Wow, wow, wow, what a week it has been at Chesham United. It is one of those where for many years to come many of us will be repeating the words of the Welsh Bard Max Boyce – I was there! Being Chairman of a football club brings a lot of stresses and strains, I’m not after sympathy for that because it can also bring a huge amount of joy, pleasure and pride, and this has been one of those weeks. To use the opening lines of the poem ‘Under Milk Wood’ by Dylan Thomas: To begin at the beginning…
After a tough day out at Braintree last week where we came away with a 0-0 draw, I found myself excitedly watching the draw for the FA Cup First Round live on ITV on Sunday, proud to see the name Chesham United in the draw alongside great football clubs such as Derby County and Bolton Wanderers. I was excited to be in the draw, but also fully aware that we were not actually there yet, we still had a replay to come, which was never going to be easy, but to be involved at this stage of the world’s greatest cup competition allowed me a smile as I quietly hoped and prayed for a home tie. If we beat Braintree.
Before that replay, on Monday evening I accompanied Alex Horne for a live social media interview and podcast recording on The Reposs Non-League Round-up Show. You should be able to find the show wherever you typically watch your podcasts, or you can follow this link to watch a full hour of fun, laughter and information about your club (and about Mousehole FC!) here.
Onto Tuesday and it was FA Cup replay time. Well, what a night it became for our club. It was the highest midweek league gate in October, ever! 826 wonderful supporters turned out when you could have stayed at home and watched the other game happening at Wembley. It was the highest match attendance since the play-off final against St Albans City! The noise and vocal support from the crowd was quite simply phenomenal, and at 9.37pm you woke the people of Chesham with the shouts of joy when Kieran Murphy forced the tie into extra-time with a late late equaliser.
Things had hardly calmed down when eight minutes later the noise was repeated when we took the lead early into extra-time. I know that the following day many supporters were talking about sore throats and lost voices as the drama continued to unfold. Two minutes after taking the lead The Meadow was silenced when Braintree were awarded a penalty, but the place erupted again when our goalkeeper pulled off a memorable save that kept us ahead. Throughout extra-time the singing and the noise from the terraces was magnificent – I am not going to lie, none of us at the club expected such a big crowd and such wonderful support on a cold Tuesday night with England playing Italy live on the television at the same time – you completely blew our minds, and I cannot thank you enough.
However, the excitement was not over. At 10.16pm Chesham United Football Club burst into a mass of hysteria amidst scenes of excitement and celebration not witnessed at The Meadow for a long time. With Braintree, from the league above us remember, pushing forward for an equaliser, their goalkeeper came up for a corner, our defence dealt with it superbly and created a breakaway attack that saw a third goal rolled into an empty net to seal what will stick in the memory for ever as one of the very best nights. Even after the final whistle the crowd continued to celebrate as the players came over to thank them for the support. Scenes I will never forget.
It is one of the truths of running a non-league football club that you know not every night is like this and not every game is great. Many supporters talk about how you have to experience some of the bad games to really appreciate the good, but as a Chairman of a club, one of the things you really want is a good game when you have a good crowd in the ground. This is a chance to showcase our club to many supporters that who may not be regulars, so you want it to be good so they go away wanting to come back, and telling all their friends about what a great experience it was. So as I watched the people flock through the turnstiles I was faced with another sense of nervousness: please make this a good game. My word I need not have worried. In fact if I could have got someone to script it that we would equalise in the dying seconds of the game, take the lead in extra-time, save a penalty and then grab a third with the last play of the game, I would have had to ask them to tone it down a bit as that would be a bit too Roy of the Rovers (for those of a certain age).
A huge thanks go to JD & Muzza with their coaching team on team selection and tactics – spot on. All the players for following and executing the game plan and then to you all for the sensational support you gave all throughout the evening. It was a late night for many in the clubhouse after, and it was a night when I couldn’t sleep at all. I kept thinking about the question one supporter asked me after the game: “Well Peter, what’s it like to be Chairman of a football club in the first round of the FA Cup?” I didn’t know how to answer. I still don’t know how to answer. It is still a bit surreal.
For the rest of the week it was clear that FA Cup fever has hit the club as we have spent so much time planning the events to happen on the 3rd(Fireworks) and 4th (FA Cup First Round at The Meadow) November. Please look out for many announcements that will be coming your way about these events. But I have a very big request, please lets get all of our staff and players a kit sponsor, club together and let’s get them all sponsored now, it only costs £50 plus VAT. It will make the programme an even better read, with your name under the portraits of all staff members and those portraits fully filled. You can see a copy of the page from a recent programme here.
One thing I must point out is that the FA Cup game against Maidstone has been designated a ‘SPECIAL SPORTING EVENT’. This means that there will not be alcohol on the terraces at any time during the game or until 15 minutes after the match. Special plans are being made for you to still get drinks in the Chess Suite to enjoy pre match and at half time.
Tickets prices will not be raised for this event, usual prices will be charged. Soon these tickets will be available online for you to purchase. Please do purchase your tickets in advance as it will help everyone to get into the ground quicker and easier. There will be a special FA Cup programme of 48 pages and we will be sell car parking spaces at the ground for £3 as our car parking capacity will be reduced – it will be on a first come first served basis so get in early for your spot and early refreshments. We have already sold a match and ball sponsor for this game, but there are more sponsorship packages available. Please keep a close eye on our social media for details.
There is so much more I should be sharing like a reminder to buy your fireworks night tickets (I know times are hard at the moment and we are asking a lot of your finances, but hopefully you agree that it is also fantastic entertainment for the money) and amidst all the excitement we have a very tough fixture away at Poole Town tomorrow, seats are available on the team coach at £20 leaving at 10am sharp – please contact email@example.com to book your place. Then on Tuesday with a 7.45pm kick off, let’s fill the ground again as we face another tough fixture at home to Hendon.
Finally, we have coming shortly a limited-edition replica shirt sale starting with the shirts signed by Alex Horne and Greg Davies along with a signed photo of them both and a thank you note. Get your orders in for this very limited offer in time for Christmas. No extra charge for this, it is the same price quoted on our shop www.cheshamunited/shirts, and if you already have a home or away shirt, you can always buy the other!
Thank you so much for your support, it has been a truly humbling week and I hope you are enjoying having your town in the First Round of the FA Cup as much as I am – let’s see how far we can go on this magnificent journey.
Peter Brown, Chairman