Our guest columnist on the attitude needed in the FA Cup first round
AWORD of advice for Football League players as they prepare for FA Cup ties against Non-League opposition next weekend – put your egos to one side.
If your attitude isn’t right, then you could well get turned over. You have to know what to expect – in the dressing rooms you might not have room to swing a cat, the showers might be cold, the pitch might not be what you are used to, the fans will be right on top of you and you will be able to hear everything they say, you might get booted and kicked from pillar to post, it might be a more physical, aerial game.
You need to be ready for every eventuality. Get your mindset right and you will have a good chance of earning a place in the second round.
There are some great ties to look forward to next weekend, starting with my old club AFC Wimbledon going to seventh tier Haringey Borough on Friday night in front of the BBC cameras.
The game is at White Hart Lane but Tottenham Hotspur aren’t involved. Coles Park is the home of Haringey Borough and they will be fired up to turn over the Dons.
This game will be a welcome break from league action for both sides and I’d like to think the Dons will be well prepared to cope with facing NonLeague opposition.
Haringey isn’t going to be too dissimilar to Kingsmeadow and it wasn’t that long ago that AFC Wimbledon were playing at that level. They know what to expect.
Fellow seventh tier side Met Police host Newport County from League Two in another intriguing tie, whilst National League Maidenhead United host high-flying Portsmouth, another of my old clubs, from League One.
Pre-weekend, Maidenhead had conceded 13 goals in two games and had lost five league matches in a row, so an upset seems unlikely. However, former Hammers legend and Maidenhead manager Alan Devonshire will be hoping he can burst the Pompey bubbles.
Another League One high-flyer, Peterborough United, face Bromley on their 3G Hayes Lane pitch and playing on a synthetic surface can be a leveller.
National League South side Hampton & Richmond Borough welcome Oldham Athletic to the Beveree tomorrow week. As a local, I think the place will be rocking and another cracking Cup tie looks on the cards.
When you’re a boy, you dream of playing in the final, but it wasn’t meant to be for me in my playing career.
For some Non-League teams next weekend, knocking out a league club could be their cup final. I don’t think there will be many shocks, but you just never know…
GIANTS: Portsmouth will need to be on their game against Maidenhead and, inset, Haringey’s Coles Park home