CHAMPIONS Concord head to one of their oldest foes this Tuesday night as they bid to move to within one game of retaining the Essex Senior Cup.
Ryman Premier side Hornchurch will host Vanarama South Rangers in the last four of the competition – and will be determined to end their recent dominance of the county’s top cup competition.
The ‘frenimies’ have developed many interesting connections over the years, not least the fact that Beachboys manager Danny Cowley and his brother and assistant boss Nicky both enjoyed some of their best playing days with the Urchins.
Hornchurch chairman Colin McBride managed Concord for a spell in the late 1990s and at the same time his current first-team boss at Bridge Avenue Jimmy McFarlane played for the island club.
Current Rangers players Steve King, Sam Collins, Harry Elmes and Danny Glozier have all played for Hornchurch, and Urchins duo Chris Bourne and Billy Coyne have represented Concord.
There are many more who have proudly represented both and Miki Hood, who has been part of the backroom staff at Concord for eight years, admits it always adds some extra spice to one of Essex’s best non league fixtures.
He said: “The first words out of anyone’s mouth here when we arrive for this game is ‘this is going to be tough’. It’s technically not a derby but because of the history between the clubs it feels like one.
“And this is a cup competition so form and our league statuses go out of the window.
“And it is interesting with this fixture because although there is always a lot of tenacity there is also a huge amount of mutual respect.
“It is a little bit like a rugby team rivalry where we have a ding dong of a game and then everyone is happily stood together at the bar afterwards.
“There are friendships there that go back 15 years and they will continue after this game. That said – you never want to lose to your mates!
“And there will be players with points to prove to their old sides, like Chris Bourne and Billy Coyne for them, and perhaps Sam Collins for us, who might feel he did not produce his very best for Hornchurch.
“But whoever we were playing at this stage it was going to be hugely important because retaining this cup was one of our big targets this season.
“I think the last team to retain it was Canvey about 10 years ago – so that gives us another big incentive to do it!”
Concord did not have a fixture on Saturday and Hornchurch’s game at home to Canvey was postponed because of the bad weather.
Kick-off at the The Stadium in Upminster (postcode RM14 2LX) is at 7.45pm and if the match is level after 90 minutes it will go straight to penalties.
The winners will face in the final whoever progresses from tonight’s (Feb 23) other last four tie between Aveley and Billericay, which gets underway at 7.45pm at the Mill Field.