Later today the draw for the FA Cup last-16 will take place. Of 16, non-league sides Sutton United and Lincoln will feature among giants such as Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.
Sutton United saw off a team that sat 87 places above them on the English football league ladder. Their ground, which holds 5,000, reached its capacity for the first time since 2013 and for their behemoth of a victory the club will see a tidy £90,000 reward come in.
For most English football teams, £90,000 profit is a daily income. For a team such as Sutton however, it is the difference between administration and survival.
Their fellow non-league survivors in the cup still are Lincoln Town, who saw off Championship leaders Brighton. In true non-league spirit, the Imps came from behind to win 3-1.
FA Cup legend Michael Owen said last week that the magic of the FA Cup was “a thing of the past” and that it is only an “opportunity for lower league teams to get some exposure”.
The remark was met with great backlash from Sutton United’s chairman Bruce Elliot, who told Owen in a passionate rant that “if he saw the struggle of non-league teams, playing on poorer than poor pitches and turning over profits in the hundreds monthly” then the man, who is sitting comfortably on a TV job, sees wages in the hundreds of thousands and resides in a cosy cottage in Surrey would think twice before disregarding the competition that made him a nation’s darling.
It is the first time since 1888 that the last 16 of the FA Cup will feature two non-league sides. And the prospect of either of Lincoln or Sutton drawing one of the big dogs is scintillating stuff.