The Emirates FA Cup draw has handed Eastbourne Borough a journey into the unknown.
They travel to Brantham Athletic – 120 miles away on the Suffolk coast – in their second qualifying round tie on Saturday 22ndSeptember.
Brantham, of the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League Premier Division, reached this stage of the competition with a 1-0 win over Spalding United on Saturday.
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The Blue Imps play at Step Five – the equivalent of the Southern Combination – and currently sit in mid-table, having played only three league games. They entered the FA Cup in the Extra Preliminary Round at the beginning of August, and have dispensed with Wivenhoe Town (5-0 a), Welwyn Garden City (1-0 h) and Spalding United (1-0 h) to reach this stage.
With prize money almost doubled this season, an FA Cup run can be a huge boost to finances. Last weekend’s winners each earned £6,000, and a victory in the next round comes with a £9,000 cheque. If Eastbourne Borough were to reach the First Round Proper, they would be richer by at least £48,000 in prize money alone – quite aside from gate receipts, commercial opportunities and even the Holy Grail of a possible televised tie. But first things first: it is Brantham or bust for Jamie Howell’s men.