Peterborough Sports’ last Emirates FA Cup appearance is beyond living memory but after a 93-year wait, they are certainly making the most of their return to the competition.
The Turbines can trace their roots back to a club called Brotherhood Engineering Works, who won their first-ever FA Cup tie back in 1919 – the same season they were formed.
After 1922 they never entered the competition again – until now that is. And it’s been quite a return already, dispatching Step 9 sides Eynesbury Rovers and Newmarket Town away from home.
Peterborough Sports v Hitchin Town
Emirates FA Cup
First Round Qualifying
3pm, Saturday 12 September
Lincoln Road, Peterborough
Hitchin Town now await in the First Round Qualifying in what will be another huge step up in opposition, considering they are three tiers above Sports in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division.
But boss Jimmy Dean – who is no stranger to the FA Cup himself – is confident of a good showing in front of their own fans.
“I’m only 33 and I came into help the chairman at the back end of last season, I was captain for St Ives at the time and he wanted me to do a job coaching here, as I’d got to that point where I couldn’t play anymore,” said Dean.
“And the lads have been so hard-working straight from pre-season.
“The first round was a 50/50 game and the Newmarket tie should have been out of our reach on paper, but what a performance the lads put in.
“I’ve played against teams at the same level as Hitchin before and believe me, that’s when the quality steps up a level and they’re that bit closer to the professional game.
“I’ve played for St Ives in a third round qualifying game a couple of years ago against Concord Rangers and I was sent off, so I’m hoping for at least a better game than that! By rights Hitchin are a better team but we will have a go at them and hope for the best.”
And central to much of their success has been the form of striker Avelino Vierra, who has scored 13 goals from just seven games so far.
“We didn’t fancy Vierra initially. I was with him at Peterborough Northern Star, he went to Corby and then Spalding – he struggled with injuries and just wasn’t scoring the goals,” added Dean.
“But he’s settled down, had a baby and since coming here he’s been fantastic and I don’t think he’s got a lot of interest in leaving. I think he feels loved and wanted, he knows he’s the main man.”
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of glory runs in the past and it lives in your memory”
Mark Burke Hitchin Town manager
And on a landmark outing for Sports, it is perhaps fitting that they face a club who have few peers when it comes to FA Cup prestige outside the Football League.
The Canaries helped form the FA Cup and, in the inaugural competition in 1871-72, reached the quarter-finals before losing to 1875 winners Royal Engineers.
And boss Mark Burke is in no uncertain terms a club legend, having captained the side to first round proper victories over Hereford United and Bristol Rovers in the mid-90s.
The FA Cup runs have dried up since then and Burke says it’s about time that changed – although there’s no chance Hitchin will be underestimating their .
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of glory runs in the past and it lives in your memory,” said Burke, whose side have won four of their last five games.
“When we did it 20 years ago we were in the media, on Match of the Day, and you think it’s going to be like that every year. Hopefully this will be our year again.
“Peterborough Sports might be a few leagues below us but we’ve watched them three times already and with the reports we’ve had on their front players, it’s not going to be easy. We’ll give them all due respect.
“It’s been a real team effort so far this season, lads who were 20, 21 last season are now 22, 23 and are maturing while we’ve added a few more younger players to the squad. I’m confident we can have a good season on both fronts.”