Meet the village team onhbrink of FA Cup history - andyvalre

ผู้เขียน: ที่มา:ต้นฉบับ เวลา:2022-11-24 เรียกดู:

The FA Cup is well underway - and the biggest giant-killing in the history of the competition could be set to take place in an obscure corner of Leicestershire this weekend

Manchester UnitedLiverpoolandArsenalwill certainly not have theFA Cupon their agendas yet but that does not mean that the historic competition hasnt caused its fair share of shocks already - just ask little-known Anstey Nomads.

Currently playing in the Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division North, the Leicestershire-based side are now just one win away from the FA Cup First Round proper.

Whilst there has been some debate over whether they are the first club from their step - the ninth in the English football league pyramid - to achieve that feat, they would, however, become the first village team to reach the first round. An immense challenge awaits them, though, as they come up against National League sideChesterfield- FA Cup semi-finalists back in the 1996/97 season.

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The Spireites are making their first venture into the competition this season after beingeliminated by then-reigning European champions Chelsea last term. Meanwhile, Anstey have already tackled seven opponents in the FA Cup alone this term.

That is a fact not lost on manager Tony Blanchard. Speaking exclusively toMirror Footballahead of Saturdays showdown, he said: Its a dream for these boys. [formerLeicesterCity and Hibernian goalkeeper]Conrad [Logan] has obviously won the Scottish Cup, played in the FA Cup beforebut for the other boys, this will be their biggest game and theyll be very lucky to top this - even the crowd. It is the magic of the FA Cup.

Even some of the players remain slightly starstruck that they are set to tackle a side who took 6,000 supporters to Stamford Bridge last season. Striker Michael Reeve said: I heard that stat I was like what?! Imagine playingChelseaand coming down to Anstey Nomads, it must be a massive drop and shock. Its a great statistic.

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We dont just want to be a statistic, we want to win the game so yeah it will be good to make a name for ourselves.

It is certainly a dramatic turnaround for a club who just five years ago faced the real prospect of liquidation. Everybody is getting on-board with one player in particular having been sent home from school in order to get as prepared as possible for the upcoming tie with Chesterfield.

Even the opposition are doing all they can to make Anstey feel at home having invited the entire squad to the Technique Stadium for their recent 3-2 home defeat toDagenham and Redbridge.

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Reeve, who has six goals to his name thus far this season, said: Ive not really thought that theyre ex-Football League, I just know that theyre a big club. Obviously, we went to their ground and their stadium and its a proper team and its going to be fantastic. Im looking forward to it.

It was weird. Like I said, its a proper team and a proper club. There were about 10,000 people there and its mad and no-one knew who we were so it was funny to be honest.

Whilst many are getting wrapped up in the excitement of the game, it certainly has not been easy to facilitate. Meetings with local police and authorities only saw the game itself given the thumbs up as late as Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, there was a possibility to stage the game at Leicester Citys King Power Stadium - only to see those conversations falter due to concerns for the strugglingPremier Leaguesides pitch.

We did put a request in, obviously Conrad knows them, and they did look at it, manager Blanchard said. They decided on opening a stand for us and a stand for them [Chesterfield] and we thought it could happen at one point. But there was too many games for the pitch.

We were a bit disappointed at the time but actually when I come to think about it, it was about coming to Anstey, selling the tickets and weve pulled it off. Its on our home pitch, its tight and we might bring them down to our level.

Blanchard, 50, had the good fortune of attending FA Cup finals withEvertonin the 1980s but has been taken aback by the demand across the county ahead of the match itself, with crowds set to swell to a couple of thousand.

He said: Listen, its not about the money, its about putting us on the map. I went down [to the stadium] the other day after work and they were queuing out the clubhouse door to get tickets. Whod have ever thought that? Its been brilliant.

Regardless of the huge occasion awaiting the Nomads, that does not mean that the management or the players are set to be overawed. There is a plan in place for the side to find a route beyond Chesterfield and with it secure a place in the First Round proper.

Dont concede - simple. We know what were good at. It might not be good enough against them [Chesterfield] because theyre professional and theyre doing it for a living, Blanchard said. Their tactics and fitness should be better and their ability should be better but well line up not to give a lot away.

We can play. We can play football as well. Its just can we do it against them and everyone put a shift in? This is our cup final.

Forward Reeve also has an idea up his sleeve as he attempts to play a key role in keeping the highest-scoring side still left in the FA Cup alive and kicking in the competition.

He said: Id like to say give me the ball and Ill do the rest [laughs] but its not as simple as that. I think because were playing three up front, get down the wings and use the pace and their full-backs didnt look the best but maybe they didnt have the best day but no I definitely fancy myself against any fullback and centre-half.

Were quite a young team except for myself and the keeper and a couple of others. Theyve got more to gain because if they want to step through the leagues, this is their ideal opportunity on TV and against a great, great team.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether Anstey can book their place in the next round and there is still some way to go until they face the prospect of clashing with the likes of United orLiverpool. Just a victory this weekend would go down in history though and would potentially represent one of the all-time shocks in the FA Cup history.

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