AHEAD of pitting their wits against a side managed by a man called Money, non-leaguers Ossett Town are already quids-in on the FA Cup front.
It has been an eventful past year or so for the Evo-Stik First Division North outfit with their run to the play-off final in the spring followed by the close-season signing of former X-Factor and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! runner up Jake Quickenden and now some potentially historic Cup headlines await.
The Reds will secure their place in the club’s record books if they see off National League strugglers Solihull Moors – who recently named former Liverpool and Fulham defender Richard Money as their new manager – in the fourth qualifying round as they eye their ‘Holy Grail’ of a first-round appearance for the first time.
Grant Black’s Ossett, who visit Moors on Saturday, have reached the fourth-qualifying-round stage of the competition just once before in 2005 when they bowed out 3-2 to more Midlands opposition in Leamington, who triumphed in front of a bumper crowd of 900 at Ingfield.
Just as that run helped swell the Reds’ coffers, so this current money-spinning adventure is also replenishing the club’s kitty significantly, while adding to a palpable feel-good factor too.
Vice-chairman Lee Broadbent said: “How many times do you hear about the talk of ‘the magic of the cup’ and how it is losing it as the competition goes a bit later on?
“For clubs at our level, that is what it is all about. This is almost your season’s budget cemented in place and done.
“To get to one game away from the first round proper, something that the club have never got to before, is fantastic. It is something to really aim for.
“The last round was £7,500 and the previous one was £4,500 and all together, we have earned upwards of 12 or 13 thousand so far. Then, you obviously have your other bits and pieces; the match-day money and gate and bar and food. So far, it has been fantastic for the club on all fronts.
“We have got two coaches of supporters coming down on Saturday and sold the places in about 12 hours. We just hope we can get a third (coach) together and the interest is really building. To be fair, it is built from the good run in the league last year. There is a good feeling about the club at this present time and a lot of that is down to what the manager has created. Hopefully, the backslappers will make some noise on Saturday and cheer the boys home.”
Ossett’s run has so far seen them account for Sheffield FC, Consett, Atherton Collieries and 1874 Northwich, with the latter beaten 5-4 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out following a pulsating replay last week – with substitute Seon Ripley firing the winner.
Character aplenty has been shown already throughout a memorable run by Ossett, captained by former Doncaster Rovers forward Alex Peterson, with the fervent hope being that another chapter or two will be written yet. Broadbent added: “The replay was probably one of the best games I have seen in a long time. It was end-to-end stuff and, after extra time and the penalty shoot-out, I was emotionally drained afterwards. God knows what our manager was like!
“You always like to have a good cup run and anything we do get is an added bonus to what you budget for in the season. The first round is the Holy Grail as such.
“We are a very hands-on committee and while there’s a big prize at the end of it, Saturday will be one of those days out which we will remember for a long time.
“We feel we have taken the club on and the work which the committee have done to stabilise the club and enable it to kick on means the club is in a really good position.
“If you are a local Ossett oligarch who’s looking to invest a little bit of money into a football club, Ossett Town would be the perfect little opportunity!”
Even accounting for a difficult season thus far for opponents Solihull, Ossett head into the tie as big underdogs, according to Broadbent, but neither will they be cowed, more especially given the way in which they defied expectations to reach their Evo-Stik First Division North play-off final in late April, when they lost 4-2 after extra-time to Farsley. Broadbent said: “It will be a tough game. It is easy to say that they are second from bottom and have just got rid of their manager.
“But we are looking at a team who are four divisions above, so we cannot read anything into that.
“But we punched above our weight last season and surprised a few people. Grant has now improved the squad from last year and with the momentum we have gained and team spirit which was forged, it has continued into this year.
“I don’t like to shout it from the rooftops or anything like that, but I firmly believe we have the best young manager in non-league football. His man-management skills are second to none.”