Thursday 18th August 2005

Ford: Greenwich was the cheaper option

Just 91 days after former Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira lifted the FA Cup in Cardiff, six Kent sides embark on this season's FA Cup campaign, starting in Saturday's extra preliminary round, writes Stephen McCartney.

After suffering relegation from the Southern League on the final day of last season, Erith & Belvedere start their FA Cup campaign with Hamble visiting Park View Road.

If the Deres are successful they entertain Ryman League division one side Tooting & Mitcham United, which should attract a healthy Sunday gate to Park View Road.

Neighbours Erith Town, who reached the third qualifying round last season, host Sussex Leaguers Hassocks, and if John Kasapi's side come though they will travel to Hillingdon Borough seven days later.

Raynes Park Vale are no strangers to Kent sides in FA competitions and travel to Hythe Town.  However, If Paul Fisk's men come through they'll travel to Bashley.

Sevenoaks Town play their first ever FA Cup tie against Chertsey Town.  It will, however, be the Ryman Second Division club's first competitive game of the season.  Why has the Ryman League started seven days later than all the other league's no-one seems to know?  And why do the Curfews play a FA Cup tie before a league fixture?

If Gary Davies' side win their first competitive game of the season, they travel to Kent League rivals Herne Bay in the preliminary round.  They've already men this season with Jason Lillis' side comfortably winning 3-0 at Winch's Field on the opening day of the Kent League season.

Thamesmead Town host Abingdon United and a trip to BAT Sports awaits Paul Blade's men if successful.

But VCD Athletic will host Hastings United next weekend if they beat East Grinstead Town on Saturday.

Former Wales and Everton goalkeeping legend, Neville Southall is the manager of the Ryman League division one club, and Vickers boss Martin Ford admitted their borrowed ground at Harrow Meadow, the run-down home of Greenwich Borough will be a culture shock to Southall and his players.

"No doubt several eyebrows were raised when we decided to ground share with Greenwich Borough," Ford said on the club's website www.vcd-athletic.co.uk

"For the record we did not have much choice, with the return home this season we do not have much money to waste and with a shortfall expected from the Football Foundation we need to save as much money as possible.

"The Greenwich deal was better for us financially and also a lot closer to our (Crayford) home so it made more sense to leave Lordswood.

"I know Greenwich is no place but we have been made very welcome and we get on with it and make the most of it."

As we know, Harrow Meadow, based in Eltham Green Road is not the most hospitable location in the county and Hastings won't relish changing in wooden, vandalised dressing rooms and playing on a very poor pitch.

But Ford is relishing the visit to Sussex County League side East Grinstead - a club he knows plenty about.

He revealed: "This week we are in FA Cup action when we take on an old club of mine in the shape of East Grinstead.

"I spent an enjoyable couple of months on loan there when I was on contract at Crawley Town, so I know the club very well.

"They have laid a new pitch there this year (take note Greenwich Borough!) so we are looking forward to the match.

"I will, together, with (coach) Grant Spelling watch them at home on Tuesday night and hopefully I will be able to do my homework on them.

"I would like to win this one so we can have a crack at Hastings United the following week.  I bet they cannot wait to visit the Borough!"

Ford, however, insisted his side should have got more than a point from their opening Kentish Observer League game against former landlords, Thamesmead Town.

"There would be no doubt that my opposite number, Paul Blade would be the happier of the two managers after Saturday's game," he said.

"Although we were still some way off our best I felt overall we were much the better team.

"Unfortunately we were unable to kill them off when we had them at 2-1.

"Fair play to Thamesmead though, they defended well and after they got back to 2-2 they enjoyed a good ten minute spell where our young goalkeeper had to be at his best.

"Overall I was very pleased with how we played with several new signings on show.  We passed the ball very well, looked sharp and fit and despite giving away a couple of soft goals, looked very solid at the back.  All in all a very pleasing start for us."

East Grinstead Town v VCD Athletic
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Saturday 20th August 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm