well, we turned our sights to the Turner Centre, afternoon tea and a 3 hour train ride home a nice day out in the end.
The teams will try to do it all again on Tuesday night. Its not ideal but at least Hastings are in the hat. I am very tempted to make the trip so please stand by for twitter feed on the night.
The only real casualty came at Conference South St Albans where Worthing United Fc bowed out of the Cup. I send best wishes to the Rebels as they continue their 1st season in Ryman Premier League.
So for BHTFC, Whitehawk Fc, Eastbourne B Fc and Hastings Fc its going to be fascinating few minutes as the draw unfolds today (Monday 3rd October 11am).
This column wouldn’t be complete without a mention to up and coming Haywards Heath Town FC. Shaun Saunders and his team took another stride forward with a one nil league win at Hanbury against Littlehampton. The lads just keep churning out victories. Get involved soon !
More from me in early September.
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