To get the Dream you need a sleep

Friday 16th August is probably not a date that means much to fans of the Premier and Football League, but this season it was the date where the first travelers started on the very long road to Wembley.  737 clubs have entered the competition this season and it will be a fair few months before most football fans realise the tournament has actually started. In fact, just two weeks ago I had one of those conversations with a fan of a Premier League club who genuinely asked me whether Lewes had applied to be in the hat for the First Round draw of the FA Cup.

So after finishing last season’s tournament as part of The Dream, the marketing campaign run by official tournament sponsors Budweiser, I was back, 97 days after being at Wembley and just 11 miles to the east in White Hart Lane. Not THAT WHL, but Coles Park, White Hart Lane, London N17, home of Haringey Borough FC.  Except I wasn’t here to see the landlords play.  Instead, tonight the ground would host the Extra Preliminary Round game between Enfield 1893 and London Tigers.  Enfield’s ground still wasn’t ready for football, so fellow Essex Senior League side Borough offered the use of their facilities.  They do that sort of thing in Non League football you know.

As I programmed the destination into the Sat Nav it obviously tried to direct me to the other White Hart Lane.  Week in week out, travelling Premier League fans must arrive at Coles Park wondering what has gone wrong.  Oh how the club officials must laugh – those long winter nights must just fly by in these parts.  The official on the gate as I drove in reminded me I wasn’t going to see any “Spurs” tonight and chuckled to himself.  I handed over my six pounds and drove on.

photo (48)Coles Park is one of those grounds where you can park up and stay in your car and watch the game.  I thought about it, listening to the commentary on 5 Live or TalkSport but having seen the players warming up, I soon realised that I wasn’t safe and moved the car to the corner of the car park.  Beer procured (sorry, no Budweiser – a marketing faux pas) and I met up with the Real FA Cup team who were bemoaning the wrong choice of camera lens.  Amateurs, eh.

The winners of tonight’s tie would face the daunting trip to the winners of the tie taking place 20-odd miles up the A10 between Hoddesdon Town and St Margretsbury.  There are no easy games at this level, as Shearer will tell you.  Enfield 1893 were firm favourites.  If I was allowed, I would have placed a tenner on them.  Alas, the FA rules deem that because I hold an official position as a Director of Lewes FC I cannot bet on any game in the competition.  Not quite sure how I could in any way unduly influence the game, but that’s the FA for you. Continue reading

To the dream….

Tomorrow I will be attending my first ever FA Cup Final at Wembley stadium.  Even though I’m not a Wigan Athletic or a Manchester City fan, I am still very excited…oh, and those top chaps at Budweiser have only gone an included a couple of my pictures in the official promotional video, To the dream.  Happy days.

A Posse Ad Esse

Every day I get dozens of emails, promising me the world in return for a little bit of sponsorship.  However, few prick my interest as the one last week that was inviting me to a press conference at Wembley FC where ex-England manager (and footballing “Technical Advisor”) Terry Venables was going to make a big announcement.  Well, Tel and Budweiser.  The American brewing giants had got involved with the club last year as part of their commitment to the grass roots game.  That and the sponsorship of the FA Cup, which of course lives in at Wembley Stadium, its arch casting a shadow of a sunny Vale Farm pitch.

When I arrive I am taken aback.  We were last here for Hendon (their tenants) v Lewes back in September.  Since then the place has had a lick of paint or two, and the brand new clubhouse gleams.  Our hosts have laid on food for the waiting throng – and I mean a throng.  I had been worried I would be the only person here, but the room is packed.  Around 100 people are gathered to hear what this is all about. Continue reading

Down Wembley way

The tie up is quite obvious when you think about it, but it still raised a few eyebrows when it was announced yesterday – Budweiser, the King of Beers has announced that they are entering into a partnership with Combined Counties League side, Wembley FC.  Being a firm fan of the non league ground, I welcome any “big business” getting involved in our grass roots game.

The deal forms part of Budweiser’s long-term FA Cup commitment to grassroots football, championing clubs at all levels and bringing the romance and heritage of the tournament closer to the fans. Budweiser will be working closely with Wembley FC to bring forward infrastructure improvements to enhance the club and player facilities, including a clubhouse upgrade and provision of a team minibus.  Other initiatives include the implementation of a new responsible drinking programme as well as promotion of the club in the wider Wembley community.

Jason Warner, Global VP Budweiser, commented, “We believe that the best way to champion the FA Cup is to celebrate its uniqueness from the grassroots up. Wembley FC has an incredible heritage and story to tell. We look forward to helping fulfil their dreams.”

Budweiser’s continued support of local teams in The FA Cup follows on from last year’s success with the first-ever live streaming of a sporting event on facebook which saw over 30,000 people worldwide view the extra-preliminary round match between Wembley FC and Ascot United. This ambitious move will hopefully see the football underdogs’ FA Cup journey continue further than their First Qualifying Round exit in the 2011/12 season.

Iain Newell, Budweiser’s Marketing Director, added: “The sponsorship of Wembley FC is consistent with Budweiser’s commitment to the sport of football and our involvement with the FA Cup. The type of improvements with Wembley FC will showcase our intent of working with grassroots football in the UK. We have further exciting plans for a grant programme that other non-league clubs will benefit from. This is a joint initiative between Budweiser and The FA and more details will be announced in due course.”

Brian Gumm, Chairman of Wembley FC, comments: “We’re not a big club but we have big ambitions. With Budweiser as our sponsor we now have a shot at making those dreams come true.

For more information on The FA Cup with Budweiser visit