Chichester City are making the most of the calm before the storm – but their FA Cup adventure is already getting international attention.
City made history, headlines and a host of new friends last week when they reached the first round of the FA Cup for only the second time in their history then got a bye straight into the second round.
That game, the biggest the club have ever played, is just over a month away and in the meantime the squad have plenty of Isthmian League matches to play, plus a Sussex Senior Cup date at Shoreham next Tuesday.
The management are trying to keep the players grounded and they did well to grind out a 0-0 league draw at Hythe on Saturday.
This weekend brings a home encounter with high-flying Ashford, which City officials hope will attract a good number of their new-found fans.
But all the time, they can’t escape the knowledge that another big dose of FA Cup fame is imminent. City will be in the second-round draw on Monday, November 11, and there is talk the BBC will present their coverage live from Oaklands Park.
Chi City chairman Andy Bell said the reaction to the club’s progress – and their vow to donate to Bury FC, whose financial plight caused the vacancy in the first round of the cup that gave Chi their bye – had been incredible. He said the tweet announcing the Bury donation had been seen by more than two million people.
But manager Miles Rutherford warned: “The next round is a few weeks away and to an extent we need to put it to the back of our minds.
“We have a lot of games to play before then and we need to keep getting positive results.
“We did well at Hythe. They’re one of the favourites for promotion and a point isn’t a bad return.” Coach Danny Potter said the club’s fame had spread fast since they reached the first round and been granted a bye into round two.
“Emmett Dunn’s from Canada and all his friends out there are now following Chi and watching what happens to him and the team,” said Potter.
“It’s the same with Connor Cody. He spent a couple of years in Australia before coming back here and joining us and he’s had messages from friends there.
“Closer to home, Ryan Davidson is pleased it’s half-term this week. He’s a PE teacher at Chi High School and all last week he had pupils singing Chi City songs and chanting ‘Green Army’ along the corridors.
“It’s been a crazy time and as management and coaches, it’s our job to try to keep the players’ feet on the ground.
“But it’s not going to be easy keeping the squad’s attention away from the Cup.
“I think the more senior players are really enjoying it and embracing it – they know this doesn’t happen very often to clubs at our level. Some of the younger players are probably a bit taken aback by it.”
Last Saturday they played their first league game in more than a month away to Hythe – drawing a match that kicked off late after their minibus broke down on the way. At least they didn’t have to worry about affording the repair bill.
City have a virtually full squad for upcoming games. Striker Jimmy Wild is still struggling after having his tonsils out; attacker Callum Overton needs knee surgery.