In the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round on Saturday, August 15, our team (for now) South Normanton Athletic came up against Mansfield. Not Mansfield Town, the League Two club with a 118-year history, but AFC Mansfield, a small community team based in the Mansfield district of Forest Town, making their first appearance in the Cup.
In the Preliminary Round on Saturday (August 29) another big name visits Lees Lane, the tiny yet welcoming home of South Normanton Athletic. It’s Lincoln. But, although Lincoln City are a non-league side these days, it’s not them making the journey westwards. It is in fact their smaller cousin, Lincoln United, who ply their trade in the Northern Premier League Division One South, two steps up the non-league pyramid from their hosts.
But although Lincoln United are three steps down from their city rivals Lincoln City (from the Vanarama National League), they do have some pedigree. On their books are two players with league experience: defender Stuart Reddington and forward Andy Hutchinson. The latter played for Lincoln City, and scored his only professional goal against Bradford City in 2009. He then suffered relegation into non-league with City before drifting between non-league clubs.
Reddington, meanwhile, has a very interesting career. In 1999, aged just 19, he was spotted playing for Lincoln United by a scout from Chelsea whose enthusiasm about him was enough for then Chelsea manager and all round legend Gianluca Vialli to sign him professionally for the 1999/2000 season.
However, he never broke into the first team at Stamford Bridge and was loaned to Swedish side Kalmar FF, where he scored four times in 16 appearances. Not bad for a defender. He then had a spell at Mansfield Town before dropping into non-league football via Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion, who were far from the League One side they are today.
Another note of interest, for me at least, being a Forest fan, is that Lincoln United were founded as Lincoln Amateurs in 1938. However, in 1951, they signed a professional player from Forest, which meant they no longer qualified as amateurs. So the club were rebranded as Lincoln United.
Anyway, the clash at the weekend promises to be a real test for South Normanton Athletic. But myself and my hirsute companion will be there, impartially, on our Cup quest. We’ll also have one eye on the game between Nottinghamshire side Clipstone Welfare and Cleethorpes Town, as the winner of that game will provide our destination for the First Qualifying Round on September 12, such is the pre-determined draw at this early stage.