Beckenham Town beckons for United in FA Cup

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Beckenham Town vs Hastings United – FA Cup Preliminary Round – Preview

After the opening league game of the season ended 1 – 1 with Herne Bay, United must put the campaign to one side and turn their attentions to the FA Cup instead. We join the competition at the Preliminary Round stage with one of those A21 jaunts to the London Borough of Bromley where we will meet Beckenham Town.

United up and running

For the third year running United opened their league campaign with a draw and in doing so instantly got a point on the board. There were signs of rustiness for sure, but everyone got some miles in the bank, and though Herne Bay put in a very good performance they still couldn’t find a way to win. Indeed it took a pretty special free-kick for The Bay to earn their point. As the Gaffer pointed out after the game, “It’s important you don’t get beat when not at your best.”

There were also some neat statistics which are worth a mention. Dave Martin’s first goal for the club was the quickest goal of the day (in our league), scored in the 4th minute. What an attendance! 949 was three times bigger than the next highest (Whitstable Town 315) in our league and turned out to be the largest Step 4 crowd in the country. Last but certainly not least, when he entered the fray in the second-half, Sam Adams made his record-breaking 570th appearance for the ‘U’s.

A quick reminder of how United fared in the FA Cup last year. Our friends Herne Bay were dispatched 1 – 0 in the Preliminary Round. In the First Qualifying Round a thrilling 6 – 5 penalty shootout, following a scoreless 90 minutes, saw the ‘U’s overcome Chesham United of the Southern League Premier South. After two home ties the Second Qualifying Round took United to National League South outfit Ebbsfleet United. A stellar performance had United on the brink only for Ebbsfleet to equalise in the 92nd minute. 2 – 2 after 90 minutes took the game direct to penalties where this time it was not to be. Ebbsfleet drilled home four penalties while United had two well saved.

Who are Beckenham Town?

Originally formed in 1887 they folded in 1969 but swiftly reformed in 1971. This is a team with two nicknames, The Becks or The Reds. Not surprisingly they are based in Beckenham, Greater London. They are members of the Combined Counties League Premier Division South, which is in Step 5, and play their games at Eden Park Avenue with a capacity of 4,000 including 120 covered seats.

The Becks new season began on 31st July with a 1 – 0 home victory against newly promoted Jersey Bulls. On 14th August they travelled to Farnham Town and returned home with all three points courtesy of a thumping 4 – 0 win. Two games and two wins puts them in 3rd place in the table.

In between their league games they played Collier Wood United twice in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round. The home tie ended 0 – 0 and they won the reply 3 – 1 to set up Saturday’s enticing game.

In the 2019-20 season The Becks were top of the league (Southern Counties East) after 27 games with just 10 games remaining, only to be denied promotion. A situation the ‘U’s know first-hand. A reshuffle transferred them to the league they are in now.

In last year’s FA Cup they reached this same round where they drew 1 – 1 with Tunbridge Wells only to lose out on penalties.

Any recent previous meetings?

Move along now, nothing to see here. Neither Tim Berners-Lee’s invention (the Internet) or Larry Page’s Google yield any information. It’s either back to the drawing board for these guys or more likely, there have been no recent (or indeed any) previous meetings.

Bottom line

It’s a cup game so anything can happen. And as it’s the FA Cup there’s prize money at stake as well as a place in the next round. £1444 for the winners and £481 for the losers. If the match is drawn after 90 minutes, there will be a replay.

The FA Cup is 150 years old this term*. It began in 1871-72 with Wanderers defeating Royal Engineers 1 – 0. In the inaugural year 15 teams entered the competition, whereas this year starts with 729 teams.

This prompted me to look back at some other milestones. The 50th FA Cup consisted of 64 teams and was won by Sheffield United in 1924-25 with a 1 – 0 defeat of Cardiff City. I wasn’t around for that one!

But I was for the 100th season in 1980-81 where participation had grown to 532 teams. Tottenham Hotspur won the trophy this year against Manchester City after the first ever FA Cup replay at Wembley Stadium. Following a 1 – 1 draw, Spurs won the replay 3 – 2 with Ricky Villa scoring the winner with an unforgettable jinking solo goal. This was in the age before the Very Annoying Referee and teams were allowed just the one substitute.

* World Wars I & II saw the competition cancelled for several years and explains the disparity between why the FA Cup began 150 years ago but there have only been 140 winners.

Match information

Saturday 21st August, 3pm kick off at Beckenham Town Football Club, 374 Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, BR3 3JL (nearest train station is Eden Park).

Adults £8, 60+ / U16 £5

Can’t attend? You can follow live game updates via Twitter: @hastingsufc

Bob Quinn
Twitter: @BobJQuinn