Friday, 3 January 2014

Cherry Chimes talks With the Brewers

Match Preview
Blogger Interview - With the Brewers
AFCB v Burton Albion FA Cup third round
4 January 2014

Cherry Chimes has tracked down a Burton Albion supporter ahead of the third round FA Cup tie this Saturday. Colston Crawford has had his own brewers blog at With the Brewers, but has stopped recently as he no longer reports daily on the club, having written on them for some 10 years. However, he still files reports regularly for the Derby Telegraph that features the team.

CC: I understand that if Burton Albion win this third round game it will be only the second time in the club's history that it has reached the fourth round. Do you think the town will go crazy if the Brewers win?

WTB: To be honest, I don’t think too many Burton supporters will expect the town to go crazy if we should reach the fourth round. The club has its hardcore fan-base but, although this is the fifth season for us in the Football League now, Burton itself is still a relatively small town to have a club at this level – in terms of population, the town is 84th out of the 92 clubs in the top four divisions.

It takes a long while to build a fan base and this is a club that was attracting 600 in the Northern Premier League within the last 20 years and which dates back to only 1950 altogether. With Birmingham one side and Stoke and Derby close, there is a lot of competition for football allegiance.

CC: What did you think when AFC Bournemouth were drawn and then Burton Albion followed? Winnable tie, disappointment or a pleasing away trip to the seaside?

WTB: I would not want this to sound disrespectful to Bournemouth but there was a little disappointment in the draw simply because we were down to four balls in the bag and the other possibles were a game against our neighbours, Derby, or Chelsea. So, we didn’t get Chelsea or Derby and we didn’t get a home draw either. We have to think of it as a possibly winnable tie… having knocked Leicester and Sheffield United out of the Capital One Cup and Middlesbrough out of the FA Cup in recent seasons and taken Cardiff and Fulham to extra time in the Capital One, we have a half-decent record of raising our game against sides from higher up.

CC: A few seasons ago in April 2010 AFC Bournemouth came to Burton Albion in the league needing a win to get promotion to League One - Do you remember much of your team from then?

WTB: I remember who was in the team then, as it was our first season in the Football League. Only one player remains on the books from that day, our winger Jimmy Phillips, after the previous longest-serving player, Aaron Webster, was released after 16 years at Burton at the end of last season.

We remember the day well because your fans behaved superbly and had a promotion party on our pitch. We thought Bournemouth were a good club and deserved their promotion.

CC: Who are the stars of the Burton Albion team today and who do you need to keep hold of in the January sales?

WTB: Billy Kee is the fans’ favourite striker and seems very settled in the area. He is from Leicester and was homesick when he played for Torquay so we think there is a good chance he will stay. He is not scoring so many goals that others are likely to feel they have to try to tempt him away. Adam McGurk, who also plays up front, stepped down from Tranmere and is ambitious to play further up the ladder again. He has scored some classy goals and may attract interest in the window. Most of our other standout players at the moment, the defenders especially, are older, seasoned pros and less likely to move on. We have a 19-year-old midfielder, Matty Palmer, who has broken into the first team regularly this season who may also attract some attention in the January window.

CC: What can you tell us about your manager Gary Rowlett and how he likes the team to play?

WTB: Gary is very popular with supporters generally; many were unsure about Paul Peschisolido’s assistant being given the job full time when Peschisolido left but they had not arrived as a pair. Both applied for the job when Nigel Clough moved on to Derby and when Peschisolido got it, Gary was asked to be his assistant.

He sets great store by the team ethic and a work ethic, likes the team to press the opposition relentlessly and play at a high tempo. It’s not always pretty but it’s tending to get results. It’s a more sophisticated philosophy than “route one”. Gary is also big on preparation and will play different ways against different opponents. You can expect us to try to contain you and hit you on the break in this tie.

CC: If the tie goes to a replay will the ground look any different than it did back in 2010?

WTB: No, the ground will look almost exactly the same. You would still get one terraced end and the option of seats towards the away end in the only seated stand.

CC: You are doing well in League One this season. Would promotion really put Burton Albion on the football map and could the club invest if it goes up?

WTB: We would not regard promotion as putting us “on the map” any more than doing well in League Two is doing, really. Four years in, we are still enjoying getting used to the idea of being an established Football League side. We know that we are still regarded as newcomers and “little Burton Albion” by fans who follow what they think are “big” clubs, like Northampton and Oxford but we don’t care about that.

We think we have the best chairman in the lower divisions in Ben Robinson, who has never gambled on spending anything we do not have. Progress has always been affordable and achieved gradually and we’re proud of that. We are in profit most years. Ben argues that getting promoted does not actually cost too much more as the club itself runs in the same way and the slightly bigger wage bill is covered by the fact that the share of the sponsorship pot is bigger the further up you go. When we went up from the Conference to League Two, the accounts proved this; the increase in wages was almost exactly the extra amount of sponsorship cash we received.

CC: Thank you for letting us have a look at Burton Albion Colston. AFCB may seem like a big club to Burton fans but we are more used to being seen as the small club so we don't take any game lightly having ourselves been League Two only four years ago. Burton have already beaten Fleetwood in the last round and you have a good cup pedigree, so I hope our team are wary of your strengths as this could indeed be an upset with AFCB's priorities lying in the Championship. Still Eddie Howe has said he will rotate the squad so it will be an interesting fixture for our fans to see what team we put out.

Breaking News: Vitals website reports that Wes Thomas can leave to join Swindon Town as AFCB has agreed a price for the striker. It is probable that Wes will play no part in the FA Cup tie tomorrow.

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