THE long road to Wembley starts as early as August for some local soccer clubs involved in the three national cup competitions – the FA Cup, FA Trophy and FA Vase.
Eastbourne Town have a difficult away draw against Dulwich Hamlet in the FA Cup.
In the Trophy, they will take on Chatham Town at the Saffrons, the reward for victory being a tough journey to one of Greenwich Borough, Horley Town or Corinthian Casuals.
In the Trophy they are at home to the Kent side Chatham Town with the incentive of another home game against Hitchin Town in the next round.
There is no place for Eastbourne United AFC in the national competitions because ground improvements were not completed in time.
United secretary Brian Dowling told the Gazette, “It seemed inappropriate to ask for funding to improve facilities and then say that your facilities are up to the standard required for FA competitions.
“But it is frustrating to find Hailsham competing as they were relegated on account of their facilities.”
FA CUP: Extra preliminary round, August 20: Hailsham Town v Lingfield. Preliminary round (September 3): Dulwich Hamlet v Eastbourne Town; Hailsham Town or Lingfield v Chichester City or Fisher. First qualifying round (September 17): Greenwich Borough or Horley Town or Corinthian Casuals v Dulwich Hamlet or Eastbourne Town; Horsham v Hailsham Town or Lingfield or Chichester City or Fisher.
Eastbourne Borough enter the FA Cup at the third qualifying round stage.
FA TROPHY: preliminary round (October 8): Eastbourne Town v Chatham Town. First qualifying round (October 16): Eastbourne Town or Chatham Town v Hitchin Town.
Eastbourne Borough enter the FA Trophy at the third qualifying round.
FA VASE (1st qualifying round, September 10): Seaford Town v Cobham; Hailsham Town v Epsom & Ewell. Second qualifying round (September 24): Erith & Dartford Town v Seaford Town or Cobham; Lingfield or Ringmer v Hailsham Town or Epsom & Ewell. First round (October 22): Lingfield or Ringmer or Hailsham Town or Epsom & Ewell v Wick or Woodstock Sports or Bookham or Westfield; Erith & Dartford Town or Seaford Town or Cobham v Erith & Belvedere or Tunbridge Wells or Mile Oak.