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Can non-league coaches lead the Bricks to Wembley?

Double act celebrate victory in the FA Cup that will net club £2k

16 August, 2018 — By Steve Barnett

Hadley FC’s Anthony Clark and Junior Matti

THE millionaires of the Premier League grabbed all the headlines at the weekend as they returned to play at packed stadiums across the country in front of countless TV cameras covering their every move.

But in their shadows the oldest cup competition in the world also got underway, with some 736 clubs taking part in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup.

Among the teams dreaming, realistically, of a little more unbudgeted prize money, as opposed to a day out at Wembley, were Hadley FC.

Founded in 1982, the club, nicknamed the Bricks, are firmly rooted in Barnet. In the past 10 months, however, the heart of the team has ­rapidly been beating with more and more talented players from Camden and Islington.

That’s perhaps unsurprising, considering they are the boroughs that the management team know better than most. Former Holloway schoolboy Anthony Clark, who grew up in Agar Grove and now lives in Highgate, took over as manager in October, replacing none other than former Tottenham and Chelsea midfielder Micky Hazard.

Hadley FC line up after beating Fairford Town 2-0 in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup

And former Highbury Grove pupil Junior Matti, who lives in Holloway, also helps coach the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division side.

“I managed Phoenix in the Camden Sunday League, and Admiral in the Islington Midweek League, so over the years I have built up a great knowledge of the talent that plays locally,” explained Clark, who played professionally for Southend United when he was younger.

“I also used to play for Kentish Town when they were in the Spartan South Midlands League, so I have a great understanding of the quality needed to get results at this level. It’s not easy, every single point is precious.”

Clark and Matti stretched the Bricks’ unbeaten run to 13 games on Saturday when two goals from man-of-the-match Jeff Idemudia kickstarted their FA Cup campaign with a 2-0 win over Fairford Town from Gloucestershire.

Fans watching Saturday’s FA Cup tie

It netted the club £2,250, and an away trip to Northamptonshire to face Brackley Town Saints FC in the preliminary round. If they beat the National League North side they would bank another £2,890, while they would get £960 for their troubles should they lose.

Anyone involved with Hadley will tell you that they never look past the next game, but it cannot have escaped them that beating Brackley Town Saints on the bank holiday Monday, August 27, would earn them a first round qualifying tie in which the victors get a whopping £6,000.

Under the new management dream team the Bricks are stepping out onto the pitch with a new-found confidence.

So far this season they have won all three of their games without conceding a single goal. It’s a run of form that the club hope will lead to a surge of season ticket sales, which are currently up for grabs at just £30.

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