TWO CLUBS with a distinguished history in the competition meet tomorrow in the first round of the FA Umbro Trophy. Dagenham & Redbridge take on Wealdstone at Victoria Road in the first of two crucial cup ties in eight days for the east London club, while the following Saturday they entertain Stevenage Borough in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup.
The Daggers, who are sixth in the Ryman League Premier Division, were beaten by Woking in the 1997 Trophy final, while their predecessors, Dagenham FC, won the tournament in 1980 and were the losing finalists in 1977. The Stones, now in the Ryman First Division, won the Conference and Trophy double in 1985.
Wealdstone, who have risen from the Ryman Third Division while sharing Edgware's ground, at last have realistic hopes of moving home to the borough of Harrow, from which they have been absent for seven years. The club have received permission from the local council to build a new stadium at Prince Edward playing fields, Canons Park.
Elsewhere in the Trophy tomorrow there is an attractive north-east derby at Croft Park, where Blyth Spartans entertain Whitby Town. Blyth, who have promoted a senior player, John Gamble, to the manager's job following Alan Shoulder's departure, will be hoping to gain revenge for a 5-0 home thrashing by Whitby in the UniBond League last week.
Since promotion in the summer, Whitby have made a decent start in the UniBond Premier Division despite the absence of Paul Pitman, their record scorer. Pitman, who has struck 364 goals in 451 games for the club, has been working long hours laying cables on the London Underground's Jubilee Line extension.
Grantham go to Burton Albion under the managership of the former Sheffield United defender, Tony Kenworthy, following Danny Bergara's promotion to the position of Director of Football.
Cirencester meet Cinderford in a Gloucestershire derby but other clubs have long journeys. Solihull Borough travel to Scotland to tackle Gretna, while Heybridge Swifts (where the long-serving Robbie Nihill has succeeded Roy McDonough as manager) head for Wales to play Newport.
King's Lynn, who have named the former Nottingham Forest midfielder, Gary Mills, as player-manager following Tony Spearing's departure, make the tiring trek to Dorset to face Weymouth.
After Graham Roberts, the former Tottenham defender, resigned to become manager of Slough Town, the Ryman Premier club Chesham United have appointed Alan Cork as manager. Cork, the former Wimbledon forward, was previously in charge of Swansea City. Bruce Grobbelaar, the former Liverpool goalkeeper, has also played his last game for Chesham.
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