Big game ahead after Enfield win through semi-final on penalties, writes Andrew Warshaw
It may not have the glamour of the Champions League or the prestige of the FA Cup but there is a genuine buzz of excitement among fans of Enfield Town as the club prepares for its very own cup final.
Next month the Towners bid for arguably their most important piece of silverware since the club was formed 18 years ago. They will contest the final of the Velocity Trophy, otherwise known as the Isthmian League Cup, against AFC Hornchurch on 10th April.
While a play-off place at the end of the season is the undoubted priority, picking up a trophy ranks as a close second, especially after the disappointment of three seasons ago when the club were beaten in the final of the Middlesex Senior Cup, the second time in the competition that they had fallen at the last hurdle.
The Velocity Cup Final will be contested on neutral ground at Aveley in Essex and promises to be a tight affair between two evenly-matched teams, although Hornchurch have fared better in the two league meetings between the sides this season, snatching a 2-2 draw back in August and then winning the return fixture 2-0 in February.
But cup games are one-off affairs and if omens are anything to go by, Enfield can be optimistic about their chances – and in particular who might score their goals. This will be the third-straight cup final for Towners striker Billy Bricknell who, remarkably, scored hattricks in the last two for his previous club Billericay.
For Enfield chairman Paul Reed, the prospect of picking up £3,000 in prize money for winning the trophy (or £1,500 as runners-up) cannot be over-estimated. At non-league level, every penny spent has to be wisely accounted. After disappointing early exits in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy this season, getting to the Velocity Cup Final will bring in vital revenue.
“It may not seem much on paper but it’s the sort of money that probably constitutes around 20% of our shirt sponsorship,” Paul explained. “To put it into context, it’s the equivalent, say, of £2million prize money to a Premier League club with a £10m shirt sponsorship deal.
“We’d probably have to sell ten advertising boards around the pitch for this kind of money, or the equivalent of all our programme adverts.”
But it’s not just about the cash. “We’ve not been in a cup final of this magnitude for several years and it’s reward for the hard work of the management team,” adds Paul. “We had a terrible record at the old Aveley ground but it’s our first-ever visit to their new ground, so hopefully our luck will change.
“You don’t get many chances to win something and if we can do it, it will boost confidence for the rest of the season.”