Comment: What a night for the town

A bumper 4,028 crowd packed into The Pilot Field last night. Picture by Justin Lycett
A bumper 4,028 crowd packed into The Pilot Field last night. Picture by Justin Lycett

Wow what a night that was! Surely one of the finest sporting occasions the town has ever witnessed.

Even nearly 24 hours after the penalty shoot-out win over Harrogate Town, it’s still difficult to comprehend that Hastings United will be playing Middlesbrough in round three of the FA Cup on the first weekend of January.

What an achievement from a club which hadn’t won an FA Cup match since 2006 prior to this glorious run which has now produced six victories, three of them against higher level clubs.

It’s been a truly phenomenal effort from the management and players, and the fact that United haven’t faced a Football League or Blue Square Bet Premier club to get this far should take nothing away from what they’ve done.

And it’s worth pointing out that it hasn’t happened as a result of throwing the chequebook at it. A number of other clubs in the Ryman League Premier Division have bigger playing budgets than United, let alone higher up the non-league pyramid.

In fact, it’s no secret that the club was in a fairly desperate financial position at the end of last season and the six-figure sum that United have made from this run has at least helped secure their short term future.

Of course there’s a very strong possibility the fairytale will end in Teesside next month against a Middlesbrough side riding high in the second tier of English football.

But whatever happens the players will relish a probably once in a lifetime opportunity of showcasing their skills at a near 35,000 stadium that is the Riverside.

It would be remiss not to acknowledge the wonderful support given to the U’s by a 4,028 capacity crowd which packed into The Pilot Field last night and hopefully at least some of them will come back more often.