Twelve Sussex clubs continue their FA Cup adventure tomorrow (Saturday).
And as per last season this column will be following the Sussex Non-League vibe as our clubs strive for glory trying to make the 1st Round Proper (on November 9th) and beyond. For any team who survives that far all manner of media exposure and cash will be bestowed upon them.
Who knows they might even have the honour of appearing on BBC’s FA Cup Match of the Day live?
The Fa Cup is all about dreaming but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The 1st Qualifying Round is due this weekend and we have no less than 11 Sussex Clubs going into battle. They are fighting to reach the 2nd Qualifying round on 21st September and bidding to win £6000 in prize money. It’s a huge date in the calendar for all of them.
Tooting and Mitcham v Old Varndeanians 3pm KO
This will be the match of the day as I am planning on making the trip to South London to cover the action. It’s a train trip to East Croydon and then tram around to the Community Sports stadium in Morden. As non-league grounds go it’s a pretty special place to watch football with its huge concrete covered end terracing and well-appointed main stand. Tooting have started well in the BetVictor South Central league with four wins to their name.
Old Vardeanians are County level operating in the Southern Combination Division One and currently sit in 10th place. Its their home ground which fascinates me as its Brighton and Hove’s old ground Withdean Stadium with a capacity of 8500!.
Its going to be a very tough afternoon for all Varndeanian connections but I am sure that it’s a challenge they are all looking forward to. Perhaps a giant killing act might be on the cards!.
Follow the action on twitter @sussexintheFAcup
Leatherhead v Lewes 3pm
There’s already recent history! Both clubs operate in the BetVictor Premier League but have been struggling for form. It’s amazing how the FA Cup can turn up coincidences and this occasion falls into that category. Lewes travelled to Leatherhead last Saturday and won four one.
Leatherhead, who operate out of Fetcham Grove, have a proud and rich tradition but have recently fallen on hard times in the league. They will be an injured animal heading into this Fa Cup match on Saturday which makes them very dangerous. Lewes manager Darren Freeman would have been delighted to get the first win of the season under his belt but will know his team face a competitive afternoon in Surrey.
Its going to be a very interesting afternoon for both sets of fans and you feel the vibe might have to be taken back to the Dripping Pan for a resolution.
Whitehawk v Abby Rangers 3pm
The Enclosed Ground team from East Brighton have had a tough couple of years with Back to Back relegations. They now operate in the BetVictor South East division with young manager Jude Macdonald at the helm. I have always had a soft spot for the Hawk’s perhaps its because of the unshakable determination of their ‘go everywhere’ Ultra’s. They sing for 90 mins! Its been good start in the league as they sit 5th place on eight points.
I fully expect them to overpower County League Abby Rangers who have to make a long trip from the M3 corridor at Addlestone Moor.
Whitehawk, don’t let me down!
Hastings v Worthing 3pm
For anyone at a lose end on Saturday afternoon Pilot Field Hastings will be the place to see a rip-roaring local Derby. Hastings, BetVictor South East are a huge force in East Sussex non-league football and operate out of a fantastic home facility complete with an iconic wooden stand. Worthing, meanwhile, under competitive manager Adam Hinshelwood, are a fast-rising force in West Sussex. They recently welcomed a crowd of 1600 to their Woodside Road stadium for a league match.
You feel that this match could be a real humdinger and its virtually impossible to predict the outcome. It’s the standout tie in Sussex!
Haywards Heath v Hayes and Yeading 3pm
Mid Sussex club Haywards Heath have been on a meteoric rise over the past six seasons under manager Shaun Saunders and are now a competitive force in BetVictor South East.
They welcome Hayes and Yeading to Hanbury Park who themselves have had Fa Cup success in the past. They current operate in the BetVictor Southern Premier South Division but are struggling on just 5 points.
It should be a great occasion for Shaun and all Heath connections as they go for a giant killing act. Whilst the club has enjoyed untold recent league honours an Fa Cup run has somewhat eluded them. It would be wonderful for Mid Sussex Sport if they could get on the roll this season.
Good luck boys!
Ramsgate v Arundel 3pm
This fixture really does embody the romance of the FA Cup when County 2 minnows have to make an extraordinary long journey (240 mile round trip) to face much higher opposition. Ramsgate, right down in deepest Kent operate in BetVictor South East while our boys are in County Division Two.
However, there is a chance of that Fa Cup magic spilling back over the Kent Sussex border. Ramsgate will be low on confidence after a very poor start to their League campaign while Arundel are third in their league.
Its one to keep an eye on!
Bognor Regis v Sittingbourne. 3pm
Bognor, under manager Jack Pearce, are still perhaps the premier non-League Clubs in West Sussex. They have a proud tradition in all the major domestic Cup competitions, and they will be wanting to progress this time around.
Its all set up nicely as Sittingbourne from BetVictor South East have to make a long trip west.
The good folk of Bognor to have a lovely afternoon out and for me the home banker of the round!
Little Common (Bexhill) v Hendon 3pm
Now this is interesting. County League Little Common who are based at The Oval just north of Bexhill in East Sussex have been handed a rather special assignment. Giants Hendon, from Southern Premier will not relish a trip down from North London especially as their league form hasn’t been that great.
While there are two levels different in status this might well be the giant killing act of the entire round if Common can prevail.
Good luck to all connections!
Horsham YMCA v Margate 3pm
Gorings Mead YMCA haven’t had the best of starts in Southern Combination, collecting a solitary win so far. With that in mind its going to be a very tough afternoon when Margate of BetVictor Premier come knocking on the door.
The Kent side are a sleeping giant and again they have had a poor start to their league campaign with just one win so far. There is a long Fa Cup run in their locker somewhere.
Two leagues apart might be a telling factor in this one but if there was to be a replay I would be very interested in attending.
Met Police v Horsham 3pm
This could be a cracker!! Both teams operate at the same level and our boys are on a high after moving into a brand new facility in Horsham. Manager Dom di Paola has his team playing great football and the fan base in increasing week by week. They had a good run last season and will be looking for a repeat.
I confidently predict an away victory!
Chichester City v Chalfont St Peter
The newly-promoted side have enjoyed an exceptional start to the BetVictor South East season and we expect to see a home victory today.
There you have it! Good luck to all our teams on Saturday afternoon. The main focus will come from Tooting but my twitter site will be trying to keep abreast of the other games.
Let’s hope we have a good number of teams in the 2nd Qualifying Round.