LONG Melford are celebrating getting through to the next round of the FA Cup - without even kicking a ball, writes Russell Claydon.
The Villagers were due to play Saffron Walden Town in the extra Preliminary Round but their opponents withdrawal from the Ridgeons League over a planning dispute has seen Melford awarded a bye and the £750 prize money.
Cornard United were due to play their first home match of the First Division season against The Bloods on Tuesday, August 16, while Long Melford were set to host them in the FA Cup at Stoneylands on Saturday, August 20.
Ridgeons League secretary Nigel Spurling told the Suffolk Free Press: “Saffron Walden have told me they cannot guarantee to see out the season because of their financial circumstances which are linked to this situation with the council.”
A housing development is proposed to be built by The Bloods ground and include a community centre and two football pitches which the club feel are in direct competition to them and will affect their financial viability.
Saffron Walden have also asked the Ridgeons League to notify the Football Association they do not intend to play in the FA Cup or FA Vase this season, leaving Long Melford without the chance to play the home tie against the side who complained about the height of their crossbar last season.
Chairman Alf Woodhouse said: “We are through to the next round and face the winners of Wroxham or Dereham away which will be a stiff one for us but with their crowds there will be a good bit of money from that tie.”
Saffron Walden will look to get their finances in order with a view to re-entering the league the following season.
Cornard manager and current owner Chris Symes, who is in the process of selling the club, said, on the up side, he would welcome the extra break it would give his Blackhouse Lane pitch to recover from more than 100 games last year after it was hired out.
“The longer our pitch gets a rest the better really,” said Symes, who was delighted with the way his newly-formed 18-man squad played in a 3-2 defeat to Premier Division side Wivenhoe Town at Colchester Garrison last Thursday in their first pre-season fixture.
After taking on Suffolk & Ipswich League side Grundisburgh last night they will play Stanway at home on Saturday (3pm) and then Hundon or Ipswich Athletic midweek.
At Hadleigh United, Stuart Crawford has been rocked by a training ground injury to new striker Alan Ross (Walsham-le-Willows) who will be out until the start of September after damaging his medial knee ligament.
But with fellow forward Ben Deacon having gone travelling to America for a month, and set to miss at least the first two games, he has brought in 22-year-old Darren Mills, who was part of Hadleigh’s 2009 promotion-winning team and who has been posted to Colchester Garrison with the Army for the next two years. Hadleigh face Ryman League side Waltham Forest at home on Saturday (3pm).
Halstead Town manager Jimmy Holder does not think there will be any new additions to his squad before August 13.
The club are offering free entry to their friendly with neighbours Earls Colne on Saturday (3pm) with Holder hoping for a decent crowd with local youth teams being encouraged to turn up in their kits for a picture on the pitch.