Published: 11:07, 27 October 2020
| Updated: 21:13, 28 October 2020
Tonbridge manager Steve McKimm can’t wait to take on Football League opposition in the FA Cup.
National South Angels reached the first round for the first time in 48 years on Saturday when they beat Taunton 5-0.
And excitement hit new levels on Monday night when they drew a home tie against ex-Premier League club Bradford City.
The League 2 outfit - cup winners in 1911 - have made plenty of headlines for their exploits in recent years.
They famously came from two goals down to beat Chelsea 4-2 in a fourth-round tie at Stamford Bridge five years ago.
And it’s only seven years since they played in the League Cup final at Wembley, beating Premier League giants Arsenal and Aston Villa en route.
The Bantams, managed by Everton legend and former Scotland World Cup midfielder Stuart McCall, are due at Longmead next weekend.
And Angels boss McKimm said: “I’m delighted for the club, for the fans - even though they can’t be there - and for the players to be playing a side of Bradford’s pedigree.
“They’ve won the FA Cup, they were a Premier League side and they had that great run to the League Cup final.
“I’m just so pleased for the players to get their day in the limelight.
“Bradford have beaten Arsenal and Aston Villa as underdogs. I’m not saying we’re going to do that but anything can happen.
“That’s why the FA Cup will never lose its magic, because of draws like this.
“It’s a league side playing a non-league side, and that’s what we are.
“Forget all this elite status, we’re a non-league side who train two nights a week and play on a Saturday, and we’re going to be playing a massive club who train every day.
“Their manager has got pedigree beyond belief.
“You think of Everton, Rangers, Bradford, and to pit my wits against someone like that is a dream come true.
“It’s the first time for me as a manager and I just so feel proud to go up against him.
“Will I be intimidated? No. Will I be scared? No. I’m just very, very proud to pit my wits against someone of Stuart McCall’s calibre.”
Tonbridge reached the first round in style with Saturday’s big win over Taunton in the final qualifying round.
McKimm credited the players for bouncing back from the previous week’s league defeat at Oxford City to book Angels’ place in the first round.
“The players have got to take all the accolades,” said McKimm. “They’re the ones who've got us to this stage.
“They go out there week after week and they come in training after a long day at work.
“It takes a lot of commitment to succeed in non-league and they've got it in abundance.
“I knew I’d get a reaction from the previous result.
“They knew we hadn’t performed well at Oxford and we worked hard in training on tactics and game play because we knew what Taunton were going to be like.
“We knew they were hardworking, what system they’d be and how they would play and we needed to combat that.”
While Covid rules mean Angels fans can’t attend the Bradford match, the tie may well be under consideration for live TV coverage.
It has all the makings, with a non-league club at home to former winners.
McKimm said: “It’s a shame the fans can’t be there but from what I’ve read on social media, our fans will be painting the town blue, whenever the game is played.
“It would be great for the club financially to get on telly but great for the players more than anything.
“Cup runs aren’t in our budget but for the players it’s a chance to put themselves out there.
“It may be the first time in their career or it may be the last time.
“Every non-league side is hoping for a TV game, and we’d love it, but we’re just happy to be in the first round.
“Anything else that happens is a bonus.”