Leiston fans paint the town blue

IF you were in any doubt whether FA Cup fever has hit Leiston, a stroll through the north Suffolk town would give you the answer.

Mike Bacon

IF you were in any doubt whether FA Cup fever has hit Leiston, a stroll through the north Suffolk town would give you the answer.

An impassioned plea by the football club to “Paint the town blue” has been well received by businesses, with many shops going that extra mile to show their support.

Fleetwood Town, from near Blackpool, are Leiston's opponents at Victory Road today in the FA Cup first round. It's the club's biggest-ever game.

Balloons, flags and messages of support adorn shop fronts, with East Coast Promotions, the sportswear shop, leading the way.

Terry and Tricia Sibert have owned East Coast Promotions in the town for more than 20 years.

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Along with assistant Sue Cannon, there is plenty of Leiston merchandise on sale.

Sue admits: “It is really good news for the town that the football club are doing so well. Although it's fair to say most of us don't go on a weekly basis, we are all aware of the team's achievements.

“We all think they have done brilliantly.”

One of the town's local postmen, Simon Mayhew, was proudly pushing his mail cart along Haylings Road with a “Well Done Leiston FC” poster on the side.

Simon, 34, went to Lewes in the last round, where Leiston pulled off a shock 3-1 victory over a team four steps above them in the football pyramid.

“I love the club,” said Simon.

“We can go through to the next round of course we can. I predict a 2-1 win.”

And another man who was confident of home success was local butcher David Fisk.

“The whole FA Cup run has been wonderful for the town,” said David.

“I'm going for a 1-0 victory. I've heard a draw might not be quite so good, with the cost of having to travel and perhaps an overnight stay. But let's hope it doesn't come to that.”

Colin Stuart, proprietor of Titlows Newsagent had blue and white balloons galore decking out his shop window. He was another hoping for home success, despite his roots lying elsewhere.

“I was actually born in Highbury,” said Colin.

“I used to go to Arsenal games, but I must admit I haven't been to many at Leiston. But here's hoping they get a good result.”

Back at Leiston's Victory Road ground, finishing touches were being put to the big day.

Steve Brown, from RC Associates was busy putting up 'E.ON' signs around the ground (the FA Cup is sponsored by the energy giant).

Each board is worth a set amount of cash to the home club, and the boards going up at Leiston will generate almost £1,000 for the club.

“I actually come from Salisbury and have travelled up today,” Steve said.

“I'm putting these boards up at grounds in the area involved in the FA Cup on Saturday.

“I've already been to Colchester United, now I'm here, then I'm off to Histon, Milton Keynes and Kettering. The boards are a nice little revenue earner for the clubs.”

With Adrian Smith, of A Smith Grass Services, walking up and down the pitch giving it a winter feed (“It was just coincidence it was due right now,” he explains), things were starting to stir in the north Suffolk town.

Come 3pm this afternoon however most of the shops in Leiston will fall quiet.

Centre stage will be Victory Road. And victory for the home team will see celebrations galore as FA Cup fever bites.