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Chi awarded Emirates FA Cup bye

Players gathered in the clubhouse to watch the draw unfold. (Photo: Daniel Harker).

Chichester City's reward for reaching the first round proper of the FA Cup is a bye to the second round of the competition after their ball was last out the hat during the draw last night.

Lucky number 71 was the last one of 79 when the draw was made live on the BBC at the clubhouse of Maldon & Tiptree, the only other side from step 4 of the non-league pyramid to progress through the qualifying rounds.

Following City’s sixth win in the qualifying stages against Bowers & Pitsea the Emirates FA Cup tweeted “Good things come to those who wait” – a reference to the 59 years a side from Chichester have had to wait to make another appearance in the first round proper of the world’s oldest knockout football competition.

Chi’s only ever first round tie was on the 5th November 1960 when they were beaten 11-0 by Bristol City.

“Good things come to those who wait” is of course the strapline from the highly acclaimed Guinness ‘Surfer’ advert released in 1999, the last year the Football Association had to make changes to the traditional way of drawing FA Cup ties when holders Manchester United withdrew from the competition to participate in the FIFA Club World Championship in Brazil. As a consequence, Darlington were drawn as second round lucky losers to replace United in the third round.

The plight of Bury twenty years later left the usually 80-strong first round line-up one club short with the FA deciding to award a bye to the last team left in the machine together with the £36,000 first round prize money.

The club has vowed to make a donation to the correct organisation involved with the continuation of Bury Football Club.

Speaking after the draw Chi coach Danny Potter said, “We’ve said it as a club that we will be making a donation to Bury. It’s been very unfortunate circumstances for them. If they start a phoenix club from last year they’ll need their money to go their next journey to get back up the league.”

There was talk before the draw of match-ups with League One big boys as players and their families, management staff and Chi supporters came together to watch the coverage live on the BBC with South Today’s Tony Husband broadcasting from the Oaklands Park clubhouse.

Captain Connor Cody fancied an away match against Sunderland whilst Kaleem Haitham, who scored Chi’s lucky goal at Bowers & Pitsea to get the club to this stage, fancied Portsmouth either at home or away.

“Going into the draw some people at the club were thinking could we get a league side here. I don’t think anyone thought we were going to get the bye” said Potter.

Fellow coach Darin Killpatrick added, “On a personal note…I’ve been beaten in the last game of the season, lost titles by one point on the last day and I kept thinking – is football ever going to give anything back? And today it has and it’s incredible for everyone.

“This journey continues. We want to stay on the train and not get off but we’ve got to keep the players grounded. We’ve got league games to play. You have to enjoy these moments though because they don’t come around that often. I want everyone to enjoy this occasion. However, we still need to concentrate on the league.”

“It would be great to host the next draw” said Potter.

“And we’re one game away now potentially from a premier league side.”

Manager Miles Rutherford who was at the draw at Maldon & Tiptree told the BBC, “It’s what we wanted, it’s what we got. Fantastic for the club.”

Keeper Steve Mowthorpe who accompanied Rutherford said, “It’s amazing. It’s fantastic to be in the next draw and still get the prize money. Except for a big away day or home draw it’s the best result.”

Thanks to the luck of the draw Chichester will have to wait another few weeks before they get back to FA Cup action.

The first round is scheduled for the weekend beginning 8th November.

The draw for the second round when Chi will find out who they will face takes place on 11th November with ties played on the weekend beginning 29th November.

Before this Chichester have fixtures in the Velocity Trophy and the Isthmian League South East Division.