After last season’s cancellation of my FA Cup Quest due to factors which included my wife being ill for the Extra Preliminary Round match, to weddings getting in the way, and then a massive trip to Australia, this year I can at least give my time to games. Looking at the calendar of planned cup dates, I have a clear run, so let’s get started.
If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, read the About My Quest page, but basically, my plan is to plot a route to Wembley, bouncing from team to team as they meander along a course through the World’s oldest and best cup competition.
This year’s starting point has been changed from the original plans. I was due to attend Leicestershire side Kirby Muxloe’s game against Heanor Town. The rationale being that I have friends in Kirby Muxloe and I was born in the Derbyshire town of Heanor. However, those friends are away for the weekend. So with one vital component of the plan now missing, I decided to start a little closer to home. And you can’t get much closer to home than East Midlands Counties League – Premier Division side, South Normanton Athletic.
The town of South Normanton is just about bang on 3 miles from where I live. It’s 2 miles from Alfreton and 8 miles from Mansfield; it sits close to the Derbyshire-Nottinghamshire border in Amber Valley.
The significance of the mention of Mansfield is in reference to the side South Normo (colloquial) will be playing – AFC Mansfield. They are a new team in comparison, having only formed in 2012. They play in the Northern Counties Eastern League Division One, the 5th tier of the non-league pyramid, the same as South Normanton Athletic. The game will be their first ever in the FA Cup.
Because of the close proximity of the two sides, it’s a bit of a local derby: Derbyshire versus Nottinghamshire.
So come 3pm tomorrow at the MJ Structures Arena, or Lees Lane in old money, my FA Cup Quest will have begun in the Extra Preliminary Round, the very first rung on the ladder.