Ascot might be more famous for its Royal Racecourse than its football team, but on Friday night The Emirates FA Cup takes centre stage as Ascot United face Milton United in their extra preliminary round tie.
The Yellamen finished fourth in the Hellenic Football League Premier Division last year and with Friday’s opponents Milton relegated, assistant manager Paul McGrotty fancies their chances of booking a spot in the next round against Didcot Town.
Ascot United v Milton United
The Emirates FA Cup
Extra Preliminary Round
7.45pm, Friday 5 August 2016
The Racecourse Ground, Ascot United FC
By David Bates
Though they have been shifted to a Friday night slot to accommodate Saturday’s racing, the former Sutton Coldfield Town man thinks a win could propel them into Ascot’s sporting limelight.
McGrotty – who is in his sixth season in-charge alongside manager Jeff Lamb – says historic Cup heroics, from the likes of Sutton to Hereford, provide more than enough motivation for his men.
"The Emirates FA Cup is special and it is great that it is a Friday night game too, so we will hopefully get a good crowd out," he said.
"You only have to look at what has been achieved over previous seasons, the teams from this level of football, the further they go, it gives hope to everyone and that is the beauty of The FA Cup.
"We have been in The FA Cup a few times and never had great success compared to The FA Vase, so it would be nice to get a win on Friday and look forward to a home game against Didcot.
"Two home ties would be very exciting for the club. We enter at an early stage, so we want to build the momentum and start to draw in a crowd.
"It is just great to be involved and the further you go the more people notice you and come out to watch."
FA Cup history
The Yellamen made their FA Vase debut in the 2010-11 season before playing in The Emirates FA Cup for the first time the following year. Their tie with Wembley was the first-ever FA Cup match to be streamed on Facebook live and attracted a then-record attendance of 1,149 to the Racecourse Ground.
Milton United’s best Cup performance to date came in the 2014-15 season when they made it through to the first round qualifying. They have made it through to The FA Vase second round on three occasions, the last being in the 2004-05 season.
One to watch
McGrotty insists it's not the individuals they have who could make a difference, but the blend of youth and experience that can pull them through against Hellenic League rivals Milton.
Not to mention McGrotty’s own experience – the Ascot man has had nearly a decade with the Berkshire club.
"There’s people who have played in FA Cup games and there’s the youngsters who are 16 and 17 that are around the squad," he said.
"For them to say they have featured in an FA Cup game is great for their football CV.
"We can only look forward to the first game against Milton on Friday, but the aim is to go as far as possible.
"We will approach it as we would any other game."
Did you know?
Ascot United were awarded FA Charter Community Club status in 2004 and it is easy to see why – they field 55 teams every weekend, including four senior teams and five women’s teams.
Milton United formed in 1909 and was a founded member of the North Berks Football League. Back in those days they went under the name Milton Hill.
The winning club will pocket £1500 and progress to the preliminary round for a home tie against Didcot Town, who went all the way to the first round proper last term