News of cup kings Ossett Albion’s sterling exploits have reached far and wide – across to the other side of the globe to New Zealand in fact.
The Dimple Wells outfit’s FA Cup date with destiny finally arrives tomorrow in the fourth qualifying round at Blue Square Bet Conference North side Bradford Park Avenue and Albion can write a fair few more headlines if they see off John Deacey’s troops and book their place in the hat for the first round draw for the first time in their history.
The draw takes place on Sunday lunchtime with the Evo-Stik First Division North strugglers desperate for their cup adventure to continue, with their run capturing the imagination of a growing number of fans, particularly since their giant-killing win over another Conference North side in Hinckley United in a replay in the last round, courtesy of Kurtis Noble’s exquisite volley.
And Albion certainly will not be short on the backing front tomorrow when they make the short hop up to the Horsfall Stadium.
Chairman Stephen Hanks said: “We have had loads of interest. I’ve even been asked if Saturday’s game is all-ticket, but we won’t be taking that many!
“We are not a massively supported club, but with it being a local draw, I’d like to think we’ll take up to 150 there.
“The Lancashire League, who run the reserves league we play in and our scheduled opponents on Saturday, Farsley, have kindly agreed to postpone our game this weekend, which we are grateful for, so all the reserves will be going up, while the ladies’ team are also going to watch.
“Following the victory over Hinckley, we even had an email from a chap in New Zealand, funnily enough. He said he used to live in Dimple Wells House, which I am presuming is now Dimple Wells Lodge, which used to be a hotel which is now an Indian restaurant. He’s lived in New Zealand and said he used to watch Albion 40 years ago and still follows them on the internet.”
With all the pressure on the shoulders of Avenue, Albion, jointly-managed by Lloyd Fellows and Paul Watson, are determined to enjoy their day, soothed financially by the fact that their cup exploits so far have swelled the club’s coffers by £17,000, with another £12,500 available in prize money if they make it through to round one.
So far this term, Albion have largely reserved their best for the cup and with a lucky charm in their ranks, in the shape of former Emley cup hero Steve Nicholson, who reached the third round with the Pewits many moons ago in 1997-98 with their adventure ending at West Ham after memorable giant-killing wins against the likes of Lincoln City and Morecambe, they are hoping their joyride might just continue.
Hanks added: “Steve is the oldest player within the club and he’s the bit of experience that brings the younger lads on a bit at 40 years old. He’s actually been to the third round with Emley and played in their game at Upton Park.
“He’s really excited and is relishing the opportunity of being able to do it again.
“Financially, if we got to the next round, it would stabilise us for two to three years, without a doubt and the prestige would be terrific, having never been into the first round.
“We are a small, family-friendly club, although we try and be as professional as we can. But this is big money for us.
“Although if we did win, I think it will be a spontaneous celebration as we certainly haven’t planned anything!”
He added: “We do have one Bradford lad in our ranks, Richard Tracey, who is ex-Avenue and for us, the whole game is a win-win situation.
“We get our name seen at this level and have already made a fair amount of money and irrespective of the result, we’ll make something out of this tie. We will have an enjoyable day and give a good account of ourselves and with a little bit of luck, you never know.
“As long as we are on our game, we’ll give them a good test. On Tuesday, in the league against Wakefield, we lost and I think everyone’s mind was on the cup game as it was a dreadful performance.
“One good thing was that the Bradford manager actually watched the game, so he might have gone away thinking we are worse than we are, although if we play like that again on Saturday, they will win without a doubt!”
Elsewhere tomorrow, Steve Kittrick’s Guiseley entertain Buxton at Nethermoor, with both sides negotiating replays in the previous round.
FC Halifax visit Lincoln City, while Simon Weaver’s Harrogate Town go to Hyde United.