Club savours big day in the FA Cup

IT was one of the biggest days in Haverhill's sporting history.Despite their team losing 4-0 to Aldershot on Saturday, it was an occasion the town will never forget.

IT was one of the biggest days in Haverhill's sporting history.

Despite their team losing 4-0 to Aldershot on Saturday, it was an occasion the town will never forget.

More than 1,700 people packed into Hamlet Croft to witness the Haverhill Rovers' appearance in the final qualifying stage of the FA Cup.

And they returned home safe in the knowledge that history had been re-written, not only thanks to the attendance record being smashed at the humble ground, but because it was the furthest the club had ever got in the competition in its 120-year existence.

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“I think we realised the chances were that a win was not on the cards, and Aldershot Town scored some really good goals. But the players spirits have been lifted and this game will definitely go down in the club's history, and will live in people's memories for a long time to come,” said Haverhill Rovers committee member Steven Esdale, who is a life-long fan of the club.

“It was a really fantastic day, and so many people came out of the woodwork for the game.

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“It got a lot of people interested, and it was great to see so many people from the town, as well as local businesses, showing their support for the team. It proved it is not just about football, but about community spirit as well.”

Tickets for the momentous match were in short supply, with 600 people banging down the door of the Haverhill Arts Centre on the first day they went on sale, and a total of 1,400 being sold to Rovers fans.

But it wasn't just Haverhill residents that attended the match, with people travelling from all over the region to catch a glimpse of history in the making.

“This is the furthest we have ever got in our history, and it has really got the town buzzing,” said Mr Esdale.

“We have worked hard, and it has been great for the players - some of whom have been at the club for many years.

“We just hope the momentum keeps going and people continue to support the club, and it will be interesting to see how many fans we get at the next home game.”

The atmosphere in the ground was electric on Saturday afternoon, with two missed penalties from the Haverhill side in the final 10 minutes of the match only adding to the tension.

But even when the full-time whistle was blown and the club's dream finally came to an end, the fans kept their heads held high and applauded the opposition - who are five divisions above Rovers - as they left the pitch.

Haverhill town mayor Ann Thomas, who has been a fan of the club for the past seven years, attended Saturday's match.

“The team worked so hard to get to that stage, and the dedication from everyone - from the players to the officials - really shone through,” she said.

“Those lads tried their hardest but Aldershot were bigger and more experienced and it just wasn't meant to be.

“But the camaraderie in the town throughout this competition has been amazing, and it was lovely to see so many people attend Saturday's match - from youngsters right through to people in their eighties.

“This will definitely be a day the town remembers, and I think it will be the start of something good for the club, and will lead them on to bigger and better things.”

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