Hednesford boss Rob Smith, returning to the New Bucks Head for the first time since being relieved of his duties at AFC Telford United, has led a rallying call to the droves of Pitmen supporters flocking to their local rivals on Saturday.
Both Hednesford and Telford undoubtedly wanted a somewhat more straightforward draw in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, but Smith admits that it will be a fantastic occasion and wants his team’s fans to add to the tinderbox atmosphere.
‘I haven’t been able to use my usual programme notes to ask, so I am personally requesting that as many Hednesford fans as are able to congregate in the stand behind the goal where the away fans are designated at the New Bucks Head and make as much noise as possible.
It can be an intimidating ground and a lonely place for the opposition, so if our fans turn up in their usual exceptional numbers the players will revel in the atmosphere.’
A local clash between two clubs with a deep seated history and rivalry is an occasion to be savoured by both sets of supporters but, adding the personal back stories involving The Bucks, with Smith, his assistants Larry Chambers, Steve Wynn and Chris Brindley, first team players Kris Taylor and The Skrill North top scorer Elliott Durrell all returning to their former stomping ground, Saturday is a massive game.
‘I think returning to your old club always adds a bit of spice and including the fact I’m locking horns with Liam Watson again, after so many occasions before as manager of Telford, it is one of those quirks that only the FA Cup can throw up. It will be a special game. I know my players will not be overawed but they must stay focused on their job. On any park, on any day, this a difficult match.’
Hednesford will be without Matt Regan, unable to play due to the conditions of his loan from Tamworth, so the solid centre half pairing of Ben Bailey and Francino Francis is likely to be reprised, with Wayne Riley still a doubt with a troublesome groin injury and Neil Harvey hoping to shrug off a hamstring niggle in time for the game.
The Bucks and The Pitmen locked horns on a regular basis when both sides were plying their trade in the Vauxhall Conference during the 90’s but the last meeting between the clubs came during the 2006/7 season when Hednesford, managed by Phil Starbuck, and Telford by current Pitmen boss Rob Smith, clashed over Christmas and New Year when both teams were chasing the Northern Premier Division title.
The New Bucks Head played host to a well fought but rather drab 0-0 draw between the two teams on Boxing Day before Keys Park hosted the return fixture on New Year’s Day in front of a record crowd of 3005.
Alas, Telford were the victors through a first half Lee Moore goal, ending Hednesford’s 20 game unbeaten run in the process with Darren Alexander seeing red for a heavy challenge and Dave Whittaker missing a late penalty for the home side.
The Pitmen haven’t won at Telford in over 40 years and after eight attempts during that time, the Hednesford faithful, travelling in huge numbers on Saturday, would love to break that duck although a draw, bringing The Bucks back to Keys Park for a money- spinning replay scheduled for Tuesday 1st October, may well suffice.
Hednesford Town Form – DWLWWW
Previous Result – Guiseley 1 Hednesford Town 2 – The Skrill North – Saturday 21st September 2013
Next Fixture – Gloucester (H) – The Skrill North – Saturday 5th October 2013
League Position – 1st
AFC Telford United Form – DWLLWD
Previous Result – AFC Telford United 0 Worcester City 0 – The Skrill North – Tuesday 24th September 2013
Next Fixture – Histon (A) – The Skrill North – Saturday 5th October 2013
League Position – 8th
KO – 3pm
Address of Ground – The New Bucks Head, Watling Street, Wellington, Telford, Shropshire, TF1 2TU
Travel Club Information
Departure Time from Keys Park – 1.15pm
£7 Gold Members – £10 Non-Gold Members
Contact Ken Leese on 07935 723290
16-19 Year Old: £5
Under 16s: £2