Soccer minnows Shortwood United and Daventry Town are the only teams left in this weekend’s FA Cup from tier eight of England’s football pyramid.
Gloucestershire based Shortwood host Port Vale on Monday whilst Daventry, based in Northamptonshire, travel to Chesterfield tomorrow. Daventry, known by their supporters as the Purple Army, attracted a crowd of 124 to their midweek 3-1 FA Trophy replay win over Wingate & Finchley. That was 35 down on the crowd in the previous round, a local derby against Corby Town.
Yet the Southern League Central Division side is expecting up to 900 fans to travel to the Proact Stadium.
They’ll be cheering on a squad that contains, postman Josh Blake, builder Richard Morris and teacher Ryan Howell.
Manager Darran Foster, a factory supervisor, is glad that the fixture is on Saturday not Sunday. Defender Marcel Simpson is a teacher in the week, a footballer on Saturday and a preacher on Sunday. He wouldn’t have played had the game been on the Sabbath.
Former Northampton Town centre half Liam Dolman, another builder, has experienced the FA Cup first round before, he even made the second round one year, but lost the replay 5-2 at home to Leeds United.
Keeper Richard Morris missed last Saturday’s game...he was on a mate’s stag do in Spain!
Daventry’s progression in the FA Trophy, they’ve reached an all-time best third Qualifying Round slot, coupled with their first ever appearance in the FA Cup first Round, means Saturday’s encounter will be their seventh straight knock-out game. They’ve not managed a league game in over a month.
Their prize fund in the Cup stands at just under £30,000 and they’ve earned more than £8,000 in the Trophy, a drop in the ocean for Chairman Iain Humphrey, who runs a £60m turnover telecoms company. He’s reputed to have put around £1m into the football club, but that would all be worth it if they manage a shock result in North Derbyshire.