City braced for Cup debut

Lichfield City’s long-awaited FA Cup debut this Saturday has been a decade in the making for their chairman Darren Leaver.

After starting life as a coach of the U8s team, Leaver’s labour of love eventually took him to his current role as chairman – and above everything else, there was one distinct aim for the club.

He told TheFA.com: “I first got involved with the club ten years ago when my son played for the U8s, that seems like an awful long time ago.

Black Country Rangers v Lichfield City

The FA Cup

Extra Preliminary Round

3pm, Saturday 16 August 2014

Beeches View, Black Country Rangers 
Winners receive £1500

By Declan Taylor

“It was in 2009 that I was made chairman and we made a five-year plan – and our primary aim was to get Lichfield City into The FA Cup. Here we are, it’s surreal really.

“It’s the first time in the club’s history, that goes for any club in Lichfield, has played in The FA Cup.

“We’re all very very proud and we just can’t wait. I was speaking to a friend about the weekend and said we were in The FA Cup and they replied: ‘what the same one as Man United and Liverpool?’

“I told them there’s only one FA Cup and we’ve made it in – we’re just starting earlier. This game is the reason we do it.”

Their bow comes away at Black Country Rangers in Saturday’s Extra Preliminary Round and Leaver, a procurement director for a pharmaceutical company, says the match has given the whole support a dose of FA Cup magic.

He added: “The whole club has had a massive lift. Our average gate is about 120 and I think we’re taking 120 fans with us. We’ve got two coaches plus people are driving. We’re certainly putting some effort behind it.

“There’s only one FA Cup and we’ve made it in.”

Darren Leaver Lichfield City chairman

“I’m so excited about the game and I reckon I’ll be up at six o’clock on Saturday morning getting myself ready.”

And Leaver revealed that he almost managed to secure himself more than a watching brief.

“At one stage I was going to insist on the manager putting me on the sub’s bench,” he joked. “But I’m not sure he was going to buy it. I could pull rank but I also want us to win. At 48, I’m no longer in my prime sadly. But you never know, maybe I’ll do it another season.”

So what’s the target for Leaver and his Lichfield side in their first ever FA Cup campaign?

“Well, we’ve worked out we’re only 13 games away from Wembley!” he said. “Seriously win, lose or draw, it’s a massive occasion and it’s just the start.

“We’ve promised our players half of the £1500 prize money. So each player will get a £50 win bonus, the subs £25 and the manager and his assistant £50 too.

“They’ll get to play in The FA Cup and get £50 in the pocket if they win – cant say fairer than that.”