Debenham is going FA Cup crazy

DEBENHAM is going FA Cup crazy ahead of Saturday's momentous clash with AFC Wimbledon at the village's Leisure Centre.The London club and almost 1,000 of its fans are set to descend on the Maitlands complex as one of the round's fairytale ties comes to Suffolk.

By Mike Bacon

DEBENHAM is going FA Cup crazy ahead of Saturday's momentous clash with AFC Wimbledon at the village's Leisure Centre.

The London club and almost 1,000 of its fans are set to descend on the Maitlands complex as one of the round's fairytale ties comes to Suffolk.

AFC Wimbledon, a club run by its fans and considered by them to be a continuation of the former Wimbledon FC, regularly attract home gates of 2,500 and take nearly half that support on the road with them.


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That means Debenham Leisure Centre is set to be full to bursting on Saturday for the two sides' FA Cup second qualifying round game, with Debenham's previous record attendance of 189 set to be smashed to pieces.

Work has been non-stop on making sure Saturday goes ahead with few hitches. And Debenham manager Mel Aldis admits to being pleased with progress. “We are really happy with the way things are progressing,” Aldis said.

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“Suffolk police are happy with us putting the game on and all the arrangements are in place. We are expecting up to 1,000 Wimbledon fans, but we have held big events here at the Leisure Centre before, like firework displays that have attracted that number.” Ten trained football stewards as well as police from Suffolk will be on duty at a game worth £3,500 to the winners, as well as a share of gate receipts.

AFC Wimbledon, who play in the Ryman Premier League, contain many semi-professionals, including former Rangers and Wimbledon star Marcus Gayle, and are hot favourites to wipe the floor with Debenham.

However, as determined as Aldis is to realise a great FA Cup shock, he very much wants the day to be enjoyable for all. “It might sound a bit cheesy, but I really do just want it to be a good day,” he added.

“We will have to pay for the stewards and the officials and we share the gate receipts with Wimbledon, so we won't make a complete fortune. But we know we will make plenty of money, which is great for this club.”

And Aldis admitted the village has gone out of its way to help the football club.

“I've had little old ladies offering to bake cakes to sell on the day and local businesses have come up with sponsorship. It's been a great effort,” he added.

With a village population of 1,900, Debenham could almost swell to double its size on Saturday. But the match is not all ticket and is priced at £7 for adults, £4 for concessions.

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