Well, our big day is getting closer; Saturday sees us travel to Stockport for our Emirates FA Cup 4th Round Qualifying game with the winning Club receiving the £12, 500 prize money and a game in the 1st Round Proper when the Football League 1st and 2nd Division Clubs enter the Competition.
The game against Farsley Celtic in the 3rd Round Qualifying showed, once again, we have a team more than capable of beating opposition from a higher league having previously beaten Ossett Albion and Trafford as well as Farsley Celtic who all play in the Evo-Stik First North Division.
The great start to this season and in particular our FA Cup run has been of enormous benefit to the Club. Our attendances at Heritage Park have increased and the ‘buzz’ around the Club is fantastic. The prize money from the Cup run means we have been able to increase our playing budget by around 23% of our original budget but more importantly we will be able to maintain this throughout the season which is important as we really do want to win the Northern League Championship.
It was a really bad feeling when we went out of the FA Vase to Billingham Town but maybe it was a blessing in disguise! With our promotion aim the pressure caused by the sheer number of games will be reduced now we are out of that Competition. We are between 3 and 6 games behind the teams ahead of us in the league and most of them will be entering the FA Vase in the next 2 rounds. In addition, the Northern League and Durham FA County Cups also cause fixture congestion so whilst I am not saying we are not taking those competitions seriously we may well be playing some of our St Mary’s Under 18’s players in those games to give some of our first team players a rest and time to recover from the niggling injuries that are always picked up; this will also give the Under 18 players valuable experience and will hopefully help with their footballing progression.
This week saw the Club receive the application forms for promotion to the next level. For many years now we have been the only Northern League Club to make an application. It will be interesting to find out how many other Clubs have the ambition make an application this year. All Clubs have also received an advisory email that the FA are planning to geographically restructure the Leagues in the Pyramid System and in doing so they may have to be some ‘lateral’ movements of clubs. Could some Northern League Clubs be playing in the North East Counties League soon?
The Northern League Management Committee has called an Emergency General Meeting on the 23rd October to discuss the League rule that alcohol cannot be consumed outside club premises i.e. pitch side during games. There are many rumours flying about as to why the meeting has been called but whatever the result of the meeting we, at Bishop Auckland, will never allow alcohol to be taken out of the function room. We are fortunate that if people want to drink during the game then they can stay in the function room.