WE KNOW WE CAN HACKETT!
STOURBRIDGE may have been busy making FA Cup memories in recent years, but boss Gary Hackett says they haven’t had enough just yet.
The Evo-Stik Premier club reached the third round proper last season and pushed League Two Wycombe Wanderers all the way before losing 2-1.
It came on the back of three second round appearances in four seasons, as well as a first round appearance back in 2009.
This afternoon the Glassboys welcome Evo-Stik South Premier side St Ives Town looking to take another step forward in a competition they’ve come to love.
“Having 3,000 fans at Wycombe was an amazing day,” Hackett said. “It whets your appetite for more. It certainly doesn’t lose that. It’s not, ‘Oh, we’ve been here, it’s not as special’. That’s not true. It’s still special. “The FA Cup is still special for everybody. Being brutally honest it’s been devalued for the really big clubs at the top, but that happens. “Very much for the Non-League and Football League clubs it’s an amazing tournament. For us Non-League guys getting through a few rounds is exciting. We’d like another run. But we’ve got to win three more games before we reach that first round proper. We’ve done it five times in eight years but we face a tough prospect in St Ives. They’re in the Southern Premier, we’ve had them watched, and they are a decent side. We’ll need to be on our game.”
As well as the memories, the cup runs, the spotlight and the prize money they’ve brought have had a deeper impact at the club.
Defender Dan Scarr bagged a move to the Championship with Birmingham City, while it’s also helped them to improve their ground and grow their fanbase.
“Without doubt it’s improved the facilities,” Hackett said. “Secondly, it has massively raised the profile of the football club. It’s an easier sell for players coming in. As important as anything it has massively improved the fanbase.
“We were the top supported side in our league last year and our gates this season, again, have been very healthy. Season ticket sales have been great too.
“Maybe a few years ago you’d see West Brom, Villa, Wolves shirts in and around Stourbridge. Now you get a decent smattering of Stourbridge tops around. That’s great to see.
“We’ve got around 24 junior teams now so it’s just raised the whole profile. We’ve had some great days and hopefully we can create some more.”
Hackett’s side are fifth in their Step 3 division after nine games, but he believes they can play better.
“It’s a tough league,” Hackett said. “We haven’t been at our best this season so far. We’ve had a lot of new faces, we lost a lot of key players at the end of last season. Our points contribution has been decent, our performances average.
“I’m pleased with our attitude that we’re grinding out results when we’re not playing well. But I’d like us to play a bit better and be more emphatic with our victories. It’s not always that easy.”
CUP KINGS: Stourbridge celebrate last year’s cup exploits under manager Gary Hackett, inset