Melton Town FC continue their transformation with FA Cup bow

Tom Manship (right) and assistant Edi Appleton will oversee Melton's FA Cup debut
Tom Manship (right) and assistant Edi Appleton will oversee Melton's FA Cup debut
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Melton Town’s rapid rise will reach another landmark on Saturday when they take their bow in the world’s biggest domestic cup competition.

For chairman Sam Ellis the day will underline the dizzying development of a club which has its origins playing five-a-side football.

Melton Mowbray FC chairman Sam Ellis EMN-190708-144741002

Melton Mowbray FC chairman Sam Ellis EMN-190708-144741002

“I came to Melton in 2000 and the following year set up a five-a-side team at the King Edward School pitches,” he said.

“We moved into Sunday League football with the Stellamen and then we decided to try ourselves on Saturdays combining the Half Moon and Stellamen teams.

“Our very first game was a friendly against the Post Office 13 years ago and I said then my dream would be complete if we reached the FA Cup.

“We all laughed, but I made a promise to myself that if we ever made it I’d have a cigar to celebrate so that’s what I’ll do.”

The club entered Saturday competition in the Leicester and District League as Melton Mowbray in the middle of the last decade.

After several promotions as well as setbacks, the club changed its name to Melton Town – as a nod to their successful forerunners - after reaching the United Counties League back in 2016.

In a nice touch of symmetry, Ellis will travel up to North Nottinghamshire with John Batty, his former Stellamen manager and the person he shared, what then seemed, that joke.

“For me it will be a very momentous day that’s been 13 years in the making,” Ellis added.

“We started out in the District League and we have come from the very bottom and worked our way up.”

Tom Manship’s side face perhaps the stiffest test of any side in the FA Cup extra preliminary round draw, with a trip to Worksop Town.

The newcomers are one of three step-six teams to draw step-four opponents in the opening round and face opponents on the opposite end of the scale in terms of FA Cup experience,

Worksop have appeared in the cup 111 times and played three seasons of Conference North football up to 2008.

“The last time I played Worksop they were in the Conference and that is the kind of club we are going to play,” Manship said.

“It will be a difficult game and a real test against a good side, but the pressure won’t be on us.

“They are 10 times the size of where this club is at this time, so the pressure will be on them. It will be a good occasion.”

Thanks to the influx of talent brought in by Manship last summer, the gulf may not be quite as wide as the draw suggests.

A nucleus of the squad has played at a higher level, while player-manager Manship himself has Conference experience.

The last decade has also been turbulent for the Tigers who were forced to resign from the Northern Premier League after a successful 2013/14 season and join the Northern Counties East League (NCEL).

But once again they are on the up, crowned champions last season to earn promotion back to the NPL, and Melton will undoubtedly kick-off at Sandy Lane (3pm) as underdogs.

“I’m looking forward to it, but I’ll be nervous and I’m not sure I’m expecting a win,” Ellis said.

“But I think we will go up there and could surprise them.

“Ultimately it’s our first FA Cup match, but if we can get promotion it will bring us the FA Cup every year without having to qualify.

“I would like a draw to bring them back to Melton and get the cup at our ground.

“The prizemoney has doubled in recent seasons so to get through a couple of rounds would bring us enough revenue to see us through half-a-season.”

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