Cup fever returns to Nantwich: The Reaction

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With the international break pressing pause on proceedings in England’s top-two tiers, there’s the opportunity for Non-League teams to steal the limelight this weekend.

Nantwich Town are already accustomed to the attention, after their FA Cup first round proper tie against AFC Fylde last week attracted the media and a bumper crowd.

The pubs were buzzing and the town was alive, flooded with green and white. Even a female Sky Sports presenter got in on the act, ‘dabbing’ on TV in honour of the Dabbers.

Despite the eventual 1-0 defeat, it was a day that will live long in the memory for the 1,500 fans who rolled through the turnstiles; an attendance five times larger than the average matchday at Nantwich.

Yet, Chair of the Nantwich Town Supporters Association, Rob Woods, believes this bumper turnout could be matched on a regular basis.

“Nantwich is a growing town, a thriving town,” Woods said. “There’s housing estates going up all over the place, about 20,000 residents and Crewe on the doorstep.

“So, 1,500 fans is realistic for matchdays if we can go on a decent run. When you look at the attendances of the leagues above, there’s no reason why we can’t compete at that level if we get there.

 “The crowds are growing, it’s just about retaining them. That’s why the supporters’ club was formed; fans were drifting away so we are trying to rebuild that bond.”

The Supporters Association have so far raised a total of £60,000 for the club since their formation over a decade ago; money which has been spent in various ways, from a tannoy system and a disabled area, to a ride on lawn-mower for the pitch and travel to away matches for younger fans.

Woods himself often streams matches live from the stands on Facebook, so his friends across the world can feel like they are by his side.

It’s these initiatives that summarise Nantwich Town Football Club and how much impact local supporters can have on a community club.

“At this level, we get to know the players really well,” Woods explained. “A few were out in the pubs after the FA Cup game last Saturday and got a great reception.

“Local lad Troy Bourne, who scored the winner in the previous round against Kings Lynn, will not have to buy another drink in Nantwich ever again.

“There are a few players who are from the local area, and you do bump into them around town.

“It’s also a great feeling when you go to some far-flung places; a dozen of us went to Whitby Town a fortnight ago. The players really appreciate it and we do our bit to encourage them.”

The Dabbers are currently 13th in the Northern Premier League, and after their third FA Cup proper appearance in the club’s 135-year history, Woods is optimistic for the remainder of the season.

“We have a small squad, but the team has a fantastic spirit, the players can tell you that,” he added.

“There’s no reason why we can’t get to the play-offs this season.”

Nantwich host Grantham Town this weekend; a win could shoot the Dabbers up the table, as just three points separate fifth and 14th.

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