Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Sat 29 September 2007

SPAOTP's Road to Wembley: FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round

Welcome one and all as we once again head off on The Road to Wembley.

As you'll remember from last time, we're tracking the progress of one team from the early rounds of the FA Cup (sponsored by E.On, never forget that) through to the Final. We began with the First Qualifying Round two weeks ago, and there our chosen team was Burnham Ramblers.

Sadly for Burnham, the writing was on the wall as they played away to Chelmsford City, operating two tiers above them in the Ryman League (formerly the Isthmian League) Premier Division. The result may not have come as much of a surprise to many (especially the home fans), but the 5-0 trouncing of Burnham sadly brought their run in the Cup to an end.

Fortunately for us, that's not the case as we now throw all our support behind Chelmsford City as we head into the Second Qualifying Round. They, too, are playing away today and are up against Hemel Hempstead Town from the British Gas Business League (formerly Southern League) Premier Division.

(And in case you're wondering, the Southern League and Isthmian League are both on the same tier, so to speak - that's three levels below Coca-Cola League 2.)

So what do we know about Chelmsford City? Well, they're sitting third in the Ryman Premier League table out of 22 teams having won five and drawn two of their games. Their top scorer in the league so far this season is Kezie Ibe with five goals but Ricky Holmes and penalty specialist Stuart Ainsley are not far behind on four.

Chelmsford City's home ground is Melbourne Park and there you'll typically find between 1,000 and 1,500 people cheering them on every other week. Their manager is Jeff King who was head honcho at Canvey Island up to May 2006 but when he left for Chelmsford, many of his old players followed him up the A130 too.

Chelmsford's last Southern League title win was in 1972 but they stand a decent chance of getting another one this season - if only they could improve their away form. At home so far they've won all five games including an impressive 7-0 victory over Maidstone United, but on their travels they have just two draws and two defeats to their name.

That sounds a little ominous to us, especially as their opponents, Hemel Hempstead, are currently top of the British Gas Premier Division. The bookmakers currently have Hemel as the favourites to win today's match but we know Chelmsford can do it, don't we? Let's wish them well as they go into battle today and if you're going along to the game, why not leave us a comment to tell us how it all went? We'd be glad to hear from you...

While we're on the subject of such things, we'd like to tell you about some more people who are doing their own 'Road to Wembley'. First of all, there's Paul Kirkwood who's once again embarking on his FA Cup Ground Hopper this season. He's a bit of an old hand at this game compared to us green naive types, so it's with some confidence we can say that his website is one that's well worth visiting. It's wonderfully written and captures that magical essence of the early rounds of the FA Cup (sponsored by... oh, you know the rest). Check it out and leave him a comment to show your support - it means a lot to us blogger types... :)

Also, a couple of days after the last round of the Cup took place, we heard from Brooner who's on the glory trail with the rest of us. His exploits are detailed on his blogsite 'Did He Really Mean It?' where, as before, you'll get a great insight into the highs and lows of the early rounds of the competition. More great writing awaits you there, so drop by and say 'hello' - hell, even swap notes about your travels, if you like. Brooner will be looking forward to hearing from you.

Best of luck to all of you following the Second Qualifying Round today and do let us know how your team got on. Meantime, if you want to keep up-to-date with us and all our other Road To Wemblists, check out the special section we've created to the right of the page.

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