Late start to competition - but 22 Sussex sides are up for the FA Cup this week

No sooner has the 2019-20 FA Cup been won by Arsenal than the 20-21 version is ready to go.

The prize they're all playing for...
The prize they're all playing for...

It will be Woodford Green, Essex, where the 2020-21 Emirates FA Cup gets under way.

The first ball will be kicked as the hosts take on London Colney at 7.45 on Monday night. It will be a special night for all concerned, as it will be for 364 other teams who will be taking their chances on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

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Twenty-two Sussex teams form part of this yearly cavalry charge which is the extra preliminary round. The competition is world renowned and concludes with a showcase final at Wembley Stadium on May 15, 2021.

Brilliantly named teams such as West Allotment Celtic, Hemsworth Miners Welfare and Maltby Main will be focused on trying to get to the next round. However, owing to financial Covid-19 constraints, rewards for winning have been cut in half - in this initial round it's £1,125, and £375 for the losers. Hopefully, this reduction won’t impede the excitement and glory of competing in the FA Cup.

This column will be following the Sussex FA Cup vibe and hopefully we can see some of our teams make it to the first round proper and beyond. Last season Chichester City made national headlines by winning a 'last ball out the hat' first round bye live on the BBC. They then drew Tranmere away in the second round, taking 500 fans on the road. It was a thrilling time for all involved at the club.

It's all about the SCFL sides in the extra preliminary round as many of our local teams get involved. In addition to all the premier division sides, a couple of lucky division one sides take their chance. .

There are three all-Sussex clashes - AFC Uckfield v Little Common, Saltdean v Eastbourne Town and Crowborough v Crawley Down Gatwick.

Hopefully, home soil will prove positive for ten sides - East Preston v Chatham Town, Lancing v Phoenix Sports, Pagham v Fleet, Broadbridge Heath v Raynes Park, Billingshurst v Westside, Oakwood v Cobham, Eastbourne United v Horley Town, Newhaven v Lingfield, Mile Oak against Beckenham and Langney Wanderers v Tower Hamlets.

The away vibe is all important to this column, so my thoughts go to Loxwood at Broadfields United (Harrow), Horsham YMCA at Fisher (Southwark), Shoreham away to SCFL side Alfold, who are just over the Surrey border, and Peacehaven at Bearsted (Maidstone Kent).

There are two more Sussex teams on the road to mention.

Please follow the action on Twitter @sussexintheFacup as Steyning Community FC travel to Aylesford in Kent to take on K Sports from the Kent County Football league. It's going to be quite a journey for manager Gerry Murphy and his squad. Then on Wednesday local Mid Sussex outfit Hassocks will travel to Balham (who groundshare with Croydon at Mayfield). They play in the Premier Division of SCEFL.

There are no replays this season so by bedtime on Wednesday we will know how many Sussex teams have prevailed. Not all can make it but let's hope a good percentage will be celebrating.

Extra preliminary round games involving Sussex teams (to be played Sept 1 / 2). Good luck to all of them.

AFC Uckfield v Little Common

Alfold v Shoreham

Aylesford v Steyning

Balham FC v Hassocks

Bearsted v Peacehaven

Billingshurst v Westside

Broadbridge Heath v Raynes Park Vale

Broadfields United v Loxwood

Crowborough Athletic v Crawley Down Gatwick

East Preston v Chatham Town

Eastbourne United v Horley Town

Fisher v Horsham YMCA

Lancing v Phoenix Sports

Langney Wanderers v Tower Hamlets

Mile Oak v Beckenham Town

Newhaven Town v Lingfield

Oakwood v Cobham

Pagham v Fleet Town

Saltdean United v Eastbourne Town