Smith still gets the buzz ahead of Tower Hamlets visit

EADT SPORT - NICK GARNHAM
Football - Walsham le Willows(blue) v Tiptree United.
Walsham Manager

EADT SPORT - NICK GARNHAM Football - Walsham le Willows(blue) v Tiptree United. Walsham Manager Paul Smith Photograph Tudor Morgan-Owen 27/01/07

Walsham-le-Willows boss Paul Smith enters his 13th year in charge of the mid-Suffolk club and his enthusiasm for the game is just as strong.

Walsham-le-Willows boss Paul Smith enters his 13th year in charge of the mid-Suffolk club and his enthusiasm for the game is just as strong.

Smith, a former prolific striker at Sudbury Town among other clubs, is well settled in the management game now.

He has constantly led from the front as Walsham continue to punch above their weight, and today it’s FA Cup action that comes to Walsham’s Summer Road ground.

Essex Senior League side Tower Hamlets – formerly Bethnal Green United – are the visitors in an extra preliminary round which may seem a long way from Wembley – and indeed is – but with £1,500 up for grabs for the victors, it’s a game both sides will be desperate to win.


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“The FA Cup is always important and it’s important for the club to get the boys wound up for the match,” Smith said.

“£1,500 is a lot of money for a club like ours and is a lot of money for 90 minutes work from our boys.

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“It’s not going to be easy. Tower Hamlets lost last Saturday but won in midweek. They will see the chance to win some money just as we do.

“Two or three rounds of FA Cup wins and the money adds up.”

Indeed it does.

Should any team who wins in today’s extra preliminary round go on to win two more FA Cup rounds, it will total up to almost £6,500 in prize money. And that is nothing to be sniffed at.

The FA Cup is still a glorious competition for non-league sides and Smith admits the competition gives him a buzz.

“I’ve been with Walsham for 13 years and I still get a buzz as I drive into the ground, just as I did in my playing days. The FA Cup is special,” he added.

Non-league clubs can’t get enough of cup runs. And while professional clubs may not be too concerned about losing in early rounds of cup competitions, non-league sides know the importance of it all.

Walsham have started well in the Thurlow Nunn Premier League too, with a win at notoriously difficult Godmanchester Rovers last Saturday, and a draw at Felixstowe & Walton on Tuesday.

And Smith wants to improve on last season’s finish.

“At the end of last season I took my foot off the pedal and so did the players. We finished sixth when we should have finished at least fifth,” he said.

“I don’t want that to happen this time.”

Andrew Wood (formerly Mildenhall), Nathan Clarke (Needham and AFC Sudbury) and Leon Bolton (Ely) have all been added to a Walsham squad that will be confident of success this afternoon.

For Smith, who has played in many FA Cup and FA Vase games over the years, the enthusiasm remains – much to Walsham’s benefit.

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