Avenue go for the glory after missing glamour

NOT every non-league club gets a decent draw in the first round of the FA Cup. Just ask Bradford Park Avenue.

Once a proud member of the Football League and three times quarter-finalists in the FA Cup, Avenue had been hoping for a taste of the big time after reaching the first round for only the second time in the last 41 years.

But while neighbours FC Halifax landed a televised encounter with League One leaders Charlton Athletic, Avenue were pitted against AFC Totton of the Evo-Stik Southern Premier League.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It is hardly the stuff FA Cup dreams are made of but chief executive officer Bob Blackburn views the game as an opportunity to progress even further in the competition.

“We would have liked Bradford City and I’m sure it would have ignited the interest of the public in our city,” he said. “But once we sat down and thought about it, we decided it was a winnable tie.

“We are trying to make our preparation as good as anything our players have been used to. We have travelled down on Friday and we have a nice hotel in Southampton booked. Everyone will go out for an evening meal and the players will have a little bonding session later in the evening,” he added.

Manager John Deacey insists his players can feel justifiably proud of their progress in this season’s competition regardless of today’s result.

“I think they just have to go out and enjoy it and make sure they remember it,” he said. “They have got to take memories from the match because they won’t get there that often. Totton might not be a household name but it’s still the FA Cup first round and that’s a great achievement for these players.”