Rimington Football Club face the biggest game in their 42-year history tomorrow night when they take on Bay Athletic at Leeds United’s Elland Road in the final of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup.
The village, with a population of 400, will empty for the showpiece clash, to travel over the A59 to roar on Terry Braithwaite’s side.
Braithwaite is pinching himself at leading his players out of the John Charles Stand into the famous old arena, and he looked forward to what promises to be a memorable occasion: “Being a Leeds fan, it’s mind-blowing to be playing at Elland Road, but it’s about the players. It’s the biggest game in the club’s history, but hopefully we’ll just go out and play the game, not the occasion.
“I’m confident if can go out and play as well as we can, we have every chance of winning.”
Huddersfield opponents Bay Athletic hail from the West Riding County Amateur Premier Division - from which Rimington have already knocked out Tyersal, Golcar United and Ovenden West Riding.
And Braithwaite hopes the spirit which has taken the East Lancashire League champions so far, can carry them to success: “We have a lot of players who have been with us for eight, nine, 10 years, and it means a lot to them.
“We were 4-2 down at Tyersal with a few minutes left in the quarter-final, but took the game to extra time, where we ended up winning 6-4.
“That was down to spirit and commitment, and we’ve won many games based on that. We’re like a family, we’ve been together for so long.”
The club have won five successive East Lancashire League titles, and are looking to progress on and off the pitch with ambitious plans for the future.
Neighbours Hurst Green have made the step into the West Lancashire League - promoted from the Second Division at the first attempt - and Braithwaite said: “We’re looking to get new changing rooms and build a clubhouse. We’re trying to get that sorted first, then look to play at a higher level. Hopefully we can improve our facilities and turn the clubhouse into a focal point for the village.
“If we can get that done in the next couple of years, if we’re still blessed with good players, hopefully we’ll be ready to move up then.”
Plans have been drawn up and are ready to submit for a project which could cost between £150/200,000, and if any local businesses are able to help with any donations or sponsorship, please contact Braithwaite on 01200 428190.
• Rimington stayed on course for a sixth straight East Lancashire League title with three wins over the week, beating Mill Hill 5-0, Hurst Green 3-0 and Feniscowles 4-1.