FROM SITTING DUCKS TO CUP FLIERS

The Non-League Football Paper - - FA CUP FIRST ROUND PREVIEW - By Matt Bishop

REACHING the FA Cup first round is a dream for ev­ery Non-League side, but be­fore this sea­son, just win­ning a game would have been enough for Shaw Lane chair­man Craig Wood.

Seven years ago, the Evo-Stik North­ern Premier side be­gan life in the South York­shire Am­a­teur League, and have only been el­i­gi­ble to en­ter the FA Cup three times – each time, fall­ing at the first hur­dle.

How­ever, this term, things are dif­fer­ent for the Ducks. Af­ter bril­liantly beat­ing Bar­row in the fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing round, the Barns­ley-based minnows are rar­ing to go ahead of next Satur­day’s mouth-wa­ter­ing tie with Mans­field. “It is lit­er­ally a dream come true.” said Wood.

“Not only is it amaz- ing that we have won four games, but to get to this stage and draw a League team – it’s a dream.

“Five years ago, our aim was to be knock­ing on the con­fer­ence door and get to the first round of the FA Cup, but that was all a dream rather than a plan.

Mo­men­tum

“All we have done is work hard, and the mo­men­tum has kept us go­ing. We couldn’t have asked for any more.”

Shaw Lane’s his­toric FA Cup run started against Rad­cliffe Bor­ough, be­fore they beat Blyth Spartans, Lan­caster City and fi­nally Micky Moore’s Blue­birds.

“There are usu­ally one or two Non-League teams who do well in the FA Cup, but they are usu­ally well known – we are so new.” Wood told The NLP. “Peo­ple must be like Shaw Lane – who!? The whole cup run has caught every­one’s imag­i­na­tion.

“The Bar­row game was a whirl­wind, I was a ner­vous wreck. When the fi­nal whis­tle went, it was such a eu­phoric mo­ment. All I can com­pare it to is when Ser­gio Aguero won the Premier League for Man City – but ten­fold!” Af­ter missing the live draw, be­cause of a dodgy in­ter­net con­nec­tion on his iPad, Wood is de­ter­mined to en­joy next Satur­day’s game, which is be­ing broad­cast live on BT Sport. “I can’t make pre­dic­tions, but what I do know is that the lads will give ev­ery­thing. We have a squad with Foot­ball League ex­pe­ri­ence, Wembley ex­pe­ri­ence – the oc­ca­sion won’t faze them. If Mans­field turn up and ex­pect a stroll, they will be in for a shock. “This is the high­light of the club’s his­tory. We have to cher­ish it, em­brace it and en­joy it.”

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