HENLEY TOWN make their first foray into the FA Cup for eight years tomorrow (Saturday) when
HENLEY TOWN make their first foray into the FA Cup for eight years tomorrow (Saturday) when they travel to Brimscombe and Thrupp for an extra preliminary round tie, kicking off at 3pm, writes John Bailey.
Although, like most other small-town sides, the Town have seldom made much of a mark in the FA Cup, they can claim to have played a small part in helping to put the competition on the firm footing it was soon to achieve.
When Henley first entered in 1879-80, only five of the 54 sides who took part (Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Reading and the two Nottingham clubs) play today in the Premiership or the Football League, most of whose 92 memberships had still to see the light of day.
While national cup competitions quite often bring together sides that have never met before, it is remarkable that Henley and Brimscombe have now been paired as they were already scheduled to make their first ever meeting — in the league following the Town’s promotion.
Brimscombe is a couple of miles south of Stroud and the most prominent club in that area. They claim to find their roots in a team formed in 1886, though the two original village clubs amalgamated only in the Seventies.
It is during the last seven seasons that they have really come to prominence. In 2010/11 they won the Gloucestershire County League and were promoted to Division 1 (West) of the Hellenic League, which they won at the second attempt.
Moving into the Premier Division, they have successively finished 12th, 10th and fifth of 20 teams, last season also reaching the third round proper of the FA Vase and then going out only after a replay. In the current term, they have won three, lost three and drawn one of their pre-season games, mainly against strong opposition.
To confuse those Henley supporters who have not yet adapted to their team being called the Red Kites, Brimscombe’s nickname is the Kites’ old one â€“ the Lilywhites.
In the event of a replay being required, the sides will meet again at the Invesco Perpetual Triangle on Tuesday, kicking off at 7.45pm. The winners will again be involved in an all-Hellenic affair in the next round, visiting the winners of Carterton and Highmoor/Ibis.
Also tomorrow, Henley Town Reserves make the short journey to Reading YMCA for a friendly game that kicks off at 2pm.
Last Friday evening, Henley lost their unbeaten pre-season record when entertaining Wokingham and Emmbrook. Asa Povey put the Town in front in the second minute, but goals in the 28th and 75th minutes brought Wokingham their victory.