The excitement around the club has been great, says Maidstone United midfielder Jack Parkinson

Wednesday 05th November 2014
MAIDSTONE UNITED midfielder Jack Parkinson says he’s looking forward to playing in the club’s first FA Cup First Round tie for 23 years’ on Sunday.

The Stones travel to Stevenage looking to create an upset against a club that sits in sixteenth-place in League Two.

Jay Saunders has guided the Kent club to second place in the Ryman Premier League table, having collected fourteen wins and two defeats this season.  They are two points adrift of leaders Margate but have three games in hand on Terry Brown’s side.

“We’ve had a great run in The FA Cup this year,” said Parkinson, 25, who is also player-coach.

“I’ve not been in a team that’s had a run like this before. The excitement and buzz around the club at the minute is great – everyone’s looking forward to the game on Sunday.

“It’s going to be a tough game. We’ve got reports on them and DVD’s and had a look through how they play.  They’re a big, strong side, very direct and very strong from set-pieces so we’re expecting a tough test.

“We’re looking forward to it. We feel if we can go there and perform anywhere near to where we did against Welling, we stand a chance, but time will tell.”

Maidstone United have sold out their entire ticket allocation for their trip to Broadhall Way and Parkinson wants to make it a day to remember.

The club started their FA Cup campaign in the First Round during season 1991-1992 when they defeated Sutton United 1-0 at home before going out in the Second Round to Kettering Town, losing 2-1 at home, despite being a Football League club back in those days.

This season The Stones have defeated Littlehampton Town (10-0); Brentwood Town (2-1); Biggleswade Town (2-0); before stunning Vanarama Conference side Welling United 2-1 in front of a sell-out crowd of 2,226 at The Gallagher Stadium in the final qualifying round.

Parkinson said: “The support has been good all season, it’s been great. The excitement around the club has been great. We sold out the Welling game.  The fans can see now it’s a great opportunity for them to visit a League ground and it’s the first time the club have been in this position for a long, long time, so hopefully we can do them proud.”

There is always a non-league club that creates all the headlines on FA Cup day – and Parkinson wants it to be Maidstone United on Sunday.

“We’re hoping that it could be us, but we’re under no illusions Steve. It’s going to be a tough test,” said Parkinson. 

“They’re a League side and they’re a League side for a reason. They’ve got some very good players there as well so you only hope on their day their not at full tilt and a little bit of luck goes our way and if we perform like we did against Welling we stand a chance – but we need those sort of things to happen.”

Meanwhile, Parkinson is delighted that defender Ben Swift, 17, has signed for Premier League Aston Villa on a six-month scholarship, which could lead to a professional contract.

Swift has followed striker Alfie Pavey (Millwall) who has left the highly-acclaimed Academy at Maidstone United to sign for professional clubs.

Parkinson, the club’s Academy manager, said: “I’m delighted for him. He’s a great lad. He’s come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years.

“For a Premier League club to come in and give him an opportunity, he deserves it, I must say.

“Two lads that we’ve had in the last couple of years’ now and it shows we’re doing things the right way.

“If lads want to come into us and push on there’s always opportunities for them to push on.”

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Stevenage  v  Maidstone United
The FA Cup First Round
Sunday 9th November 2014
Kick Off 2:00pm
At Broadhall Way, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, SG2 8RH