Football: Walker goes gunning for Worcestershire's finest: Eleven non-League teams are 90 minutes from a chance of the big time. Phil Shaw looks at the weekend's FA Cup second-round ties

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The Independent Online
WHILE the flannelled fools of Worcestershire regularly avail themselves of the summer game's silverware, its muddied oafs have seldom been much more than a footballing footnote. All that may be about to change.

The county of Dolly, Dilley, Uncle Tom Graveney and all has never had a Football League club. And since Worcester City's 1959 victory over Liverpool, FA Cup success has been strictly small-scale. Bromsgrove Rovers and Kidderminster Harriers, both casting an ambitious eye on the Third Division, have an excellent chance of rectifying the latter situation today.

Standing between both and a third-round debut are fellow Vauxhall Conference sides: Bromsgrove go to Yeovil, with Kidderminster home to Woking. If Rovers make it into tonight's draw alongside the Premiership elite on Match of the Day, they will have earned it. Having hit the Wembley trail in September, this is their sixth tie this season, as many as manager Bobby Hope played to earn a winner's medal with West Bromwich Albion in 1968.

Hope springs eternal in the Cup, the former Scotland midfielder suggesting that Yeovil, with a record 17 League victims, might be complacent against another non-League outfit. 'Some people down there thought that once they'd beaten Fulham, they were as good as through to the third round again,' he said. 'That's given us a nice gee-up.'

Kidderminster's build-up, a 1-0 defeat by today's visitors which cost them the Conference leadership, was inauspicious. However, the prospect of creating the kind of history Woking made at West Bromwich three years ago should be all the incentive Harriers need. Clive Walker, once of Chelsea but now doubling as Woking's top scorer and an auction-buyer, is the man most likely to put their hopes under the hammer.

Of the seven non-League teams meeting full-time opposition, only two are at home. Crawley, of the Beazer Homes Premier Division, have a real chance of ousting Barnet, bottom of the Second Division, at their Town Mead ground. Bath, who host Hereford tomorrow, are unbeaten away, so even a draw would not necessarily be greeted with glee by Greg Downs's side, who lost a home replay to Yeovil last year.

It may, however, be asking too much of another Beazer Premier side, Nuneaton Borough, to repeat their first-round conquest of Swansea at Bournemouth. Nuneaton will have a 1,500-strong following, probably the weekend's biggest Cup convoy.

Similarly, Halifax might find Stockport away a tougher nut to crack than West Bromwich at home. Stalybridge Celtic, who visit Carlisle buoyed by a fraternal fax of support from Lou Macari at the other Celtic, have arguably a better chance of going through, though they will have to claim their first League victims to do it.

Sammy McIlroy's Macclesfield can match Yeovil's haul of four League scalps in the past seven years, but face quality opposition at Crewe. Sutton United, flying the Diadora League flag at Torquay, can also draw on a recent past rich in Cup exploits - as Coventry would testify - and will be heartened by their hosts' record of just two home wins to date.

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