HYDE UNITED are set for arguably the biggest game in the club’s history as they host MK Dons in the FA Cup First Round tonight.
The Tigers are roaring again this season after 3 successive relegations saw them slip back into English football’s 8th tier in 2016.
Not only did they go on a 23-match unbeaten run, stretching back to the latter stages of last season, but they have reached the FA Cup proper for the first time since 1994/95.
Darren Kelly’s men overcame Congleton, Kendal, Warrington Town, Boston Town and Scarborough Athletic to put their name in the hat for the First Round.
The BBC sensed something big was about to happen as they broadcast live from Hyde’s Ewen Fields ground when the draw was made. And sure enough the Tigers were handed a home tie against League One side MK Dons.
The BBC then chose to show the game live in tonight’s primetime slot on BBC2, giving Hyde the kind of exposure Salford City (2015/16) and Tameside rivals Curzon Ashton (2016/17) have enjoyed in the last 2 years.
The Tigers have already banked £29,425 in prize money from this season’s run, battling through 5 qualifying rounds, but tonight’s game will see them pocket about another £100,000 from TV revenue, sponsorship and gate receipts.
It’s been busy down at Ewen Fields in the build-up to the game, with the club replacing some broken seats to squeeze in as manage fans as possible. BetFred has stepped in to be the main shirt sponsor for the evening while Almost Famous will have a burger stall down there.
Local boxing hero Ricky Hatton has backed the Tigers, saying the game is great for the club and the area, while several media outlets have latched onto Hyde’s links with Sir Geoff Hurst.
The World Cup winner was born in Ashton and lived in Denton tell he was 8, his dad played for Hyde’s reserves in the 1930’s and Sir Geoff is now honorary president of the Evo-Stik North club.
The Tigers go into the game 5th in the table after emphatic wins over Brighouse (5-1) and Goole (4-1) in their last 2 games. Former Bury trainee Tom Pratt scored a hat-trick against Brighouse to take his tally for the season to 7 although Matt Beadle is Hyde’s top scorer with 9, including a hat-trick in their thrilling replay win at Boston Town (pictured below).
Pictures courtesy of Alan Palmer Photography
Since winning 2-0 at Bury on September 30, the Dons have failed to win in 5 league games, leaving them 16th in League One. Some 5 divisions and 107 places therefore separate the two sides but this is the FA Cup, and Hyde will be cheered on by a bumper crowd. The Tigers average crowds of just over 300 but all 3,000 of their tickets have been snapped up while, by Thursday afternoon, the Dons had sold 203 of their allocation of 525.
The Tigers already hold a piece of Cup history as they suffered the biggest-ever Cup defeat, 26-0 by Preston in 1887 – after which the excellent 26nil.com commentary team is named after.
But victory tonight would put Hyde into the Second Round for the first time in their long history and see them write their name into Cup folklore for all the right reasons.