It may be common to find clubs complaining about the fixture backlog thrown up by success in cup competitions - but that’s something you won’t find at Crewe United.
The Mid Ulster Football League Intermediate A side’s manager Colin Telford is relishing their forthcoming Intermediate Cup second round clash with Northern Amateur Football League Premier Division outfit Crumlin United (Mill Road, Crumlin, 1.30pm), and is hoping it’s the first of many more cup clashes to come.
As a side on the up, Telford is looking to build a winning momentum and mentality, as the club keep their long-term dream of a return to the ranks of the Irish League alive.
However, after narrowly escaping relegation last season, Crewe will be looking to take things one step at a time… and that next step arrives with Saturday’s tie.
More often than not, in such matches pairing NAFL teams against MUFL, that the former are considered favourites, but Telford shirks the notion that Crewe’s short trip to Crumlin should hold any fear for them.
He said: “They should be fearing us. They have been a Division 1A team for a long time, and everything is new to them after making the step up.
“If I look at my own experience of getting the same promotion when I was manager of Rosario, you can carry a winning momentum from the start of the season, but it’s hard to keep that going all the way through. I remember being second after four or five games, but as I say, staying there is another thing.
“Anyway, I’m not so sure that they should be the favourites. I’ve managed in both divisions, and I don’t really think there isn’t really that much difference in the standard. I’ll tell you who I think the best team in the whole of Northern Ireland amateur football by a country mile are - Newry City AFC - and we gave them a run for their money earlier this season.”
In fact, Crewe brought Newry’s run of six straight league wins to an end last month and are the only team to have taken any points off them in the Intermediate A campaign to date.
So, Crumlin would be well advised not to underestimate the quality of their opponents, and given that this is a local derby match, it is highly unlikely that they will.
Telford continued: “They are only 10 minutes away from us… that’s the spice. I think that’s why the IFA picked it as their tie of the round. It’s interesting that we have tied each other so early in this competition.
“Our aim for the season is to get ourselves a top five finish and I’d say Paddy Kelly (Crumlin manager) would be just as happy if they could get that in their league, too, so I reckon it will be an even enough game.”
Ask Telford, or that matter, any of the hierarchy at Crewe about what the future holds for their club, and they will speak in glowing, exciting terms.
Take a visit to their facilities on the Lisburn Road in Glenavy, and you’ll see everything is in place to make the next step up. However, everyone at Crewe knows that there are no divine rights in football, and to push on will require hard work… including in this Saturday’s clash with Crumlin.
“Crewe United have their best years ahead of them, over the next three or four years,” claimed Telford. “We have new training facilities going in soon, and good up-and-coming talent making its way through.
“What I want this year is experience. I want to build competition in the group. I want high pressure games, and I want to learn from those.
“Put it this way, the bigger the experience we can earn, the more it will benefit our squad.”