Chichester City travel up to Liverpool to face League One side Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup Second Round this Sunday – yes you read that correctly.
After hosting the FA Cup Draw live on BBC at the clubhouse, they are getting their tidy fresh trims ready for the BT cameras, as the game will be shown live across the country – a first for all in action in Green and White.
Many Chi fans are expected on Merseyside, with many as excited for what Liverpool City centre bars and clubs are like compared to the mighty Vestry – but of course all excited to see the players that many have seen week in, week out at Oaklands Park, against a fully professional squad.
In what is a nice touch, Bury FC fans will help fill the away end, after Chi City donated some of the prize money from the first round to Bury FC. I for one am looking forward to seeing them at a football game again, and talking to them about the game we love so dearly, after what has been an unthinkable few months for all involved.
I caught up with Connor Cody, Chichester City’s captain, and spoke to him about this historic day for the club and what it means for all involved.
Here is what he had to say!
How special has this season been for you and the lads so far?
It has been so special for me and all of the lads. It is one of those where we are trying to appreciate how good it really is. It is hard when you are in it at the time, with other competitions to think about too, such as the pressures of the league. Nonetheless it is one of those occasions which will probably never come around again so we are taking in every moment, and as you said, realising how special it actually is.
Did you ever think you’d play in the FA Cup Second Round Proper?
Absolutely not! Individually I think one of my goals was to make it to the First Round Proper, and I feel a lot of non-league players would say the same. As a squad I don’t think that we expected to make it to the first round. We have failed in the past few years to even make it past the extra preliminary round so it has been an unbelievable achievement in both respects, as a team and as a player. To make it to the First Round Proper, let alone the second round, for me is a massive success.
What was it like to host the draw at the club?
It was a fantastic night and a great occasion for everybody associated with the club. It was great to see the place be turned into a TV studio for the night. The BBC were fantastic and Mark Chapman was really good, a laugh. And as I am sure you saw Scott Jones did very well in front of the camera! So yeah, it was a fantastic night.
What has the build up been like for the Tranmere game, firstly on the pitch?
The build up on the pitch probably hasn’t been as great as we would have liked it to have been. I think we might be a little critical on ourselves as we know now how we can perform as we set the standards in the Enfield and Bowers games. We know how we can defend as a unit, and maybe we have let that slip a little bit, especially in the league. We still have had fantastic results on the road and we are unbeaten in the last four, so it isn’t that we aren’t performing results wise, just I feel as a team we know we need to be as good as we were in the previous FA Cup games because the opposition on Sunday will that one step up again. It has been exciting and everyone is enjoying themselves, but we also know that our performance needs to improve on the pitch.
And off the pitch – is the media attention overwhelming?
It has been enjoyable! Again, it is one of those occasions that will never really happen again in terms of not only making it this far but also the media that has come with it because of the story. We are just looking to enjoy every moment, which includes every bit of the media side. It has been great for me personally for my business as it has helped me get a little bit of spotlight for my work, so that has been great.
Are you excited to play live on BT?
I am trying not to think about it too much! I think out of everything that might be the one thing where the nerves may creep in a little bit. Knowing you are live on BT Sport, I mean I spend most of my Sunday’s sitting at home watching BT Sports and Sky Sports watching other boys play, so it is going to be a very strange feeling for that to be us. We have to try and put it to the back of our minds as the performance comes first, and then we can watch it in the week with a bit of a sore head for sure!
How many fans are you expecting to travel up with the club? How special will it be to see them all behind the goal?
I think we are planning to take 500 or so from the City itself and then we are hoping another 500+ Bury fans are going to make the trip so it is going to be some experiences seeing that many in green and white behind the goal. I hope we give them something to cheer about. It will be a moment to relish and we will treasure the occasion as a club.
Finally, how can we get a result against Tranmere – do you think we could?
I think the first 5 minutes are the most important as they are in so many games. For us it is to try and get a foothold in the game and settling nerves. I think there will be a few nervous lads, and some may let the occasion get to them a little bit and that is completely natural as this unknown territory for all of us. We want to play our way in as we like to play, but we know we aren’t going to have much of the ball. It’s about being as great out of possession as we can because that is going to be the big thing that changes this game for us. They are going to be strong and big from set pieces, but again we need to defend these well. The magic of the FA Cup, that is all I am going to say really!
Let’s hope Connor is right, and the magic of the FA Cup helps us in getting some sort of a result against Tranmere.
A big thanks to Connor for talking to me, and a massive good luck to Miles, his management team and the players ahead of the game – play like I have seen you play on many occasions and we can give it a good go.
Whatever happens in the next week, Chichester City FC will remember it for the rest of their lives, maybe apart from the Sunday night.
See you all Sunday, as I fly up from Jersey for this very special day!