Kelvedon Hatch Manager Darren Hunt claims his side will have to be at “our very very best” to make further BBC Essex Saturday Premier Cup progress after he was involved with the draw for the Quarter-Finals alongside Old Southendian boss John Brandon live from the station’s Chelmsford studios on Wednesday (17th January).
Hunt’s squad, Premier Cup winners in 2015, have a tough last-eight trip to ProKit UK Essex Olympian League Senior Division One leaders Buckhurst Hill to negotiate if they’re to make the Semi-Finals. Meanwhile, Brandon’s third-placed Senior Division One team host Manford Way, who last lifted the Premier Cup in 2005 and were 2-1 victors at Old Chelmsfordians in the previous round.
There are seven clubs still involved who are representing the Olympian League, while Waltham Abbey are the only remaining senior Reserve Team. This year’s final will be taking place at Billericay Town FC on Wednesday 11th April and the two managers who assisted with the draw both hope their squads will be there. John pulled out the home clubs while Darren was responsible for the away teams on BBC Essex’s Wednesday Sport Show.
Kelvedon Hatch are in mid-table but with a game in hand and a couple of wins could propel them up a very tight Olympian League Premier Division table. They’re aiming for a repeat of 2015 when they lifted the same trophy, again with Darren in the dugout, and he explains that his squad enjoys competing in the Premier Cup each year.
“I think they’re [Buckhurst Hill] flying in their league,” he commented. “I looked at their team and looked at their squad and they look like they’re full of youngsters. It’ll be a tough game for us to go there. We’ll have to be at our very very best to get anything from the game. Hopefully my boys will do what they should and we’ll manage to get through.”
“I say to the boys every time we play in the cup to remember what the cup final’s like. To play in front of three or four hundred, like there was on that night against Catholic [2014/15 final] it is a good occasion. Your bread and butter’s the league but the actual occasion of a cup final… there’s nothing like it. We’re looking forward to trying to get back there again.”
Old Southendian themselves are currently chasing down Buckhurst Hill at the top of Senior Division One. It’s been an eventful run for them so far and, in the last 16, they recorded a 3-1 win at Olympian League Premier Division leaders Frenford. John claims the Premier Cup means a lot to his side each season as one of their main priorities.
He said: “I’ve been involved in a few sides before where, with cup runs, you don’t have to do too much of a team talk before games. Boys turn up for training 15 minutes before they should. All those little things you stress about as managers, when you have a good cup run these things take care of themselves. As a result, that makes your job a lot easier!”
“When you’re in the last eight, it doesn’t really matter who you play, they’re all good sides. You want a home draw and we’ve got it. Hopefully we’ll have a good crowd because we’ve got a good following at our club with some good people behind the scenes who make sure it’s a good afternoon for everyone. We’ll ensure everyone’s there in plenty of time, with good preparation, and just play a game of football.”
Elsewhere in the draw Waltham Abbey Reserves, who are doing very well in the Essex Senior League Reserve Division, entertain Olympian Premier contenders May & Baker Eastbrook Community. Catholic United, fifth and with games in hand at the top of a tight Premier Division table, look forward to facing Shenfield Association who are fourth in Senior Division One and entered the last eight with a slender win at Little Oakley Reserves.
Those matches are scheduled to take place on Saturday 3rd February, and all the BBC Essex Saturday Premier Cup details you need to know can be found here, by following @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.
BBC Essex Saturday Premier Cup Quarter-Finals (Saturday 3rd February)
Waltham Abbey Reserves vs May & Baker Eastbrook Community
Catholic United vs Shenfield Association
Buckhurst Hill vs Kelvedon Hatch
Old Southendian vs Manford Way