THOMAS Baillie has issued a rallying call to the whole of Stratford to get behind Stratford Town in today’s FA Trophy clash.
With opponents South Shields set to bring between 4-600 to the Arden Garages Stadium for the third qualifying round, Town’s fans could be outnumbered on home turf.
But Town boss Baillie says the fixture will offer the perfect chance for townsfolk to share in the ‘feel-good factor’ built up over the last few months.
Under head of football Baillie, who joined in September, and his staff Stratford have lost just once in 16 matches in 90 minutes. Today’s third qualifying round offers the winners their first-ever appearance in the first round proper when the National League join the competition.
“By all accounts they could have between 400-600 travelling down. They are bringing five or six coaches and they’ve booked one of the hotels in town for lunch,” said Baillie.
“We’re going to be outnumbered but hopefully it’s the chance for people in Stratford to come down and see what we’re doing. There’s a real feel-good factor at the club. We want more people to be part of it.
“I know from my own experience at Kettering how important the fans are. We had a home average of 809 in my time there. There’s nothing better for the players, for the staff, when the ground is packed. It’s exciting. It brings the best out of the players.”
“It’s a big game and a good crowd will help make it a great atmosphere.”
South Shields, who won their titles in a row in climbing through the leagues, lie seventh in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier and have won six games in a row in all competitions.
But Baillie says Town will not be fazed by the challenge.
“They are a good side, everybody can see that,” he added. “But we’ve lost one in 16 games so we’re in good form too.
“Both sides like to play football. It’s all built up to be a really good tie.”
Town have to rule out the ineligible Taylor Morrison while Chris Cox faces a fitness check. Wilson Carvalho, rested in the midweek Birmingham Senior Cup tie with Aston Villa, and Will Grocott, an unused sub, will be back in contention.
Admission is £10 for adults, £6 for over-65s and full-time students, £2 for under-18s with under-12s admitted free.