Brentwood Town meet Staines Town in the 1st round proper of the FA Trophy this Saturday (13th November), 3pm kick-off at the Brentwood Arena.
Brentwood have beaten Corinthian 2-1 in the 2nd qualifying round and AFC Sudbury 3-0 in the 3rd qualifying round to reach this stage of the competition and it has been noted that this is only the second time that a Brentwood Town team has reached the 1st round proper of the FA Trophy.
The previous occasion was way back in 1969-70, the inaugural season for the FA Trophy where, due to their status in the Southern League Premier Division, the old Brentwood Town club came into the competition at the 3rd qualifying round stage. At their home ground, The Hive on the Ongar Road, the Blues beat Cambridge City 3-1 to set up another home tie in the 1st round proper with Hereford United. The visitors earned a replay in a 1-1 draw, their equaliser being scored by their player/manager John Charles, a former Wales international who had played for Leeds United, and Juventus in Italy. Hereford won the replay 2-1 and Brentwood Town FC folded at the end of that season, merging with fellow Southern Leaguers Chelmsford City.
It was not until 2007-08 that a Brentwood team competed in the FA Trophy once again following our promotion to Isthmian North as Essex Senior League champions at the end of the 2006-07 season. We had played in the FA Vase from 1994 to 2007, the most successful season being 95/96 when we reached the 3rd round proper before going out 3-1 after extra time to Thamesmead Town.
Since 2007, we have three times reached the 3rd Qualifying round of the FA Trophy. In 2012/13 we beat Harlow Town 4-0 in a replay after a 0-0 draw at the Brentwood Centre, Walton & Hersham 2-1 away, Lewes 3-0 in a replay after a 3-3 home draw, before finally bowing out 4-1 in another replay after drawing 2-2 at Ryman Premier Kingstonian.
The 2017/18 season saw some remarkable matches. In the preliminary round, we lost a 3-0 half time lead, drawing 3-3 at home to South Park, but won the replay 7-2. A 0-0 draw at home to Bedford Town in the 1st qualifying round meant another replay and another impressive win by four goals to two. Even more impressive was the 3-1 home win over Isthmian Premier Needham Market in the next round. Next up was another home tie in the 3rd qualifying round with National League Dartford and Brentwood took a second half lead until two late goals saw the Darts go through 2-1.
Last season saw more drama as we trailed 2-0 after five minutes to visitors Chichester City. But two Andy Freeman goals either side of half time made it 2-2 and Rob Harvey grabbed a winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time. We then visited Isthmian League Premier Division leaders Bishop’s Stortford in the 3rd qualifying round having been beaten 1-0 at the same ground in the FA Cup just a few weeks earlier. This time we led 2-0 but in the end were beaten 3-2 in a match that was played just a few hours before the second lockdown, which marked the end of our season.