Chichester players set for 'biggest game of their lives', says Darin Killpartrick

Friday 29 Nov 2019
Darin Killpartrick (centre) watches on as Chichester City take on Bowers & Pitsea

Chichester City’s players are gearing up for the biggest match of their lives, according to first-team coach Darin Killpartrick.

The Isthmian League South East Division side face Tranmere Rovers in the Emirates FA Cup second round on Sunday after receiving a unique bye in the first round.

They are the lowest-ranked side left in the competition and they have negotiated six rounds to get to this stage, with their Cup journey beginning in the extra preliminary round on 10 August.

Tranmere v Chichester City
  • Emirates FA Cup
  • Second Round Proper
  • 3pm, Sunday 1 December 2019
  • Prenton Park
  • Live on BT Sport 1
“It’s an incredible story,” said Kilpartrick, who joined the club at the start of the season following a 20-year association with Bognor Regis Town.

“Eighty per cent of the squad were county league players last year. The management team [manager Miles Rutherford, assistant manager Graeme Gee and first-team coach Danny Potter] did a magnificent job with them and got them up.

“Now we’ve gone on this run which has just been amazing.

“Getting the bye was an unbelievable feeling – it was mayhem in the clubhouse! – but more importantly the work we all put in to get into the first round was incredible.

“The players and management team need to be congratulated for getting us this far.”

Indeed, Rutherford and Gee have improved Chichester almost immeasurably during their four years in charge, steering them to promotion last season, not to mention this year’s Cup run.

City's Cup run
  • EP: Erith Town (3-1)
  • P: Bridon Ropes (7-2)
  • 1RQ: Chalfont St Peter (2-0)
  • 2RQ: Hartley Wintney (1-0)
  • 3RQ: Enfield Town (1-0)
  • 4RQ: Bowers & Pitsea (2-1)
And Killpartrick believes the money Chichester will receive from the prize and broadcast funds will have a similarly transformative effect on the west Sussex club.

Chichester have already collected £82,390 from this season’s Cup run with a further £54,000 up for grabs if they get past Tranmere – not to mention £75,000 for being broadcast on BT Sport.

“It’s massive,” said Killpartrick. “Absolutely massive. There’s no other way of putting it.

“The club nearly went bust 18 months ago. The players were having cold showers but we had no money to get the boiler fixed. Thankfully there are some very good people behind the scenes who helped out.

Killpartrick (left) during his days with Bognor Regis Town

“The money we’re going to get from the FA Cup will be huge for us. Huge.

“I’m not exactly sure what the chairman’s plans for the money are – all I do know is that it’s in good hands.”

Killpartrick played in the FA Cup second round for Bognor and, with five tiers between Chichester City and League One Tranmere Rovers, he realises the size of the task ahead.

“This is a massive step up for these players,” he said. “There’s a huge gap between us and Tranmere. Like I said, a lot of these players were playing county league football last year.

“I don’t think they will realise how big it is until we pull up outside Prenton Park on Sunday.

“This is the biggest game of their lives, no doubt about it. But we’re confident we can stay competitive. We’ll give it our best shot.”

By Glenn Lavery