The final of the Sussex Bluefin Junior Challenge Cup is due to take place on Tuesday 2 April 2019 between Rudgwick and The Junior Club Tackleway.
Rudgwick vs. The Junior Club Tackleway
Sussex Bluefin Junior Challenge Cup Final
Date: Tuesday 2 April 2019
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX
The Junior Club Tackleway’s journey to the final of the Sussex Bluefin Junior Challenge Cup has been a long one - five hundred miles in fact.
That is the distance manager John Benton estimates his Hastings-based team have travelled during a cup run which has seen them drawn away from home in five of their six ties.
Next Tuesday (April 7) East Sussex League Division One outfit The Junior Club Tackleway will take on West Sussex League Division Two North promotion chasers Rudgwick on a special night for both clubs at Culver Road.
Benton said: “It has been a tough ask getting to the final. We have travelled about five hundred miles. As a club, I’m not sure if we have been in this cup before and certainly not for a few years. I wanted to enter it this year and I’m glad we did.
“To reach any county final is some achievement. To me it is a great achievement and to the players it is amazing. Quite of few of the boys playing this year were playing in the second team last year so they have done really well and I am really pleased for them.”
The Junior Club Tackleway is a club which is more than one hundred years old. It was formed during World War One, in 1916, having been set up by a local priest to give youngsters something to do in their spare time. Former players include Dean White who went to play for Millwall and Gillingham as well as being first-team coach at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Now 58, Benton played for the club at under-12 level and is in his third spell as manager. He said: “It has been a long association with the club, off and on. When I was manager in 2003 I was a player-manager and one or two players who played for me then are still around and will be in the squad for the final.
“I came back as manager a couple of years ago because I was missing football and wanted to give it one more go. Reaching a county cup final is something you don’t expect, so it has been really good.”
Like Tackleway, a Sussex Cup final will be a momentous occasion for ambitious Rudgwick.
Manager Ian Matthews said: “It is the furthest we have ever gone in a County Cup competition and it will be the single most honour if we go on to win it. It is pretty huge for us. I would have been happy at the start of the season with the quarter-final.
“This is my second year as manager and we have put a lot of work into the squad over the last two seasons. When I took over there were five or six first-team players left. We had to rebuild.
“This is good for me, good for the club and most of all it is good for the players to play in what for some of them will be the highest level of competition they can and have ever played in.”
Matthews has been associated with the club since 2010 as a player and running the Sunday team. He admits there is a good ‘feel’ around the club, which is highlighted by local players Matthew Barnett and Joe Berwick continuing to play for Rudgwick even though they live in London now.
Rudgwick have two hot goal-scorers in Kieron Greig and Mark Blick, who currently each have thirty three for the season. Matthews hopes they keep on scoring - in the final and beyond.
He said: “We have a five-year plan. We are two seasons into that and we are a year ahead of schedule. In the next two years the aim is to get in a position where we were in the premier division and competing. The ambition is definitely to gain promotion to intermediate football.”
Entry prices for the final are as follows:
£5.00 Adult (17+)
£3.00 Concession (65+ and students with valid student ID card)
FREE Child (16 and under)
For further details about the Sussex Bluefin Junior Challenge Cup please contact Competitions:
T: 01903 753547