By Matt Badcock
JODY BROWN will be dipping into his contacts book to make sure Heybridge Swifts are up for the cup when they travel to Exeter City.
The Bostik North side reached the first round proper after beating league rivals Haringey Borough on Saturday.
Boss Brown says a league side away was the ideal draw so that the whole club can enjoy a big day out.
But he also wants his Swifts to make sure they show their best and he’s already been getting an inside track – including from a former Non-League manager who knows all about FA Cup upsets.
“There have been moments in the competition (this season) that will live long in the memory,” Brown said. “As any aspiring football coach would say, we’re not just going to make the numbers up.
“It’s going to be extremely difficult but I’ve got a lot of friends in League Two – Danny Cowley at Lincoln, Joe Dunne at Cambridge, Nicky Shorey at Stevenage, who I worked with at Colchester United. I’ve already been speaking to them and they’re all giving me advice.
“The gap’s meteoric – it’s over 100 places in the Pyramid. They’re in great form. It’s probably the worst time to get Exeter City when they’re joint-top of League Two!
“But we’ll do our preparation and, it’s a cliché, but the competition is famous for upsets. There’s no point, as a group of football players, going anywhere not to try to win. So, as much as it’s a day out, we’ve got to go there and make sure we give a good account of ourselves. Otherwise it’s quickly forgotten.”
The clash will also be a reward for the club after a difficult period that saw them avoid relegation to Step 5 on the final day of last season.
“We’ve had tough times as a club, financially and on the field,” Brown said. “We stayed up by the skin of our teeth last season. It galvanised the club, brought supporters in, brought new sponsors in and a fresh drive. Coming so close to disaster laid the foundations for what people are seeing now.
“Last Saturday was a great result and a testament to the players for holding their nerve because it was a tricky tie.”
In Sunday’s @NonLeaguePaper, Brown tells us how Heybridge Swifts are turning things around, gives his thoughts on rebuilding his managerial career and explains why the FA Cup has been so special to them this season.