Whitby relishing EFL trip in FA Cup

Liam Ryder started out selling raffle tickets for Whitby Town and now the club’s head of media is relishing the prospect of meeting League One side Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup.

The Pitching In Northern Premier League Premier Division team will make their first appearance in the first round proper for 20 years on Saturday.

Following a thrilling 3-1 fourth qualifying round replay win against Chelmsford City at the Towbar Express Stadium, Ryder has been inundated with messages about ticket sales ahead of the clash with the League One side.

And the media manager, who turns 24 on the same weekend as the match, is hoping the special tie will make it a birthday to remember in the South West.

“It was a big sigh of relief after the replay,” Ryder said.

“That was one of the highlights of my time at Whitby so far because we’ve had a few shockers in the FA Cup over the years.

“To finally get there after 20 years is a good feeling. At our level, it’s one of those things where it’s rare that it comes around.

“In terms of the draw itself, it’s one of the better draws we could’ve got, any Football League team is good but League One, especially away from home, is even better.

“It’s one of those where, as a club, it’d be nice to get a result but I think we’ll just go there and enjoy it and have a good day out.

“Hopefully, we’ll get a few hundred who travel. There is plenty of interest.”

Whitby Town are one of more than 220 clubs across the country supported by Pitching In, a multi-million-pound grassroots sport investment programme powered by Entain, owners of Ladbrokes and Coral.

And Ryder, who got involved with the club as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award in 2016, is one of countless volunteers who play integral roles at non-league clubs across the country, with opportunities to get involved available to view through the Pitching In Volunteer Hub.

“Some of the older generation have been there before, the main thing is the younger fans that we’re trying to get to come down and really support the club,” Ryder said.

“It’s good for them to see them get to the first round proper because it doesn’t come round too often.

“Some of our fans will still remember us getting to the second round in the 1980s, so let’s hope we can cause an upset and do the same.”

Whitby Town last made the FA Cup first round under Harry Dunn, who proved to be the club’s most successful manager, winning the FA Vase in 1997.

A win at Rovers would put the current crop into the history books and those behind the scenes are dreaming of a magical Cup performance at the Memorial Stadium.

“Without volunteers, not a lot would get done at a club because there is just so much that goes on," added Ryder.

“We’ve got a team that are at the ground every day of the week because there is something that always needs doing.

“We’re semi-professional but there is so much that you would expect to see at a professional club as well.”

Find volunteering opportunities at your local club by visiting https://pitchinginvolunteers.co.uk/

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