Following on from last weeks programme notes extolling the virtues of the FA Cup, at least right up until the final Berkshire non league exits stage left, I wanted to wax lyrical about the Berks & Bucks County FA Senior Cup.
It did receive a bit of a bashing last season, not unfairly, after player eligibility rules meant Marlow were removed from the competition and I was concerned the fallout might tarnish what has become an excellent competition full of drama and glamour home ties against professional opposition.
I’ve written before that to me the County Cup is now third in my knockout competition preferences after the FA Cup and Trophy/Vase due in no small part to the changes that saw step 5 sides pitched against their ‘big boy’ county neighbours. And after witnessing the First Round clash between Thatcham Town and Hungerford Town on Tuesday night, any lingering fears I had were put to bed.
The West Berkshire derby was watched by 361 people at the Stacatruc Stadium that the Crusaders won 3-0, though the National League South side didn’t have it all their own way with Thatcham having enough decent chances themselves, particularly through the excellent Kyle Tooze.
I should caveat this by saying the Marlow v Windsor County Cup tie was only watched by 76 at the Alfred Davies Memorial Ground but there were a 100 at Newport Pagnell Town 3-1 Chesham United and a healthy 138 saw Aylesbury United beat Aylesbury Vale Dynamos 4-1 – both figures on a par with the Swans and Ducks home crowds for league ties this season.
It’s a shame that there is still another round to go before the professional sides of Reading FC, Wycombe Wanderers and MK Dons as well as holders Slough Town enter the competition but that’s the prize that potentially awaits the Second Round winners.
I say a shame, because the importance of the competition to first team managers already fighting on multiple fronts will surely hinge largely on attendance – a Hellenic League Floodlit Cup tie at home to a side that’s travelled 90 minutes isn’t likely to trouble attendance records, but a Berkshire derby and a shot at an upset is more far more enticing for a match going supporter with a plethora of midweek options that includes staying in the warm!
There is of course still one more First Round fixture to go on Tuesday 3rd December at Vanarama National League Maidenhead United when Binfield visit York Road for what we think is the first competitive meeting between the two sides.
This article in its original format featured as part of the programme notes sent to Berkshire non league clubs. If you’d like to receive them for your own clubs programme, please drop your email address to [email protected]