It's been a long time, maybe too long for FA Cup success, says Bromley coach Hugo Langton
Manager Mark Goldberg has guided The Ravens to The FA Cup First Round for the fifth time in eight years and they welcome Vanarama Conference neighbours Dartford to Hayes Lane on Saturday.
The game presents a great opportunity for one of the Kent clubs to reach the Second Round.
Dartford last played at that stage of the competition back in 1984, but for Bromley the wait has been even longer – 1945!
“The boys are looking forward to the game. I’m sure the Dartford players are saying the same thing,” said Langton.
“It’s a big game. A local derby as it were. There’s a lot at stake, I guess in a sense that both teams would like to progress through to the next round.
“I think it was you that told me that Bromley haven’t been there since the war.”
There are only six teams separating the two Kent clubs, with Dartford sitting in the bottom four (21st place) in the Vanarama Conference table, with three wins, seven draws and eight defeats.
The Darts, who inflicted Burgess Hill Town’s first defeat of the season in the final qualifying round, suffered a 3-0 defeat up at Grimsby Town last weekend.
Bromley, meanwhile, sit in fourth-place in the Vanarama Conference South table, with seven wins, three draws and three defeats in the league this season and go into the game on the back of a 4-1 win away to Eastbourne Borough.
“Listen, it’s going to be a tight game, a game that’s everybody associated with both clubs is looking forward to,” said Langton.
Bromley suffered First Round defeats to Gillingham (2006), Colchester United (2009), Leyton Orient (2011) and Fleetwood Town (2012) at this stage under Goldberg, but Langton is delighted to welcome Tony Burman’s side to Hayes Lane.
“I thought from my personal point of view I was pleased with it because it’s a home draw,” he said.
“We had to travel to Grays and we’ve been to Evesham. Whilst it’s great to travel, especially when you win because they’re great days and a great journey home and days that live long in the memory, I was personally keen and I’m sure I can speak on behalf of the football club, we wanted a home draw.
“It doesn’t matter we’ve got Dartford, which is great, because there’s going to be a big crowd there.
“Dartford will bring loads of supporters with them and I’m sure Bromley fans will turn out in force.
“Hopefully it will be a brilliant, electric atmosphere. Who knows what’s going to happen?”
While Goldberg has a proud record in The FA Cup, Saturday’s game will be Langton’s debut in the First Round.
“This is my first time here. I’ve got a dreadful record up until this year.
“I played in it 20 years ago, I think I scored in the Extra Preliminary Round but lost playing for a team called AFC Moneyfield. Since I’ve been in non-league for the last seven or eight years or however long it’s been, it’s been absolutely dreadful so from a personal point of view I’m just delighted to be here and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Goldberg deserves recognition for guiding Bromley to the FA Cup First Round for the fifth occasion.
“Listen, without a doubt and I can see why because Mark works so hard,” said Langton.
“Before I went in to work with Mark at the beginning of last season I didn’t realise how hard he did work. All managers have got to work hard but Mark does so much more than people realise at the club.
“I’m not surprised he’s got such a great record in it because he’s a fantastic manager, he’s a great man manager. He’s one of those managers that completely and utterly understands the game and he understands how to win and he understands how key preparation is leaving no stone unturned and he’s a brilliant guy to work for.
“At the moment Bromley’s a great place to be at because of everything what’s going on. We’ve got a great group of players and coaches who are absolutely a pleasure to work with. We’ve got a really happy group and everybody gets on so well and long may it continue.”
A crowd of at least 2,000 fans are expected to turn out in force at Hayes Lane to watch Saturday’s showdown.
“Listen, in football there’s ups and downs and very little in the middle,” said Langton.
“Days like this you look forward to them. It’s why we all work so hard and we put in the hours. We sweat blood, guts and tears and we go the extra mile.
“To be able to walk out at 2:57 on Saturday afternoon it will be brilliant to feel the atmosphere and get the game going.
“I’m sure us and Dartford are ready to roll our sleeves up and go toe-to-toe and we’ll see what happens.
“We’re not fooled by where they are in their league or anything like that. We’re not fooled by their recent results. We know that they’re a very good side and Tony Burman is a very good manager and he’ll have them motivated and have them very organised and he’ll have a game plan.
“They’ll get the full respect from us. We all know each other because we all kick around in the Conference Youth Alliance together as well so three o’clock I guess we’ll go ding-ding, go toe-to-toe and we’ll see.”
Bromley were the favourites for their qualifying round ties against Uxbridge, Grays Athletic and Evesham United, but Dartford are the favourites going into Saturday’s showdown.
“Yes without a doubt,” said Langton. “People keep saying to me that maybe we’re the favourites but I’m not having that. They’re a league above us. If I was a bookmaker you probably couldn’t say, it would probably be evens wouldn’t it?
“Listen, there’s bigger opportunities for giant-killings elsewhere. You’ve got teams like Concord Rangers going to Mansfield and you’ve got East Thurrock going to Hartlepool. It will be great to see those teams do well as well. It’s great to see non-league teams beat League teams as far as I’m concerned. It’s the same saying League One and League Two sides beating Premiership clubs in cups and that’s what it’s all about.”
But the Hayes Lane faithful are desperate to see their team create history and banish 69 years of FA Cup disappointment.
Langton said: “These are one-off games, they’re special and you try to get the message across to the players these are great days, to have no regrets and to give everything that they’ve got for themselves, their team mates, the club, the supporters, the board, their friends and family.
“These are the days and I say hopefully, touch wood, fingers crossed, these are the days you can look back on and go ‘wow, what a day!”
When asked whether the Bromley players appreciate the 69 year wait for FA Cup success, Langton replied: “That’s a very interesting question and one I can’t really answer because at the moment all we’ve spoken about as a group this week since Tuesday night when we met for training, there’s a football match at 3pm on Saturday.
“The club’s got a history, a great history and I’m sure the players are grateful that they’ve got an opportunity to perhaps add to that history and in years to come people can talk about them one day.
“As far as the players, do they look at the history? Maybe? I don’t know. I’m sure they’re aware of it because people talk to them, they read stuff, they hear stuff.
“People are bound to say to them, it’s been a long time, maybe too long!”
Bromley trained on their newly-laid 3G training pitch at the back of their Hayes Lane ground for the first time tonight in preparation for the game.
Langton said: “It was amazing to drive up as you come off Hayes Lane and you drive up the little drive way, which is starting to be revamped as well and to see those floodlights on. I was buzzing to get out there. The boys as well were buzzing just to get out on that surface. We’ve spoken about it for so long for the last three, four, five months, however, long. To finally get out and be the first to go out there when it’s fresh, it was fantastic. What a facility.”
The turnstiles open at 12:00 and there is NO segregation in place for the Hayes Lane clash.
It's all pay at the turnstiles and prices are £12 (adults), £6 (concessions), £5 (students with valid ID) and under 16s can watch the game for FREE.
Visit Bromley’s website: www.bromleyfc.net
Bromley v Dartford
The FA Cup First Round
Saturday 8th November 2014
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF