Croydon FC’s long road to Wembley will start next month with a tie against Tunbridge Wells, after the FA Cup draw was announced this week.
Croydon, under new management, play their first pre-season friendly this afternoon against Chipstead, as the squad seeks to get match-ready for the demands of the Southern Counties East League, and their FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round which will be played at Croydon Arena.
The winners will earn a trip later in August to Corinthian-Casuals, two of the most famous names in the history of football’s Victorian era.
Croydon will be keen to secure the £2,250 of FA cash in prize money for winning their first tie, as they take on a side who finished 10 places below them in the league last season.
The Kent club boast that they are full of lawyers, architects and doctors. In the FA Cup though they have a claim to fame having set a Preliminary Qualifying round record penalty shoot out when they won against Littlehampton Town 16-15 after 40 penalty kicks in 2005.
It will only take six winning qualifying rounds for Croydon or their neighbours and rivals, Croydon Athletic, to reach the first round proper of the Emirates FA Cup in November, when the likes of Sunderland, Charlton Athletic and AFC Wimbledon enter the draw.
Croydon have done it before, getting to the second round against Millwall in 1979.
A total of 736 clubs have entered this season’s FA Cup, with 366 others across the country joining Croydon and Croydon Athletic on August 11.
The Trams’ cup tie will be a very early test for their youthful new manager, Craig Davies.
Croydon FC were last season’s stronger local team, with an impressive fifth place in the league.
Athletic face what seems likely to be easier competition at their Mayfield Stadium, when they take on Rochester United who were relegated their division after a torrid 2017-2018 season seeing them conceding 108 goals and finish with a -63 goal difference. The Rams will welcome the home draw – it is the first time in six years that they have had a home draw, and they have been bundled out of the cup at the first time of asking on each of those previous five years.
The winners of the Athletic v Rochester game will play at home against Crowborough Athletic or Hanworth Villa of the Combined Counties League.
The Preliminary Round ties, should the Croydon clubs progress, are to be played on August 25.
Croydon FC’s pre-season friendly fixtures are:
Jul 7: Chipstead (H; Lanfranc School)
Jul 14: Forest Hill Park
Jul 21: Barnet U23s (1pm kick-off) and East Grinstead (3pm kick off) (Lanfranc)
Jul 25: Bromleians (A)
Jul 28: Lingfield (A)
Jul 28: Balham (A)
Southern Counties League fixtures are expected to be published on July 19.
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