FA Cup run a 'godsend' as Raynes Park rise from ashes

Monday 22 Sep 2014
Raynes Park before their Extra Preliminary fixture against Cray Valley

When arson attacks destroyed the dressing room of Raynes Park Vale over the summer, few would have predicted what would happen next.

After vandals destroyed the facilities of the south-west London club at the end of the 2013-14 season, the team has embarked on what has become a record run in The FA Cup.

And club chairman Lee Dobinson said that the the prize money from the sudden bout of Cup form has been invaluable.

Billericay Town v Raynes Park Vale

FA Cup Second Round Qualifying
3pm, Saturday 27 September
New Lodge, Billericay
Winners get £4,500 from the prize fund

"The fire completely gutted the home team dressing room and a lot of the walkway outside," he said.

"Having to do the work on the dressing room that we had to took a lot of money out of our budget that we had for other things, such as the pitch." 

The club was was formed in 1995 following the merger of two sides, Raynes Park FC and Malden Vale FC.

Today they play in the Combined Counties League (Step 5), but have never featured in The FA Cup Proper. 

However, 2014-15 seems to have brought a change in fortunes for Raynes Park Vales, and they now find themselves in the Second Round Qualifying - where they will face Isthmian League Premier Division front-runners Billericay Town.

The remnants of the arson attacks at Raynes Park

So far they have picked up £6,425 from The FA Cup prize fund, and they will collect a further £4,500 should they defeat the Essex side on Saturday.

And the chairman says going a step further would be a dream come true.

"Financially it would be absolutely unbelievable. It would be the icing on the cake," he added.

"We run completely on the time of our volunteers. There's no budget in regard to playing or anything else. 

“The Cup run has been an absolute godsend”

Lee Dobinson chairman

"We've just got a handful of people that help run the club. I'm chairman but I also look after the pitch. Everyone really mucks in and plays their part.

"We were devastated when the fire happened. So the run couldn't have come at a better time."

And of their chances of causing an upset? The chairman was confident in his side's ability to continue their memorable run.

"I've spoken to the manager yesterday and they're optimistic. We've got a few injury problems which is a bit of a worry - but we're confident.

"Financially it would obviously mean a lot, but also for the players - there's a real buzz about the place at the moment and for them to carry on this run would mean the world to them."

By Jamie Reid Senior Writer