Football: Quakers geared up for FA Cup adventure

That was the week that was
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The Independent Online
Hednesford fans anticipating another FA Cup scalp when Darlington visit their Cross Keys ground next Saturday might do well not to underestimate their North-eastern rivals, despite their current lowly position in the Nationwide League.

The Quakers may be fifth from bottom in the Third Division following Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Barnet, but they are particularly keen to raise their profile with a headline-catching - and money-spinning - Cup run.

So much so, in fact, that the chairman arranged buses for 600 of their supporters to travel to last Tuesday's first-round replay at Solihull free of charge.

"We wanted to have as many fans as possible to get behind the team in a difficult game," Mike Pedan, the Darlington chairman, said after seeing his side go through on a penalty shoot-out. "But we appreciate that it costs a lot to travel, so we put on five big buses to make sure the supporters could get there. We are determined to get to the third round and we would have liked to have done the same for next Saturday's match, but unfortunately we have been offered only 195 tickets."

Property developer Pedan, who celebrated his 50th birthday yesterday, is based in Stratford-upon-Avon, but travels the country on business and has ambitious plans for Darlington, of which he owns 87 per cent. A pounds 2.2m new stand project is under way.

"There is a lot of potential support in the area and the new facility will give us a wonderful commercial opportunity as we go about regenerating the club," he said.

If selling names on shirts is part of his plan, it will be interesting to see how many takers he can drum up for Darlington's reserve goalkeeper, one Loukas Papaconstantinou, who must surely possess the longest single- barrelled surname in the game.

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