The inside story of Bromsgrove Sporting’s FA Cup dreams as Grimsby Town mark historic journey
Bromsgrove Sporting are hoping to write another chapter in their FA Cup history books when Grimsby Town come to town on Saturday.
The Southern League Premier Central Division club have already broken records by making it to the fourth qualifying round, their best run in the club’s short history.
Their reward? The top seed from the National League, as Paul Hurst‘s league leaders offer the Birmingham-based outfit the opportunity to write their name in club folklore.
Dave Stephens is the club’s football secretary and one of several directors, integral in the day-to-day operations of the close-knit community club.
“It’s a very exciting draw, when you analyse it you think, it can’t come any tougher than that for the round we’re in,” he told Grimsby Live, when asked about the reaction from those within the club.
“It’s a double-whammy, to get the top seed from a football point of view and then get televised is a dream come true, to get Bromsgrove on the national map.
“There will be areas of the country that have never heard of us so to be able to get that exposure, it’s second to none, if it doesn’t help bring fans in from the local community, I’d be very surprised.”
The last time Bromsgrove hit their 3,500 capacity at Victoria Ground was against the Mariners‘ neighbours, Cleethorpes Town.
That came during an FA Vase semi-final in March 2017, the club’s best-ever cup run in any competition.
In the view of Stephens, that success added a new wave of supporters, who have stuck by the club ever since.
It’s little surprise then that over 1,500 tickets were shifted on Saturday alone, with the club very confident there will be a sell-out crowd to greet the Mariners at the Victoria Ground.
“We shifted over 1,500 tickets on Saturday alone, we’re going with 3,500 on the day and that was a third of the way there already,” Stephens explains.
“If it doesn’t sell out, it won’t be far off, we’re very confident there will be 3,500 and Grimsby have tickets too. This is a club that have been going for 12 years and we’ve risen from step nine to step three.
“We have done extremely well to get to the place we’re at in such a short space of time. The FA Vase run helped bring in more regular fans and they have stuck with us. They have majorly influenced the reason we’re at step three and we want to push on further.”
Grimsby Town’s opponents are just 12 years old, born from the ashes of Bromsgrove Rovers, who entered financial difficulties and were forced into liquidation.
In their glory days, Rovers reached the FA Cup third-round in 1994, losing in extra-time to Viv Anderson’s Barnsley, who laid the foundations for Danny Wilson to lead the Tykes into the Premier League.
So, the Victoria Ground has seen its share of memorable FA Cup moments, though each Bromsgrove Sporting player will be keen to write their own chapter.
The match will be shown live on BBC One, offering semi-professional players that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the hero on national TV. The moment they will have dreamt about growing up playing in their back gardens.
The finances involved in the tie make the encounter all the more thrilling, with a lucrative place in the first round proper and a place in history on offer for Bromsgrove.
“It’s massive for us, absolutely massive. From ticket sales, the bar, catering, the lot,” Stephens explained.
“What Grimsby fans will bring as well, not just for the club but for the town as well. As I said earlier, it should be a sell-out, we’ll embrace the day.
“The finances are very important to us. We’re not struggling, we’re comfortable but everything you get from a cup run is an added bonus.
“To be there from day one, which I was, to see it grow, watch promotions, it brings a lump to your throat when those successes come along.”
So, could they win it? Grimsby Town are obviously huge favourites but the magic of the FA Cup speaks for itself.
“The manager is ‘quietly confident’ he has a squad of players that can do something on the day. We all know it is what happens on the day,” Stephens laughs.
“If we have a good day and Grimsby have an off day, we could have an excellent chance.”