Today is the start of our FA Cup campaign. From the moment the draw was made back in July, we have been looking forward to starting our long journey to HA9. For all Non-League sides, the Road to Wembley will ultimately end in disappointment, but there are financial degrees of disappointment. Last season our campaign started on a high in the scorching sunshine at Redhill but ended two weeks later with a feeble capitulation at Hendon. Whilst the Wembley Arch was tantalisingly close for us to see, it would be another 12 months before we could dream the dream again.
Every year one or two Non-League clubs go further than their wildest dreams. Our colleagues from East Thurrock United and Met Police have reached the 1st round in recent years, and last season Hastings United traveled to Middlesbrough in the third round with the hopes of all grassroots teams with them. Every year we hope it will be our team. That is the beauty of these rounds of the FA Cup. No egos, no attitudes, no moving games for TV, no guts, no glory. Every team has a story to tell about past glories, unique tales and legendary fans.
At 3pm today we will at Piddinghoe Avenue, home of Peacehaven and Telscombe FC, just a few miles down the road and over the South Downs from Lewes. This is what the FA Cup is all about. The conditions, the slope of the pitch and the motivation of the players – that’s what makes the FA Cup qualifying rounds so special. Hundreds will be crammed into the small ground, probably getting soaking wet, watching every kick as eleven of the players will end the tie battered, bruised but one step further to being household names for a weekend.
My conversations with colleagues this week have been full of hope and promise. Few knew where Peacehaven was, even fewer that they had a football team. Of course I educated them on how the town was formed back in 1916 and named through a competition in the Daily Express, which was one by a Mrs Ethel Radford from Leicestershire and the fact the town sits on the Greenwich Meridian. ”The place where Tiffany’s ashes were scattered in Eastenders? And where Jimmy rides off the cliff at the end of Quadrophenia?” they asked. ”Absolutely.” Everyone deep down knows about Peacehaven. Continue reading