Thursday 27th October 2005

Fisk: We enjoy playing in the FA Vase

This Saturday sees the bulk of the Kentish Observer Football League clubs in action in the FA Vase, writes Martin Whybrow.

This cup, along with the FA Cup, provides clubs at this level with the chance of glory on the national stage. Unlike the FA Cup – where a club will ultimately hit opposition from too high a level to continue – the FA Vase pits teams of a similar standard against each other all the way through to the final, so offers a real chance of success.

That chance has been grabbed by Kent clubs in the past, most notably in 2000 when Deal Town won the final at Wembley.

Hythe Town are one of the clubs with the longest trek on Saturday, heading down to VTFC in Southampton.

Hythe have their own pedigree in the competition, albeit going back to the mid-1980s when they reached the semi-final and quarter-final in consecutive seasons.

Although Saturday is the First Round proper, there is still some way to go but everyone can dream.

In this season’s competition, Hythe have won at Pagham (6-2) and at home to Moneyfields (2-1). This means they have won twice as many matches in the FA Vase as they have in the Kent League, a situation that has left manager, Paul Fisk, scratching his head.

He feels the players are perhaps somewhat more relaxed when playing opponents from outside the Kent League.

The club finished sixth in the league last season and there has been the weight of expectation on the players this time around. In contrast, in the FA Vase, Hythe were arguably under-dogs in the last round, with Moneyfields unbeaten in the Wessex League at that stage and having hammered Tunbridge Wells 5-0 in a replay.

"The FA Vase is something for the players to enjoy and look forward to," Fisk told www.hythetownfc.co.uk

"It is a day out for the supporters as well and I think everyone likes meeting teams from different leagues."

"There are also financial benefits from a good cup run as well as the buzz from being in the draw for the next round."

Nevertheless, Fisk admits that it is league wins that are most in his mind at present. "I don’t think anyone expected us to be in this situation," he admitted.

In some ways, the cup wins (there was also success in the FA Cup at home to Raynes Park Vale) have sometimes disguised the league form – but a glance at the table brings a reality check. After games like that of last Saturday (a narrow defeat at Herne Bay), he says you almost wish you had a game the next day.

"You want to keep going until you get things right," he added.

At least Fisk can field a more or less full strength team. Former Ashford Town striker, Lee Blackman, making his return from injury in last week’s reserve team match, picked up another knock and is doubtful, but everyone else is expected to be available. The one exception is recent signing from Sevenoaks Town, Jon Mayall, who is cup-tied but might still prove to be a useful asset.

By coincidence, VTFC won 3-2 at Sevenoaks in the previous round, so Hythe will be looking to Mayall for some inside information. 

VTFC or Vosper Thornycroft FC, to give them their full title, are linked to the shipbuilders of the same name and play in the Wessex League.

No one from Hythe can remember playing them before so it is certainly a step into the unknown. A glance at the league table finds them mid-table, with fairly mixed results to date. Of course, no doubt VTFC have had a glance in turn at the Kentish Observer Football League table and will be confident as a result – but that might be to under-estimate Hythe Town’s cup form this season.

VTFC v Hythe Town
FA Vase First Round
Saturday 29th October 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm