'It's all people want to talk about' – AFC Sudbury prepares for FA Cup clash

The AFC Sudbury players and management after beating Dartford to reach the First Round of the FA Cup.

AFC Sudbury players and staff celebrate getting through to the first round of the FA Cup following victory against Dartford - Credit: Paul Voller

AFC Sudbury's eagerly-awaited FA Cup first round tie against Colchester United is the talk of the town, according to the club's chairman, as extensive preparations for the historic game continue. 

The Suffolk non-league side will face off against League Two professionals Colchester at the MEL Group stadium in a mouth-watering clash on Friday night in front of a national television audience

The game is being shown live on BBC Two, with the club to receive a £50,000 broadcast fee – and a further £22,629 will also go to the match winner. 

AFC Sudbury's Wardale Williams Stadium

The historic game will be played at AFC Sudbury's MEL Group stadium home - Credit: Archant

AFC Sudbury, which formed in 1999 following the amalgamation of Sudbury Town and Sudbury Wanderers, have only ever been to the FA Cup first round proper once in their history. 

The west Suffolk club faced Darlington away in the first round during the 2000/01 season but were beaten 6-1. 


AFC Sudbury chairman Andrew Long (middle), with joint managers Rick Andrews (left) and Angelo Harrop - Credit: Steve Screech

Andrew Long, club chairman, said the ground capacity has had to be scaled down to accommodate television cameras and extra lighting but confirmed there will be 2,000 spectators at the game. 

"It's all people want to talk about locally. It's great to see people walking down the high street with a yellow shirt on rather than a Manchester United or a Liverpool shirt," he said.

"It's something the club's never experienced before. It's unusual, of course, getting to the first round of the FA Cup, but then, when it became a local game against our near neighbours from Colchester, and then being on national television and Talksport radio and all those types of things, it's a lot of preparation. 

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"We've never had a game when we've had to segregate supporters like we have to. There are things we've never had to think about in terms of policing, local authorities, various safety rules. 

"We had an idea what our capacity was but that's been gradually whittled downwards to comply with perfectly necessary safety requirements but also to accommodate the vast amounts of equipment the various media outlets are bringing with them, particularly the television. 

"We've had to find space for 20 cameras, pop-up studios, and additional lighting that's needed. Our lighting is 200 lux, which is really good for our level but the BBC required 600, so they are bringing with them banks of lighting rigs that we've got to put somewhere."

Even manager AFC Sudbury boss Rick Andrews joins the celebrations for Lewis O'Malley's match-clinching goal against Dartford

Even manager AFC Sudbury boss Rick Andrews joins the celebrations for Lewis O'Malley's match-clinching goal against Dartford - Credit: Paul Voller

Mr Long paid tribute to the club's many volunteers for their efforts in the build-up to the much-anticipated clash with their A134 neighbours. 

"It's a huge learning curve for everyone involved," he added. "We're so reliant on our group of volunteers who have done huge amounts of work.

"There was a group there on Sunday in the pouring rain and howling wind, putting up fencing needed for security and safety reasons. They've done a fantastic job."