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Friday Freebie: Non-league clubs deserve their moment to shine
The spotlight doesn't come around every year
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A couple of weeks ago we talked about the FA Cup, replays, changes, and the fact Horsham were shunted to a Friday night but not for TV purposes. Here we are now after a fantastic weekend for non-league sides and some sides certainly upset the apple cart.
Horsham went someway with that, coming from behind to draw 3-3 at Barnsley to take the League One side back to the Camping World Stadium next Tuesday night, a TV date and the chance to cause a full cupset.
Cray Valley one level lower did the same, a derby against Charlton saw the Millers also come from behind on TV to secure a replay next Wednesday at the Artic Stadium and like Horsham the opportunity to take their place in the second round.
But if you fast forward twelve months or longer both those games would have gone straight to penalties if the big boys are allowed to have their way in a competition they don’t take seriously nor do they have jurisdiction over, or at least you think they don’t.
The games next week for both clubs are worth a fantastic amount of money regardless of whether they progress or not. Whilst the appearance fee of £25,000 might not sound a lot in the grand scheme of football, to non-league clubs it’s a windfall that doesn’t come their way every year.
Add in the prize money banked so far, gate receipts as well and there is a pretty penny to be made so why are Premier League clubs hellbent on scrapping replays?
Well, because they play too much football of course, and with their huge squads they can’t cope with a few extra games chucked in. Never mind the likes of Cray Valley and Ramsgate who started out in August on the road to Wembley and currently in mid-November have completed less than 10 league games, Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday for themselves for a good six weeks or more to catch up, the prices of success coming their way.
But the spotlight, the money, the accreditation of getting so far in the cup, non-league clubs love it. They know within a few months of finally exiting the competition they’ll be forgotten about but the memories these runs create of course last forever and noted in the history books.
Whilst those who have enjoyed watching the games against the big boys, you would hope some, even 1%, come and watch the league games, granted Horsham average close to 1,000 per week, as a player nothing beats playing in front of a crowd and a decent size one at that.
These clubs will file away quietly once non-league participation is over, safe in the knowledge they’ve put their club on the map, they’ve been talked about and they’ve enjoyed every minute of it, replays should be here for good for the many, not abolished for the few.
What do you think? Should replays be here to stay or should the few get their way? Let me know in the comments below.