the real fa cup

Runners Up

As you’ll probably have now gathered, The Real FA Cup Team Of The Year for 2010/11, as voted for by the fans, was a close run thing between two teams. We’re hoping to get a few words direct from each club about what the Cup run has meant to them as a club and a community. We start with the runners-up, Hythe Town.

Hythe Town Football Club were the first Kent League club in 54 years to reach the First Round Proper of the FA Cup, winning six games starting way back in August before losing in November 5-1 away to League Two’s Hereford United, who play five steps above minnow Hythe.  These games including a well deserved 2-0 home result against Blue Square South club Staines Town.

Hythe Town Chairman Paul Markland recounts the club’s FA Cup adventure.

“You often hear about the magic of the FA Cup but until you’re truly involved you can’t appreciate just how amazing the experience is for a small football club like Hythe Town.  The further we progressed the more surreal and exciting it became.

We played our sixth FA Cup 20110/11game in October against Staines Town.  They arrived with over 200 supporters in club colours complete with drum and club songs and I knew our usual small crowd would never make themselves heard.  But the turnstiles kept clicking until over 500 locals were in the ground supporting us, the underdogs; that’s the drawing power of the FA Cup.  The atmosphere was superb and the euphoria afterward, courtesy of an unexpected and classy 2-0 win, was tremendous – we even had a pitch invasion!

The media attention after being paired with the full time professionals of Hereford United was unprecedented – and really enjoyable!  The FA Cup itself even made an appearance at our ground on the Sunday before the Hereford game courtesy of The Sun; who would ever have thought that would happen at little Hythe Town?

The whole town was so excited about the Hereford game and we took over 300 there – and they out-sang the Hereford crowd, a friendly bunch I must say.  We even met with FA Cup legend Ronnie Radford.  We stayed over afterwards and to see the players celebrate you would have thought we’d won at Wembley not lost at Edgar Road!

Because of this cup run the profile of Hythe Town Football Club has gone up and we are now known for our current achievements, pleasingly on my watch, rather than those of our predecessors.

Financially the cup run has taken the pressure off during this economic downturn.  We have always been debt free and operated within our limited income but there was never any spare money for the ‘nice to haves’.  Courtesy of the FA Cup winnings we have finally been able to give our club house a long overdue refurbishment – a lasting legacy of this cup fun.  This is one of the ways money from the top level can cascade down to the grassroots of football where comparatively small amounts can do a lot of good.

Recently we heard about your poll and I am delighted with the response we’ve had locally, even though the Kent vote has been split between us and our nearby friends Dover Athletic, who have many times our support.  I know your poll is only a bit of fun but to compete so closely with a well known and well supported big city club like FC United of Manchester is a tribute to all our supporters, friends and players; it’s humbling to realise that tiny Hythe Town seems to such have a fund of goodwill out there.

Everyone involved with Hythe Town Football Club has had a tremendous once-in-a-lifetime experience in this year’s FA Cup and we all have many memories to treasure; truly the FA Cup is magical.  Next year it will be someone else’s turn and we’ll understand how exciting it will be for them too.”

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Hythe Town are currently lying 2nd in the Kent Premier League, two points behind Herne Bay with a game in hand. Ryman League look out.

1 Comment
  1. Really enjoyed reading that. Obviously I’d seen the Hythe story from afar but to read it from the perspective of someone involved in it really does highlight, to use the old cliche, “the magic of the FA Cup”. Good luck to Hythe for the rest of the season.

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