Cornwall. Where many go for beautiful beaches, cream teas and pasties… but maybe not for football.
Could that be about to change?
Truro City are one win away from becoming the first Cornish club to reach the first round of the FA Cup since 1969.
To jog your memory of how long ago that was – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was the top film in the United States, Sugar Sugar by the Archies was the UK number one and George Lazenby was about to make his only outing as James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The White Tigers have never played in the fourth qualifying round before, but could go one stage further if they can win at National League South rivals Hampton and Richmond Borough on Saturday.
“We’ve broken a club record with being in the fourth qualifying round, and now it’s a case of those boys going to enjoy the day and going to perform,” says City’s manager Lee Hodges.
The 44-year-old, whose playing career took him from an apprentice at Tottenham to spells at Barnet, Reading, Plymouth Argyle and Torquay, is in his second spell managing the club.
First time around he was let go, because the club could no longer afford him following a financial crisis.
The rise, fall, and rise again of Truro City
In 2006, thanks to the backing of local property magnate Kevin Heaney, Truro were promoted out of the South Western League – which was Cornwall’s highest level of football.
Three successive promotions and victory in the 2007 FA Vase [the first team to win a trophy at the new Wembley] followed and the club reached the Southern League, which they also won in 2011.
But then came the financial crash. Heaney was declared bankrupt, the club went into administration and were minutes away from being kicked out of what was then the Conference South, before current chairman Peter Masters stepped in with fellow businessman Philip Perryman to save the club.
Former Exeter City defender Steve Tully guided City back to National League South and they made the play-offs in 2016 before he left Treyew Road.
|Cornwall’s FA Cup highlights|
|1962-63 – Falmouth Town reach the first round – losing 2-1 at home to Oxford United|
|1967-68 – Another first round for Falmouth Town and a 5-2 loss at Peterborough United|
|1969-70 – Two years on and Falmouth again make round one, and again lose to Peterborough – this time 4-1 at home|
|1998-99 – St Blazey reach the fourth qualifying round, where they lose to Camberley Town|
Now under Hodges, City are having their best league season and FA Cup run.
“This club’s been around for a long time and to make the fourth qualifying round is a fantastic achievement,” added Hodges.
‘I don’t think they would have a bigger tie in their history’
No club from Cornwall has got through to the first round since 1969, when Falmouth Town were beaten 4-1 at home by Peterborough United.
But Truro have a fair bit of FA Cup experience in their own squad, most notably assistant manager Chris Todd.
He was Eastleigh boss two seasons ago as he guided the National League side to wins over League One Crewe Alexandra and non-league Stourbridge, before losing 3-2 in a replay at Championship side Bolton Wanderers in the third round.
“To get to the first round with Truro would be a remarkable achievement and definitely something I’d hold onto forever,” Todd told BBC Sport.
“Making history for any football club is something special. We’ve made the fourth qualifying round, but I want to make one more step to the first round as there are massive clubs in that.
“It would be huge for the football club, I don’t think they would have a bigger or better tie in their history.”
Making Cornwall proud
Truro is 150 miles to its nearest league rivals, Weston-super-Mare, and almost 250 miles from Saturday’s opponents. This means Truro do not play in Cornwall very often.
They train in the evenings at Exeter City’s training ground and pull in players from around the greater South West region – many of whom have had spells at the likes of Plymouth Argyle, Exeter or Torquay United.
“I’m the only local lad here,” says top scorer Cody Cooke, who juggles his day job as a teacher with scoring goals for Truro.
“But these boys who have come from different areas do understand what it means as well.
“To be part of history in the county like that is massive, and everyone’s excited,” he added.