Beckenham Town v Eastbourne Town – FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Preview

The beginning of a 9 month adventure, and where better to start than Beckenham Town?

Beckenham Town are one of my local non-league sides, with one of the best youth setups in the region. Alongside Dulwich Hamlet, Beckenham Town were the kings of the Bexley and District league back when I still harboured foolish ambitions of being a footballer, and was unsuccessfully chasing shadows in the rain on a Sunday morning.

Now I’m slightly older and not much wiser the senior team are of more interest.

Beckenham Town play in the Southern Counties East league (formerly the Kent League, and still generally referred to as such), at the very tidy Eden Park Avenue. The club have been a mainstay in the division, coming close to winning the Kent Premier in 2006, before ultimately losing out to the reformed Maidstone United. They finished in a solid 8th place last season.

This season Beckenham Town have had a mixed start, with a good a 2-1 away victory at Rochester United being followed by a 2-0 home defeat against Sevenoaks Town

The club have had some FA Cup success, reaching the 2nd Qualifying round as recently as 2011/12, before succumbing to Worthing in a replay.

Beckenham Town

Eastbourne Town play their football in the Sussex County league this season, having finished bottom of the Ryman League South last year, where they had played for the previous 6 seasons. They’re one of the oldest clubs in the country, having history dating back to 1881, and hold claim to being the oldest club in Sussex.

The club have made it to the 2nd Qualifying round in both of the last 2 seasons, and will be looking to make it 3 years in a row this season, despite starting a round earlier following relegation.

Relegation has seen a raft of changes in a playing squad hosting only 6 players that were with the squad last season. Despite this, the club had an excellent preseason, winning 5 of 6 matches, including a 5-1 victory over local rivals Hastings United. Their league season has started with a 3-0 defeat away at Dorking, before beating Halisham Town at home by the same scoreline.

I’d be delighted if the FA Cup season was started with a home win from the local side, however the experience Eastbourne Town have kept following relegation, and their excellent preseason form will see a tough match for both sides.

Links:

Beckenham Town FC: http://www.beckenhamtownfc.co.uk
Eastbourne Town FC: http://www.etfc.biz

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The Extra Preliminary Round – 15th-17th August

While all the talk on the major news outlets is currently of the return of ‘proper football’ in a mere 3 days, just round the corner is also the first ray of light for the boyhood dreams of winning the FA Cup.

‘The Extra Preliminary Round’. The start of a new season of FA Cup magic, hidden away from Sky Sports News, and the BBC, at the lower ends of the pyramid the competition slowly gets into gear again.

This year’s FA cup will see 736 sides compete. By the time the general football world throw a glance at the competition on arguably the most popular weekend of the tournament, 3rd Round weekend, where the big guns grace the competition with their presence, a mere 64 of these teams remain. For a staggering 184 teams the competition ends before the last weekend in August with defeat in the extra preliminary round.

The fixtures for the round can be found on a website looking to encapsulate the meaning for the FA Cup for non-league sides, ‘The Real FA Cup’: http://therealfacup.co.uk/fixtures/ Along with an extremely handy map of all matches: http://therealfacup.co.uk/map/

This round sees a wide range of clubs, varying from phoenix clubs set up in the aftermath of the collapse of the original side, such as AFC Rushden and Diamonds, amateur clubs with a long history and prestige such as Bishop Auckland, and indeed some new boys making their first appearance in the competition including Haverhill Borough.

Non-league football has always been a draw for me. Upon my return to London I would regularly attend games at Dulwich Hamlet, and preseason games at teams like Margate were amongst the highlights of the summer with Millwall.

While Football Manager was devouring my life, it would always be with the likes of Dover and Woking rather than Man Utd and Liverpool. Indeed a visit to Telford to watch Telford v Leigh RMI with other likeminded masochists saw me watching the greatest England game of my generation in a pub with Telford fans as England beat Germany 5-1 away, rather than in a local like most other people.

I’m thoroughly looking forward to starting the FA Cup journey amongst the real heart of grassroots football, the most complicated bit is choosing a match to attend.