It's the FA Cup First Round Proper but not as we know it.
As Lockdown II hits non league football at Step 3 and below, a handful of clubs still in the FA Cup have been handed special non-elite dispensation to take part in this weekend's competition. Tim Fuell talks to one Chairman and one manager about the surreal world they are operating before the biggest game of their season... a season on hold if they don't get a win this weekend.
First up Phil Annets @FACupFactfile with his usual stream of cup stats and facts about the 40 clubs in action this weekend.
Geoff Thompson has had a rollercoaster introduction to the Chairmanship of South Shields, especially in 2020. Well clear at the top of the Northern Premier League last term in the season that never was, he challenged the authorities and was rebuffed, then in the return to football he saw his club crippled by the 600 fan limit - less than half their usual crowd. This weekend's potential money-spinning FA Cup First Round trip to league opposition looks set to be costly too. A lenghty-trip to Cheltenham Town with no TV coverage and a reliance that enough will purchase the live stream of the game to cover costs and avoid another loss to be shared by the clubs. Yet, his wider dream of building a club the right way is still on course. A new crowdfunding investment scheme has hit target early and he's confident that not only with his club do him and non league proud this weekend in the FA Cup, but also be successful in their aim to climb the pyramid.
Mark Bentley reached the Third Round of The FA Cup in consecutive seasons as a player with Gillingham. Now as manager at Canvey Island he leads his side this weekend into an all non-elite club non league tie at Banbury United, with much focus on who will make it to Round 2.
David Richardson, Senior Writer at The Non League Paper provides his round up of the week's events and what may happen next plus what can be read in this weekend's paper.