Competitive football may have only been back a week, but the oldest competition in football returns to the region this weekend as the 2017-18 FA Cup kicks-off at the extra preliminary round stage.
Some 737 teams will be involved in this season’s Cup, from all levels of the game with 370 clubs beginning their FA Cup adventure tomorrow, including local outfits Swaffham Town and Fakenham Town.
After a positive pre-season campaign Thurlow Nunn Premier Division outfit Fakenham suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of newly promoted Coggeshall Town last weekend, so Robbie Harris’s men will be looking to bounce back when they play host to Wellingborough Town.
The Ghosts’ opponents ply their trade in the United Counties League Premier Division and were one of only four sides in the division to get their season underway last weekend, when they suffered a 2-1 defeat at Wisbech Town, at the Elgood’s Fenland Stadium.
Paul Hunt’s Pedlars of Swaffham Town started the season in emphatic style as they thrashed Needham Market Reserves 6-1 in their season opener but his side suffered a 3-2 defeat away to Wisbech St Mary on Tuesday evening (Alex Vincent two goals) going into their tie with Rothwell Corinthians at Shoemakers Lane this weekend.
Corinthians also ply their trade in the UCL but unlike the Ghosts’ opponents are yet to start their competitive 2017/18 season, which should benefit Swaffham as unlike this weekend’s visitors, Hunt’s side are up to full match fitness meaning they should be sharper and quicker out of the traps this weekend.
The draw for the next round of the competition has already been made and victory for Fakenham will earn them the chance to welcome AFC Rushden and Diamonds to Clipbush Park, while the winners of Swaffham’s tie will face a trip to Bedford Town. Both those matches are to be played on Saturday, August 19.
Wins for those sides will not only see them book their place in the 2017/18 FA Cup Preliminary Round, but also bag themselves £1,500 in prize money; a significant amount for most non-league sides.
More important than monetary rewards though, victory for our local sides tomorrow means that they can then start dreaming of embarking upon an FA Cup run; what the Cup is really all about.
Away from the FA Cup, Downham Town are without a game this weekend after opening their campaign at March Town United on Tuesday night.
Goals from Toby Allen, Jack Brand and Casey Logan saw Town slump 3-0 at the hands of the Hares in a derby.
Downham struggled to get into the game in the first half and a couple of individual mistakes saw March enter half time two goals to the good.
Downham came out fighting in the second half and had numerous chances to reduce the deficit, having no fewer than three shots cleared off the line.
It wasn’t to be, however, and March punished Downham on the break as another individual error led to a third March goal.
Downham have a week off before they travel to Whitton United on August 12 hoping to find their first win of the season.
l The Pedlars are mourning the loss of a club stalwart, stating: “It was with great sadness to hear of the loss of Trevor Head.
“‘Oakey’ had played an active part as player, manager, Committee member and enthusiastic supporter of the Pedlars.
“The club would like to share our condolences with the family and friends of Trevor at this sad time.”
His funeral will be on Friday, August 11 at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church, Swaffham at 2pm.