This Saturday across the country, dreams begin and some are dashed by 5pm that same afternoon as the FA Cup makes it 2017-18 debut.
The postman, the construction worker, the website designer and many more will wake up on Saturday morning thinking this is going to be their year for a magical cup run.
370 club treasurers will be hoping the club coffers will be £1500 better off on Monday morning, having progressed through the Extra Preliminary Round.
That’s right the EXTRA Preliminary Round! 737 teams will have trodden the ‘Road To Wembley’ by the time we come to the Final on the 19th of May, the reason for an odd number of teams this year is due to Guernsey declining to enter, and whilst we don’t expect to see a non-league club make it all the way, there are stories, history and many memories to be made over the next 10 months.
Last season we were maybe spoilt but also excited by the performances of National League sides Sutton Utd and Lincoln City, who really raised the profile of the game for the grassroots giving an excellent account of themselves against Premier League opposition on each occasion.
But what can we expect this time around?
Among those 370 clubs starting out are 21 clubs entering the Cup for the very first time.
Some of these clubs such as Framlingham Town, Bearsted and Chipping Sodbury have been in existence since the 1800’s whilst others, AC London, City of Liverpool and Eversley & California are newcomers to both history making and the cup itself.
With the very early rounds quite regionalised there are some local derbies to be found and a lot of ties with both clubs from the same league and also division, those that stick out include Northwich Victoria vs 1874 Northwich, FC Clapton vs Clapton and Newhaven vs Peacehaven & Telscombe.
Clubs such as Wroxham and Chatham find themselves starting a little earlier this time around after last season’s relegations, whilst the likes of Shoreham, Glebe and Rusthall might expect progress after last season’s promotions.
Wonderfully named teams and new 3G pitch
Sevenoaks Town’s new 3G pitch will see its first competitive action, Crowborough Ath and Rusthall will use alternative venues, at Maidstone Utd and Tunbridge Wells respectively, as home pitches are not quite ready.
There are some wonderfully named teams at this level, Billingham Synthonia, Litherfield Remyca and Leicester Nirvana and also an appearance from the Loughborough University team.
The cycle of dreaming begins
Back to those postmen, construction workers and website designers, at least one of them will be at work on Monday morning with an FA Cup goal in their pocket, something to ‘dine out’ on for weeks, months and maybe years.
And for those that do make through, there is little time to reflect on the win as two weeks on from this Saturday, the Preliminary Round takes place and the cycle of dreaming begins once again.
Written by Trevor Knell
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37
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