The phrase ‘the magic of the cup’ is undoubtedly cliché, however it is undeniable that when clubs like Alfreton Town enter the fray of the FA Cup that there is an enchanting aura that engulfs the atmosphere. The locals at the Impact Arena certainly exuded those sentiments today as the BBC cameras rolled into town for their FA Cup 1st Round match against Newport County.
Alfreton have modern previous history in the FA Cup, reaching a club record 2nd round in 2008/09 and even as recently as 2012/13, the 1-1 draw against Newport today put the Reds into the hat for Monday night’s draw to keep the dream alive.
The fundamental passion that surrounds the FA Cup stems from the benefits that it can bring. As a club it can be extremely lucrative in terms of match revenue and merchandise sales, and perhaps even television revenue and the unprecedented exposure that is afforded by such a feat. Alfreton’s last televised match was against Leyton Orient during their wonderful cup run in 2012/13, giving a wonderful account of themselves in a 4-2 home loss on that occasion.
Arguably more importantly, the passion is extended beyond the club and into the hearts and imaginations of the individual fans, fans who use football as an escapism technique from their daily lives. Supporting a non-league team is never easy and the various tribulations that accompany such a task can be emotionally exhausting, especially during the darker times. The FA Cup offers a welcome distraction from such troubles and gives everyone from the fans, through to the players and all the way up to the owners of such clubs a chance to simply enjoy and get carried away in the experience.
A cup distraction is exactly what Newport County needed, after an incredibly poor start to their season which has left the Exiles bottom of the Sky Bet League Two table in 24th. Josh Sheehan’s wonderful goal creating what seemed to be an explosion of relief for him personally and the vociferous travelling County fans. Despite the Reds’ playing two divisions lower than Newport in the Vanarama National League North, the difference in quality was intangible between the two teams throughout the game and Alfreton embodied their passionate fans to battle back and equalise, defender Terry Kennedy scored his first goal for the club to evoke wild scenes in the ground.
Nicky Law, the longest serving manager in the club’s 57 year history, will have every reason to be proud of his players and a performance which, although scrappy, portrayed how resilient they were in the battle to not gave up on their own FA Cup dreams. The excitement is far from over, Monday night’s 2nd round draw is still in sight and you can be sure every single person involved is relishing the opportunity to do it all again in the replay.