Steelmen getting full value as they prepare for Dover showdown

Corby Town chairman Kevin Ingram
Corby Town chairman Kevin Ingram

In the modern age of eye-watering salaries, Sky TV and European football, the romance of the FA Cup can be lost on some.

But for a club with an average attendance of 270, the competition can be absolutely magical..

Corby Town, of the Calor League Southern Premier Division – the seventh level of English football, entered the famous tournament in the first qualifying round in September.

Fast forward eight weeks and the Steelmen have made it through to the first ound proper, with a generous looking home clash against Dover Athletic tomorrow (Saturday) separating them from the second round and the chance of another big payday.

While most clubs of Corby’s size are dreaming of a TV tie against the likes of Wolves or Sheffield United, the draw gives the club a good chance of making another £18,000 in prize money, on top of the £27,500 already received.

For chairman Kevin Ingram, the chance to make almost £50,000 from the FA Cup run is a mouth-watering prospect.

“The FA Cup offers a club like ours a number of things,” he said.

“There’s an increased excitement about competing in the world’s premier cup competition, and for a small non-League club like us to reach the first round is very exciting as we get to mix with some massive clubs.

“Like most clubs at our level, we need to raise money to struggle by and a good cup run allows us to do that as the prize money grows.

“Winning in the first round earns us £18,000 alone, which pays for a lot of weeks’ wages and those kinds of funds are invaluable to us.”

The club may have earned more than they expected in prize money but Ingram is keen to stress that the money will be used wisely.

“We budgeted to make £16,000 from all cup competitions this season, with anything after that being gravy,” he added.

“We’ve so far got two rounds further than we expected to but the extra money goes towards covering the shortfalls in other areas.

“It gives us flexibility but don’t get me wrong, we won’t be rushing out to spend the money on star strikers.

“The population of Corby will double from 60,000 to 120,000 over the next 10 years, and it’s important that we get that support both through success and through having a sustainable football club.

“Our ground currently holds over 3,000 and I truly believe that over the coming months and years, we can fill the ground on a regular basis, partially off the back of good cup runs such as this.”

Joint-Manager Andrew Wilson echoes his chairman’s sentiments and wants to see the town show their support for the club in what he believes is the biggest game of the season.

“We’re looking forward to getting a big crowd down for this game,” Wilson said.

“We got 530 against Trafford (in the third qualifying round) and I’d like to see double that when we play Dover, including the fans from yesteryear who perhaps don’t watch as much and also get the local kids down supporting us.

“We have a great chance to kick on and improve the support of the club and it’s essential that we do that.”

For both Wilson and Ingram, there is a great deal of pride in getting the club to this point, although they are both keen to share the credit for their success.

“To me personally, it’s magnificent,” Wilson added.

“It’s my first involvement in the cup as a manager and to get through to the first round is amazing.

“I was watching the draw with my wife and it’s absolutely surreal but I’m very proud to be the joint-manager of Corby Town and take them into the first round proper.

“At the end of the day, this club isn’t about myself, the chairman or the board but about the community, which includes the board, players, staff and the supporters.

“Of course I‘d be very proud but nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing everyone else in Corby benefit from this success, that would be the biggest thrill for me.

“We’re living the dream and these are exciting, heady days.”

The Steelmen take on Dover Athletic for a place in the second round of the FA Cup at Steel Park tomorrow (Saturday, 3pm).