UP FOR THE CUP

We catch up with Non-League’s gi­ant-killing hope­fuls look­ing to etch their names in FA Cup folk­lore

The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS - By Matt Bad­cock

IT’S not just the FA Cup first round proper kick­ing off this week­end, as a small cor­ner of east Lon­don goes back to 1871 when Up­ton Park take on Clapham Rovers. The clubs are etched in the com­pe­ti­tion’s folk­lore af­ter Clapham’s Jarvis Ken­rick scored the first ever goal in FA Cup his­tory. Up­ton Park have re­cently been re­vived and they will take a stroll down mem­ory lane next Sun­day. The game – 1.15pm kick­off – is be­ing played at West Ham Park on the same site of the first FA Cup en­counter be­tween the teams. There will be a skills com­pe­ti­tion for boys and girls, with a spe­cial tro­phy for the win­ner, be­fore the two sides take each other on to cel­e­brate their her­itage. Chair­man Jon Hunter hopes long term they club can de­liver top coach­ing to young­sters and, al­though in no way in op­po­si­tion to West Ham United, help fill the gap for lo­cals fol­low­ing the Premier League club’s move to the Olympic Sta­dium. “I’ve al­ways loved the FA Cup,” Hunter told The NLP. “I don’t think many peo­ple had even heard of Up­ton Park FC. They prob­a­bly thought it was West Ham United, pre-Thames Iron­works and that was it. “The more I read about it, the more I re­alised that’s just not true. In fact the foot­ball was started at West Ham Park. There were only 16 teams in the FA Cup then. There are sto­ries of how they got Pre­ston North End thrown out of the FA Cup in 1884 be­cause they were pay­ing their play­ers and bring­ing in pro­fes­sion­al­ism. “So Up­ton Park were the bas­tion of am­a­teurism re­ally and also bring­ing foot­ball to­gether. “If you love the FA Cup, Up­ton Park were part of the birth of the FA Cup.” Al­though de­funct by 1911, Up­ton Park have a rich his­tory. They won an Olympic gold medal when they rep­re­sented Great Bri­tain in Paris in 1900 and the champions of Guernsey and Jersey play for the Up­ton Park Tro­phy an­nu­ally. In the sum­mer, the re­vived team trav­elled to Guernsey for a friendly hav­ing also played in the last game at the Bo­leyn Ground against the Royal Engi­neers. Man­ager Billy Jenk­ins lives on Green Street op­po­site the old ground and has foot­ball in his blood. Grand­fa­ther Bill Jenk­ins was West Ham physio from the mid-1950s to 1966 and treated the likes of Bobby Moore, be­fore dad Bob fol­lowed in the same foot­steps be­tween 1966 and 1990. “We’re recre­at­ing the first game in the FA Cup, vir­tu­ally on the same pitch,” said Jenk­ins, who is also in charge Old Foresters and the Arthurian League rep side. “It’s nos­tal­gic and ex­cit­ing. Peo­ple may look around Ne­wham, Green Street, for an­other team – we’re of­fer­ing some­thing that can pick up a small el­e­ment of what was left be­hind, a bit of the soul, and give some­thing back to this lit­tle com­mu­nity. “We’re play­ing on a park. It might not be top level but it’s got a lot of nos­tal­gia and that’s sig­nif­i­cant. It’s a nice story that traces back to the roots and will hope­fully make peo­ple smile.”

MAK­ING HIS­TORY: Up­ton Park FC as they are now

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