The final of the Sussex Veterans Challenge Cup is due to take place on Sunday 10 April 2022 between Eastbourne Town and Mile Oak.
Eastbourne Town vs. Mile Oak
Sussex Veterans Challenge Cup Final
Date: Sunday 10 April 2022
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX
What a final we are in for on Sunday evening as current holders, and two-time winners, Eastbourne Town, face 2018 winners Mile Oak.
This is a competition that Eastbourne Town solely play in these days and manager, Stuart Myall, can’t wait to be back at Culver Road.
“I like to keep the squad fresh and see what players we can add each year, but we don't take it too seriously. I don't really play now, I'm just on the bench all the time.
“We meet up probably once a month to play and we just want to win, and we all remain competitive no matter how old we get.
“The fact that this competition is played at Lancing, I'm not just saying this, we love that. We've been in three finals, winning two, and the whole day is just so cool.”
What’s more, he is relishing the opportunity to face familiar foes, in Mile Oak.
“What we have noticed is that a lot more Vets football is happening, post-COVID, so the teams we've been playing, you can tell are much fitter.
“When we've played Mile Oak in the past, they've been really, really, similar to us. It's old mates from Brighton, playing old mates from Eastbourne.
“I've had to get a few of the younger boys to play more regularly because teams are getting much fitter. We have a 35-year-old and a couple of 36’s and it just makes a bit of a difference. We have a 51-year-old and I'm 48 so you need a few that can run still!
“The year we won the competition last I think we beat Mile Oak in the Quarter-Final and the last time we played we won 3-0 but they beat us as well before that, so I know it's going to be a tough game.
“It's just going to be nice to see people that you used to go hammer and tongs with but now, whilst it's still competitive, you're looking forward to meeting up with them in the bar after.
“I'm glad it's Mile Oak we're playing because they have older players like us, and I wouldn't know some of the younger ones.”
Lastly, he told us of his team selection ahead of the game: “The WhatsApp group has been going nuts but even though the final is on Sunday myself and Danny [Simmonds] still don't know who will be available, it's been that way for the last few years.
“I think at one point I had 35 on the WhatsApp group that could be in the squad which I've trimmed down, so I've got an idea, but you never know who might pull their hamstring, getting out of bed!”
Mile Oak boss, Tony Burnett, has been part of the club for over 25 years, and led the side to the trophy in 2018, but knows they have a stern test on Sunday.
“It's going to be a really tough game. Eastbourne Town I believe have proved they are the best Vets side in Sussex, and won this cup a couple of times.
“They have ex-pros and county players, Evan Archibald who's scored a lot of goals in the Southern Combination Premier this year so it's definitely a tough assignment.
“I've been with Mile Oak for 26 years, over 400 games in their first-team and now been running the Vets for five or six seasons I think it is.”
Similarly, for Tony, players have been jumping at the chance to be involved on Sunday and trusts what he has at his disposal.
“It's funny because we have six league games left, and I had 13 players last week, then as soon as I message about the final I have 20 players available!
“I've got one ex-pro and a couple of decent ex-Ryman players, and quite a few that played a good level. We haven't lost many games over the years, and the County Cup has been good for us. We won it in 2018, beating Haywards Heath and I think we beat Eastbourne Town in the semi.
“We've had good games with Eastbourne Town over the years, with a lot of goals in the games so it should make for a good final.
“I never really have to manage these lads because they've all played at a good level. We know what we are, and we don't take it too seriously.
“We know who their main threat is, but even if you deal with him there's a handful of other players you've got to worry about, so we've just got to play our own game and take our chances.”
Entry prices are as follows (Cash and Card accepted):
Entry prices for the final are as follows:
£6.00 Adult (17+)
£4.00 Concession (65+ and students with valid student ID card)
FREE Child (16 and under)
£1.50 Official Match Day Programme
For further details about the Sussex Veterans Challenge Cup please contact Competitions:
T: 01903 753547