Sole representatives from each county do battle at Shoemakers Lane
As Norfolk and Suffolk football clashes go, there is only one place to be tomorrow as the sole representatives from each county do battle in the Third Round Proper of the Buildbase FA Vase.
Swaffham Town are hoping for a bumper crowd as they attempt to take their historic run in this season’s competition one step further against Thurlow Nunn Premier Division outfit Stowmarket Town.
The Division One North Pedlars have already made club history by reaching the last 64 and are out to cause another upset against the Old Gold and Blacks at Shoemakers Lane.
Swaffham would normally see home crowds of about 50 or 60 people but hope to swell that number to more than 200 for the visit of the Premier high-flyers who are believed to be bringing more than 100 supporters to the tie.
Pedlars boss Paul Hunt said: “It’s the biggest game I’ve ever been involved in, especially when you look at the teams locally who have done well in the competition in the last few years.
“Everyone at the club is really buzzing about the game and with us flying the flag for Norfolk we’ve had some really nice messages from other clubs wishing us well.
“It has already been a massive achievement by the players to get this far but we’d love the adventure to continue.
“Stowmarket are a well-supported club who have really raised their profile in the last couple of seasons and they have some quality players.
“We will give them the respect they deserve but we won’t be intimidated by them.”
Underdogs Swaffham are no strangers to causing a giantkilling in the past and five years ago earned national recognition on the BBC Radio 5 Live phone-in show 606 after beating Wisbech Town in their first-ever FA Cup tie.
They’ve already accounted for higher-league Framlingham in this year’s competition before knocking out an excellent May and Baker outfit 1-0 in their own back yard.
“It’s exciting times,” admitted Hunt, who hopes to have experienced duo Dean Miller and Kyle Plumb fit and back from injury.
“As a manager you are there to organise the team, but ultimately it’s the players who have got us to this position.
“They’ve been excellent all season. In the last round they showed great character and strength to beat a very big May and Baker side who were technically very good too.
“We were chuffed to come through that and now we’re looking forward to this.”
Stowmarket manager Rick Andrews said: “I’m looking forward to it. Even more so now that it’s a chance to reach the next round (and equal the club’s best ever run). It’s a great opportunity.
“They will be dangerous. We’ve been to Swaffham before and we know what they’re about. They’ve got some quality players.
“They will start as underdogs but they will be relishing the task. They’ve already knocked out higher opposition, so we won’t be treating them lightly at all. We’ve got two coaches of supporters going, which is unreal. We’ll be going there to do our best to create a bit of history.”
n Elsewhere this weekend, King’s Lynn Town Reserves host Harleston Town in Thurlow Nunn Division One North while Fakenham travel to Diss and Downham are also on the road at Mulbarton Wanderers.