Crawley FanZoner Dan Charman questions if the FA Cup is as important to the Reds this season.
Promotion seems the real target for Crawley this season
It is safe to say that there is nothing in this world that beats an FA cup match day, but on the eve of the third round which will see Brian McDermott's Premier League side come to the Broadfield, I ask a simple question, what should take priority, league or cup?
The FA cup has been a dream for Crawley Town Fans over the past few years, with a fifth round tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford where over 10,000 fans travelled up to Manchester to watch the biggest game in our history. We lost 1-0 in a game which could have been a different result if a bit of luck was on our side.
Last year, another fantastic run took us into the fifth round for a second successive year, this time a home tie against Stoke City. Again, luck wasn't on our side and the 3-0 win by 10 man Stoke flattered them somewhat in what was otherwise another fairly close encounter. This year, we have made it to the 3rd round and hoping for our first ever win against Premier League opposition, but this season is different to previous years.
This year we're in League One, halfway through the season and a point off the play offs. I have no doubt that we have already survived relegation and the minimum achievement this season will be a mid-table finish. If we were told we would be in this situation two years ago I would have told you where to go. Establishing ourselves in the league is vital; we need to set up a foundation for the future, so we can attract the bigger players, a bigger fan base and attract bigger sponsors.
However, with all that said, the FA Cup is the most prestigious cup competition in the world and over the past couple of years it has given our club the boost we needed. It has also given our club a massive financial boost due to both fifth round games being televised along with gate receipts sales which not only brought financial stability but it also brought our team firmly into the spotlight. Just like every single Crawley Town Fan, we want our club to compete on the biggest stages in football.
We want to go to the big stadiums, we want to pay for overpriced tickets and overpriced pies. Why? Because, this is the first time we have had the chance to do all those things and we want to see our club go from strength to strength and establish itself as one of the great clubs in league football.
The choice on whether you think league or cup should be given priority is up to you? But I know that come tomorrow I will be at the Broadfield. I will be cheering on Richie Barker and his boys in red.
There will be no pressure, we go into this game as the underdogs but over the past couple of years Crawley Town has recorded six wins over higher ranked opposition. A Premier League scalp still eludes us and I will be praying to the football gods that we give Reading a game to remember. Hopefully after ninety minutes we are the ones in the draw for the fourth round.