Cup fever sweeps Warrington as Exeter await

Thursday 06 Nov 2014
Warrington stopper Karl Wills with his tickets

As the FA Cup returns to the BBC, Karl Wills is hoping to become a star by helping non-league Warrington beat Exeter City in Friday's live game.

But the part-time goalkeeper had to take time off work to queue for tickets for the sell-out clash.

Wills, a 27-year-old web developer, even had to put in a holiday request to take Friday off work so he could play in the biggest game in the history of Warrington Town, who are the lowest-ranked team left in The FA Cup.

“Luckily my HR manager is a fellow Manchester United fan, but she had no idea I was a footballer. 

Warrington Town v Exeter City

The FA Cup
First Round Proper
7.55pm, Friday 7 November
Cantilever Park, Warrington
Live on BBC Two
Winning club will receive £18,000

"When my new boots arrived at the office, people asked me what I needed them for. They didn't know I am about to play in The FA Cup on TV.”

Wills has tried to keep a low profile in the build-up to the game, but it has not been easy in Warrington as the rugby league-loving locals have gone football mad. 

“The whole town has gone crazy,” he added.

“Usually it is a rugby town, and we only get a few hundred people at our games, but the magic of The FA Cup means everyone wants to see what the fuss is all about.”

With a regular capacity of 2,500 at Cantilever Park, tickets for the game sold out in three hours on Monday, and Wills was in the queue from early morning to make sure he could keep his friends and family happy. 

Away from the game Karl Wills works as a web developer

“I was only likely to get three complimentary tickets, but I have 20 or so family and friends wanting to come so I took time off work and queued to get more," he said.

His biggest fan is his Dad, Kevin, who has coached and encouraged Karl since he was five years old. “Dad's more nervous than me – I've never seen him so excited.”

Wills spent one season as a professional, at Crewe, and says there are other players at the club with professional pedigree. 

“Midfielder David Mannix was in Liverpool's squad for the 2005 Champions League final, so there is plenty of big-game experience around.”

“I assume the BBC have chosen to televise this game because they sense there may be an upset on the cards”

Karl Wills Warrington Town

Warrington manager Shaun Reid, brother of former Everton and England star Peter, has used his Goodison Park links to get a couple of training sessions at the Premier League club's Finch Farm training ground.

And as the big game approaches, Wills says it is the opposition who will be the more nervous.

“I saw an interview with their manager and he did not sound too confident,” added Wills. 

“The pressure is on them, while we have nothing to lose. 

"And I assume the BBC have chosen to televise this game because they sense there may be an upset on the cards.”

By FA Staff