Bulls ready for FA Vase adventure

JERSEY BULLS’ second-qualifying-round FA Vase tie against Billingshurst gives the club and players the opportunity to compete in one of the most prestigious English footballing contests ever, according to the club’s director, Ian Horswell.

Jersey Bulls will travel to Billingshurst this weekend to compete in their second round FA Vase fixture. Picture:DAVID FERGUSON.
Jersey Bulls will travel to Billingshurst this weekend to compete in their second round FA Vase fixture. Picture:DAVID FERGUSON.

Bulls travel away to West Sussex on Saturday to compete in the Vase against Billinghurst, who play their league football in Division I of the Southern Combination Football League.

This will be the first time the Bulls have competed in the competition, and Horswell believes the players will relish the opportunity of competing in the cup against a side they have not faced before.

‘The history behind the Vase is massive and the eventual final is played at Wembley, which is something every football player dreams of,’ he said.

‘For now the boys have to focus on this second-round fixture and they will be up for the challenge of playing new opposition on a new pitch in a new competition.’

The FA Vase, which replaced the FA Amateur Cup in 1974, allows non-league sides to compete in a contest and includes entries of up to 600 clubs. The final is hosted at Wembley.

Bulls’ opponents this weekend from the south of England beat Elmstead in the first qualifying round on penalties after it finished two apiece after 90 minutes.

Despite Billingshurst’s first-round victory, Horswell believes the Bulls will be favourites on paper.

He added: ‘We hope to win this one but we won’t be complacent going into it, as we know they will be a strong side and be well up for the challenge.

‘It is a cup contest, which brings added pressure, as there are no second chances and anything can happen, as it is just one set of 90 minutes to decide who goes through and who goes out.’

The Saturday fixture will be the first this season where the Bulls travel back to the Island on the same day they leave, Horswell explained.

‘The team will be flying out Saturday morning for their 1.30pm kick-off and will fly back via Southampton on Saturday evening on a new flight introduced by Blue Islands, which means we can now play Saturday fixtures and the players will get their Covid test results back in time for work on Monday.’

This will be the Bulls’ first fixture in two weeks, as their recent weekend fixture against Eversley and California FC were postponed because of flight cancellations.

Despite the interruptions, many players have been keeping match-fit by appearing for their dually registered JFA combination club sides at the weekend.

Horswell said the club always expected games to be postponed throughout the season and it would just mean an extra potential double-header further on in the year.

He added: ‘Once the on-Island Covid testing turnaround time is a guaranteed 12 hours we will be able to regularly play double-headers to cope with our games in hand and still get the players home and tested in time for work on a Monday.’

Jersey Bulls are not the first club from the Island to participate in the FA Vase. That honour goes to First Tower United – thanks to the patronage of the late Jack Walker – who entered the competition for 20 years between 1978 and 1998.

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