Manager Mark Clifford says he’s relishing the chance to go up against one of his former sides when Basford United host National League North side Boston United in the third qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.
Clifford spent three seasons with the Pilgrims as a player, promoted to the Football League from the old Nationwide Conference in 2002, and was also voted in that season’s team of the year.
Speaking after a 2-1 win over Stourbridge in the Southern League on Tuesday night, he said: “I have a lot of fond memories from my time at Boston and it’ll be the first time – as a player or manager – I’ve ever come up against them.
“I’m still friends with a lot of players that I played with and keep in contact with them, as well as a lot of the fans – some of whom will probably come on Saturday – so I’m really looking forward to it.
“I always keep an eye out for their results and how they’re getting on, but my focus is fully on how we prepare and perform, and we’ll be doing all we can to get the victory.”
A win would take Basford into the fourth qualifying round of the competition for the first time in their history and a large crowd is expected at their Greenwich Avenue home for the fixture.
It’s a huge draw for Clifford’s current side who were playing park football no less than ten years ago, prior to a meteoric rise up the non-league pyramid.
But despite the prospect of facing the likes of Notts County or Chesterfield in the next round, Clifford – who took over the managerial reigns in January – remains firmly grounded but admits it’s hard not get too involved in the buzz.
“Since the draw was made, there’s been a great atmosphere around the place,” he said.
“People ask you questions, ask if you’re looking forward to it, what it means me and whilst you want to be a part of that, you have to keep your feet on the ground and remain focussed on trying to win that game.
“As a fan, it’s exciting and to see a big name like Boston come to Greenwich Avenue for a competitive FA Cup fixture is excellent for us as a club, the fans, and the community.
“However, Frecks [Dave Frecklington; assistant manager], the players and I have a job this week to get us as prepared as we can be and that’s what we’re going to try and do.”
Basford have encouraged that all tickets should be purchased in advance to assist with managing the higher-than-expected queues on the day but pay on the gate will also be in operation.
Tickets can be purchased via their club shop, which you can visit at: www.bufcclubshop.com
*Article provided by Marc Williams (Basford United Correspondent).
*Main image @Basfordutd Manager Mark Clifford spent three years at Boston.