After 125 years with not a single FA Cup victory to celebrate, it’s fair to say the Cheesemen of Cheddar FC are maturing nicely.
The historic Somerset club have been going since 1892 and have just gorged on their first ever win.
The stats, though, don’t quite tell the full story. They’ve only qualified for the famous competition since 2015 and the players of the tiny village team pay their own way to get games.
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They broke their duck against Bridgwater Town in the Extra Preliminary round and this weekend they get ready for their biggest ever match at home to Yate Town.
Chairman Matt Postins believes his side are in fine Feta and they Camembert to lose – it would really brie something if they could claim another scalp on Saturday.
“Yes, we’ve only ever won one FA Cup match but there are mitigating circumstances,” he laughed.
“It’s not quite as bad as that, we’ve only qualified for the past three years but trust me when I tell you we celebrated that win last week like we’d won our first game for 125 years!
“At Step 6 level, it’s a lot like our own little Champions League qualification. The top four sides go into the FA Cup and for clubs like us that is absolutely massive.
“It’s been a lovely experience so far and just saying that we are in the same competition as the likes of City, United and Liverpool is something we’re really proud to tell people.
“But it’s football – we want to keep winning. We’ve won four out of our first five games this season and we want another on Saturday. Yate are two leagues higher, pay their players and compared to us are a big club so we’ll have our work cut out.
“Wouldn’t it be great to carry it on? We want Cheddar to win something else aside from cheese awards!”
Music to the ears of the chairman is the FA’s increased commitment, with more prize money available to clubs than ever before.
The pot has doubled to £30.2m, with the Western Leaguers making £2,250 already. There is another cheque for £2,890 for the winner to bank after Saturday up for grabs too.
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It means Non-League clubs will share over £4m for the first time ever.
“My treasurer is doing cartwheels!” Postins added. “Our players get no salary at all and we run teams from under-5s up so every penny counts.
“The FA Cup is a lifeline for clubs at our level. We’re just happy to finally get a bit of money in!”