Thatcham Town ready for Steve Claridge, Salisbury and the BBC cameras


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The eyes of the footballing world will be back on a West Berkshire town on Saturday when the BBC cameras focus on Thatcham Town’s FA Cup First Qualifying Round tie with Salisbury at the Stacatruc Stadium (KO 12.30pm).

The Kingsfishers were selected by the broadcaster to have their second FA Cup fixture of the season broadcast live on the iPlayer app and BBC Sport website and app in an announcement made on 30th August.

Danny Robinson’s side beat Andover New Street 7-1 in the previous round while Steve Claridge’s Salisbury will play their first match in the competition this season. Thatcham were last in front of the TV cameras when they beat Stockton Town 1-0 at Wembley in the 2017/18 FA Vase final.

The BBC have already broadcast an Extra Preliminary Round tie between Punjab United and Broadbridge Heath as well as the Preliminary Round tie between Heather St Johns and Worcester City.

Football in Berkshire spoke to Thatcham chairman Dave Melin about what the attention meant to the club and what hosting the BBC cameras entailed. The full transcript is below.

Going to the game? Our West Berks football expert Matt Smith has written about a visit to the club here. Read the fans guide to the ground including ticket prices and travel information here.

If you can’t make it to the ground, you can watch the game here.

What does that mean to the club?

From a club perspective it gives us additional exposure, I am assuming the tie was chosen because of the locality of Salisbury, the fact Steve Claridge is their manager and also the fact in the last couple of years we have won the FA Vase.

Salisbury manager Steve Claridge. Photo: Coventry Telegraph.

I think over the last couple of years the profile of the club has grown, we’ve had a good start to the season as well so yeah, I am pretty sure that was in the BBC’s thinking when they were looking to schedule a game to go out on iPlayer and on the BBC website.

How did you find out about it?

We actually got a call from the FA. Part of what the FA and BBC are trying to do is cover the cup from the Extra Preliminary Round all the way through to the Final. They’ve shown both rounds so far and now this the First Qualifying Round.

Someone at the FA is obviously selecting the matches, they approached us and yeah, we thought it was a great idea, so did Salisbury. That’s happening on Saturday and we’re making preparations as we speak.

What do preparations entail?

They send a camera down, a single camera which will be mounted on some scaffolding. The commentary will be done by someone out of Salford. We’ve just sent some information across on our players [Tuesday] afternoon. They’re going to commentate on the game from there.

Will that affect the attendance do you think?

Queuing at Thatcham Town. Photo: Matthew Smith.
Queuing at Thatcham Town. Photo: Matthew Smith.

I would hope it will affect the attendance, I would think people would want to see themselves on tele. From a club perspective it’s obviously great for our sponsors and again it’s just great they are showcasing this and coming a few steps down the non league ladder rather than just focusing on Match of the Day and all the Premier League teams. It’s a very good initiative. 

Have you seen any of the previous games?

I have, I watched Worcester City v Heather St Johns in the last round. I had already watched that and when they said they were coming to Thatcham I watched it again to see how it’d look and what the setup was like.

Salisbury are a division higher, that’s going to be a test for the team and club.

Danny Robinson. Photo: Neil Graham.
Danny Robinson. Photo: Neil Graham.

Definitely, we have had a really good start to the season, Danny [Robinson] has put together a very good squad of players and they are performing well. I think they’d be happy to play anyone home or away at the moment. The form is good and there is a really good bond between the players this season.

From our perspective also it’s good to test yourselves against a team from a higher league and ultimately that’s where we want to be next season. That’s the division we want to be in. It’s a good test to see how far we’ve come.

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