Bath seek to repeat FA Cup history

By Rupert Metcalf
Saturday 25 January 2014 03:30

Oxford University, seeking to win the FA Cup for the second time in what was their fourth appearance in the final, were beaten 1-0 by Clapham Rovers, who thus gained revenge for three earlier losses to the same opponents in the competition.

The venue was The Oval in Kennington, the date was 10 April 1880, and it was the last time a student representative side played a match in the FA Cup proper. After a gap of 122 years, Team Bath may be about to follow in Oxford University's historic footsteps.

If Team Bath win away to the Ryman League club Horsham in tomorrow's fourth qualifying round, they will reach the first round proper.

Their players are students at the University of Bath but, unlike their 19th-century counterparts from Oxford (stalwarts of the amateur era), most of them are no strangers to professional football.

Thanks partly to subsidies from the Professional Footballers' Association, Team Bath's players combine the game with either degree courses or studying for Higher National Diplomas. Many of them were released by Premiership or Football League clubs after serving apprenticeships.

The midfielder Mark Brereton was formerly with Millwall. The former Welsh youth international winger Matt Lewis has had spells with Cardiff City and Coventry City, for whom he played against West Ham in the 1999 FA Youth Cup final. The striker Barry Lavety, once of St Mirren and Hibernian, has been capped by Scotland at Under-21 level.

Team Bath play in the Premier Division of the Screwfix Direct (Western) League, having risen rapidly from the Bath and District League, and this is their first season in the FA Cup, in which they have beaten Barnstaple Town, Backwell United, Bemerton Heath Harlequins and, with a splendid 3-0 away victory, Newport County to reach tomorrow's stage.

"We're on a roll," their team manager Ged Roddy said. "We're playing some great football, we've got absolutely nothing to lose."

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