Debenham Leisure Centre might sound more like something out of The Office than a story related to English football’s most storied tournament, but that’s the key to the good old cliched romance of the F.A. Cup. This weekend, DLC prepared to take on the might of A.F.C. Wimbledon, a relatively big fish in the non-league world these days.
There’s a nice write-up in The Times about the game, as a village with a population of just 1,900 got ready to welcome the hordes for a big-time match-up.
Mel Aldis, the manager, said: “We are the ultimate village football club – we’re boxing a little bit above our weight at the moment. The whole population of the village, which is about 1,900, is less than AFC Wimbledon’s home gate. It’s what the FA Cup is all about.
“We’ve come a long way already and realistically we’d expect to be knocked out at this stage, so to be drawn against Wimbledon with their support when we could have been playing against a club that might bring 50 fans is unbelievable.”
Aldis is unfazed by the prospect of travelling hordes descending on the Leisure Centre. “We’re used to staging big community events such as firework festivals, so we can handle it,” he said. “There’s a big car park and next door there is a school that has a massive car park that we can use.
“We’re not sure how many people we’ll get because Debenham is 12 miles away from Ipswich and they run buses here only every other Friday, so it might put off their supporters who travel by public transport. Whether one person pitches up or 1,000, we’ll welcome them with open arms.”