The County Cup has come full circle and is producing magical nights

Sean McCormack in the celebrations. Photo: Neil Graham
Sean McCormack in the celebrations. Photo: Neil Graham

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This isn’t exactly an opinion piece as per the top of the page, more a thank you letter to Berkshire and Buckinghamshire’s professional clubs for getting back involved in the Berks & Bucks County FA Senior Men’s Cup.

It wasn’t all that long ago that it was only MK Dons who regularly featured (it didn’t always go well for them as former Bracknell Town defender Michael Buck will tell you), and obviously, I don’t know why Wycombe Wanderers and Reading FC weren’t involved, but a couple of years ago they are very welcome back into the fold.

Now, with the expanded senior competition encompassing clubs at step 5 of the English Football Pyramid, our non-league clubs really have something to get out of bed for. I can remember the County Cup being very much the bottom of the pile when it came to the season’s priorities a decade ago, but when a potential tie against a pro-club is on the cards, for a non-league club especially at steps 4 and 5, that’s a real carrot.

Ascot United's Chris Ellis is lost in the Racecourse crowd. Photo: Neil Graham.
Ascot United’s Chris Ellis is lost in the Racecourse crowd. Photo: Neil Graham.

Now, I know Wycombe, MK and Reading are mostly putting out Academy and Reserve sides in the competition, Wycombe even had some trialists in their line up against Ascot United on Tuesday, but I don’t think anyone involved at Ascot or Long Crendon who all had record crowds against the Chairboys this season, or when Reading played Bracknell Town at Larges Lane in front of over a 1,000 in 2018, will be complaining.

Increased media exposure, online ticket sales in the thousands, junior players with a night to remember and the opportunity to put the limelight on other sections of the club as Ascot did on Tuesday, I hope that Wycombe, Reading and MK Dons know how important their participation is.

Speaking to the Bracknell News ahead of the Ascot game, Wycombe first-team boss Gareth Ainsworth said: “The development side will feature players such as Jack Grimmer, Jack Wakley, David Wheeler and maybe Brandon Hanlan and it’ll be a full-blooded game.

“I’m looking forward to it and I want to treat this competition with the respect as the Wycombe fans give it.”

Next season I am sure there will be plenty of sides looking to have a night like Long Crendon and Ascot have had this year.

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