By Dave Kemp.
Homework done and it’s time to take another test for Graham Rix’s footballing students who, after crushing fellow Wessex Leaguers Fawley 3-0 to reach this stage of the competition, now need to step up and meet the challenge of Mangotsfield United who themselves visit Wicor Rec in search of FA Cup glory.
Already the Portchester boss has studied what the Mangos have to offer in terms of their high hopes of progression in the prestigious competition – reading a detailed report from his chief scout who travelled to see them beat hosts Winchester City last weekend and earn three Southern League points in a two-goal victory.
And what’s good for one should also be good for another and it would be no surprise if one of the Mangotsfield managerial staff slipped in to Wicor Rec last Tuesday evening to see Portchester blast five past Fawley, earning themselves a first win of the new season after a disappointing couple of home defeats to Horndean and Blackfield & Langley.
But league positions and ambitions regarding promotion for both sides are shelved in the short term and its cup glory that matters – plus a good few quid up for grabs to the winners.
And whoever succeeds this afternoon will earn a lengthy trip to either Bodmin or Bideford in the next round – and a winners prize of £3000 to help swell the coffers.
So for now it’s very much game on and one that manager Graham Rix is really looking forward to, having tasted success as a professional in his time with Arsenal and England, picking up a winners medal in one of three Wembley FA Cup final appearances for the Gunners.
“It’s a wonderful experience at any level of playing to step out and represent your club in any competition but the FA Cup is definitely up there at the top of the list, said Rix.
My lads are really buzzing and they know what it means to go out this afternoon and take on a club that has great experience of playing Southern League football, something that we have set in our sights for the future.
Of course, even at this level we can all dream of going on to beat all that stands in our way and reach the final at Wembley, personally mine is a home draw against Man United in the third round – and end up having a row with my chairman Paul Kelly who reckons it would be better to change the venue from Wicor Rec to Old Trafford.
Reality tells me it won’t happen but for now, let’s get on with the job here this afternoon and see where it takes us – hopefully down to Devon to meet Bodmin or Bideford in the next round”.