18th Dec, 2018

Cup fever sweeps borough as Solihull Moors 90 minutes away from biggest game in their history

Felix Nobes 5th Dec, 2018

CUP fever is sweeping the borough with non-league minnows Solihull Moors 90 minutes away from the biggest game in their history.

And BBC TV live coverage of their fortunes has been putting the town in the national spotlight.

The National League side could entertain Premier League giants Arsenal in the third round of the FA Cup.

But they must first upset League One Blackpool in a second round replay away at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday, December 18.

The match has been rescheduled for it to be broadcast live by BT Sport.

The teams played out a fiercely contested 0-0 draw last Friday (November 30) live on BBC2 TV, with Moors nearly snatching victory – having a goal disallowed.

Blackpool, a historic giant, are in the third tier of English football, while Arsenal are in the first. The Solihull side are in the fifth.

Moors – formed in 2007 when Solihull Borough FC and Moor Green merged – have triumphed against the odds, climbing to near the summit of the National League this season.

Sporting director Mark Fogarty says the future is bright for the club, which is dreaming of attaining Football League status.

Millions of people saw his passionate reaction to the stunning third round dream draw, which was also live on BBC TV on Monday (November 3).

The club’s humble 3,000-seat home ground Damson Park – now known as the Automated Technology Group Stadium – would host the Gunners, who are flying high in the Premiership.

Moors are managed by superstar former England, Wolves and Coventry City goalkeeper Tim Flowers.

He replaced Mark Yates who left to become Macclesfield boss in the summer, after saving the club from relegation.

Flowers and his assistant Gary Whild have transformed the club’s fortunes, with Moors now fifth in the National League.

Mr Fogarty, in his sixth year at the club’s helm, told Observer about the Arsenal draw: “It’s one of those moments that I will remember for the rest of my life.

“It was almost surreal. But extremely exciting as well.

“We have got a real tough ask to go to Blackpool and win. They are a very good side.

“But I think we have got a strong mentality within the group. I think we really have a chance.”

Of the potential Arsenal visit, Mr Fogarty added: “These footballers are all human beings you know.

“And on our own turf, they won’t like coming here. It becomes a psychological game as well.”

Whild told us: “With the draw, you can’t really get a bigger incentive than that to get through.

“I think the FA Cup always gives you a lot of coverage, and puts you on the map.

“From 2007 to now, what the club has achieved with its status in the National League and now the involvement in the FA Cup second round is a fantastic achievement.

“Even to be mentioned in the same breath as Arsenal is an amazing thing.”

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