And so there it was, the Concord Rangers FA Cup journey came to an end for another season, but what a journey it was eh? Making the first round proper of this legendary competition for the first time was something special for our small club, and we certainly made an impact didn’t we?
Having our clubs name read out on live TV in the first round draw was quite surreal, but not only for those of us involved with the club. People all over the world wondered who this team were that had been drawn away to Mansfield Town, many of them taking to social networks to ask the question “who the f**k are Concord Rangers” (I use the asterisks as this is a family publication!). With the increased net traffic, this led to our club even trending worldwide on social network site Twitter, giving our tiny club further publicity, reaching places we’d never even dreamed of.
The column inches that were then dedicated to our club continued to overwhelm and surprise us, with national publications such as The Sun and Daily Express running features on the team, along with the BBC interviewing the chairman and our players prior to the scheduled tie up north. I say scheduled of course as we all know now that this game was postponed due to the weather conditions providing Mansfield with a waterlogged pitch.
10 days later and the lads made the trip again, this time to actually get the game played. By now we all know what happened, and enough has been dedicated to the performance that was put on that night by the players and the support shown by the 100 or so travelling faithful. But the end result meant a trip back home to Thames Road a week later, and the prep work began. Club officials had to liaise with local police, the FA and the council to ensure that the ground could fit a suitable amount of people safely inside (capacity given at 3000), certain provisions needed to be made with regards to stewarding (we borrowed the Southend United stewards), and there was a long list of FA regulations we had to comply to as well (including me with the programme).
On the day it all went smoothly enough, other than the rain that didn’t seem to want to stop. But that didn’t mean we weren’t nervous about the whole thing! I can only speak for myself, but I was a bag of nerves even though I was only watching the game! From worrying about my programme being up to scratch, to making sure we as a club got everything done and set, through to my cameo interview on the BBC Essex radio show, I was shaking and struggling to process the whole thing. A fellow fan even said he could see the nerves on my face, and that I should relax! He was right of course, I play a small part in this machine, and others had a lot more on their plate than me!
The result on the night wasn’t what we were after, but everyone involved with the club should be proud of what has been achieved during this FA Cup run. Making the First Round Proper was massive, bringing a League 2 team back to Thames Road after a draw at their place was incredible, and seeing over 1500 (official attendance was 1537) people at the Aspect Arena to watch Concord Rangers was truly a sight to behold. If just 50 of those people become regular fans it would mean a boost to the club and its support.
It’s been an awesome experience, and I’m sure that there will be plenty more occasions like that in the future for our great little club. I loved being a part of it, and I hope that those of you who were there did too.
You Are My Concord!
Alan Jessup-PeacockFan, Programme Editor, Committee Member, Beachboy