STAVELEY Miners Welfare chairman Terry Damms is expecting a big crowd at the Northern Counties East League Premier side’s Inkersall Road ground.
St Ives Town travel to Derbyshire tomorrow (Saturday) to play Welfare in the quarter finals of the FA Vase. The biggest game in the club’s history. The biggest game in both of the club’s histories.
The home team’s chairman told the Staveley website: “It promises to be a great day.
“There are at least three coaches coming from St Ives so we anticipate there could be a crowd of around 500.
“To make it through to the last eight is a fantastic achievement when you consider that 539 teams entered the competition last year.
“With what we’ve got on - a League campaign as well as other cups - we haven’t really thought about the W word yet.
“This is as far as the club’s ever got. In some respects, it has to be the club’s biggest game ever, just on the fact that it’s a national competition.”
The W word is, of course, Wembley - a two-legged semi-final awaits the winners of this one, and then it will be a trip to the country’s premier stadium for the remaining pair.
United Counties Premier Division St Ives beat Gresley, another Derbyshire team, 4-0 in their last-16 game two weeks ago. Two goals from star striker Conor Washington and one each from captain Lee Ellison and substitute Scott Fielding did the damage that day.
And that’s why the club’s secretary Simon Clark is so confident that St Ives will be in the draw for the semi on Monday.
“If we perform like we did against Gresley then there is no-one who can match us,” he said.
Plus, he was keen to point out, the 200 to 250 fans who will travel north will play such an important part, too. “We can generate such an amazing atmosphere. If the fans are like they were at Long Eaton, Peacehaven and Tunbridge Wells in previous rounds, that will help the players.”
Washington and his strike partner Junior McDougald were both ‘rested’ for St Ives’ 4-0 away win at Thrapston Town last Saturday, having both picked up slight knocks in their midweek United Counties League Cup victory over Bugbrooke St Michaels.
It is 19-year-old Washington who will be the team’s major threat up front again - but because of his absence from the team sheet, the representatives from Stavelely who visited Thrapston may still be unaware of just how good he is. When Washington is on song, he can tear a defence a part - especially at this level.
After the last round, Gresley’s manager Gary Norton was clear in his praise for the youngster. “We’d done our homework on him and we knew he was a great player with pace and good movement,” he said, adding: “He was mustard!
“Washington uses his body fantastically well for a small guy and he caused us problems all afternoon.”
St Ives managers Jez Hall and Warren Everdell will be hoping the striker causes Staveley the same problems...
Quarter finals: Shortwood United v Herne Bay, Staveley Miners Welfare v St Ives Town, Peterborough Northern Star v Dunstan UTS, Bournemouth v West Auckland Town.