Excitement is mounting at Hucknall Rolls Leisure, who are counting down the days to the biggest match in their history.
Rolls travel to Retford United for their first-ever appearance in the quarter-finals of the Notts FA Senior County Cup on Tuesday night.
And although manager Jez Corthorn’s modus operandi is to play down such occasions, he freely admits the tie is a huge milestone in the club’s brief eight-year existence.
“It’s another notch on our belt and shows how far we have progressed,” said the 45-year-old Corthorn, who works at Rolls’s Hucknall plant.
“It’s the furthest we have got in the competition, and Retford play two levels above us. But we have nothing to lose, so we may as well give it a good go.”
Retford won the Senior Cup only six years ago to cap a superb season in which they were also crowned Division One South champions of the Unibond League and came within a whisker of reaching the First Round proper of the FA Cup.
Such heady success arrived in the middle of a glorious run by The Badgers in which they climbed, like Rolls, from the Notts Alliance and picked off a host of league and cup honours. They even took Steve Burr’s celebrated Hucknall Town side to extra-time in the Senior Cup semi-finals of 2004.
Although financial restrictions and ground limitations meant they could never crack the Unibond Premier, only as recently as 2012 were they crowned Northern Counties East League (NCEL) champions under the management of Brett Marshall, who went on to boss Town for a brief spell.
Retford remain in the NCEL’s top flight today. But the success has dried up and they languish in the bottom four with only 15 points from 22 games.
Their current manager, Paul Ward (51), a health and fitness club owner, boasts an impressive pedigree as a former professional who made more than 320 appearances for the likes of Middlesbrough, Darlington, Leyton Orient and Scunthorpe United.
But Ward has inspired The Badgers to only one home league win this season, against bottom-of-the-table Nostell Miners Welfare.
Corthorn and/or his chief scout, Andrew Thacker, planned to cast their eye over Retford in action on Saturday. And one significant formline offers Rolls hope of an upset.
In the last round of the competition, The Badgers only squeezed through with a 4-3 extra-time victory over Selston, who missed THREE penalties. Selston played alongside Rolls last term, and finished just seven points above them, when crowned champions of the Notts Senior League.
The other three Senior Cup quarter-finals also take place next Tuesday, with holders Carlton Town entertaining Basford United, Clipstone playing Ruddington and Dunkirk tackling Kimberley Miners Welfare. Also in county cup action this Saturday are Linby Colliery Welfare, who take on local rivals Bestwood Miners Welfare Sports Club in the last eight of the Notts FA Intermediate Cup.