It’s been a good year for Farnborough midfielder Nic Ciardini, with the boyhood Leicester City fan able to celebrate the Foxes’ unlikely Premier League title win.
Now, with Claudio Ranieri’s side ready to do battle with Europe’s elite in the Champions League, Ciardini is hoping to make some lifelong memories of his own with Farnborough in the FA Cup.
The Yellows saw off Hellenic League club Longlevens AFC in the Preliminary Round with a 5-1 win their Cherrywood Road ground and that set up a First Qualifying Round tie against Andover Town.
Ciardini and his Farnborough team mates make the trip to the Wessex Premier League club on Saturday as they look to continue their FA Cup journey.
And the midfielder is dreaming of a run to the First Round, although he did concede that bookmakers would offer slightly smaller odds on that happening than they did for Leicester City’s Premier League title win.
He joked “I’m not sure a cup run with Farnborough would be as long odds as Leicester winning the Premier League.
“I think the bookies have had their hands burnt already with Leicester so I can’t see us getting to the First Round being 5000/1!.
“We have to be lucky, we have to avoid certain teams that on paper would give us a good game.
“We would have to avoid them for as long as we can but you never know where it goes.
“It is luck on the day, anything can happen”
If the club were to reach the First Round they would offer their midfielder a chance to right a wrong in his career
Ciardini was with Havant and Waterlooville two seasons ago when the club made it to the First Round.
Their reward was a televised tie against Preston North End as they knocked out of the competition by the Lancashire club in a televised First Round tie shown on BT Sport.
And the midfielder admitted that he is hoping to put a run together to benefit both himself and his club too.
“It means everything to me but it means more to the club.
“I have been in a situation where my club had a televised FA Cup ties but I have been unfortunate and been suspended for both.
“I have always wanted to get on TV once and to have my family and friends to watch, so you can look back in the future.
“It can be good for the club financially, the crowds go up, the prize money goes up, we want this cup run to happen because the club needs it”
Farnborough head into the tie with Andover Town as strong favourites to progress.
Their opponents lie in eighteenth position in the Wessex Premier League table after winning just one of their six league fixtures this campaign.
However, Ciardini urged his team mates to be focused ahead of a game that he expects to be a “tough battle”.
“Any away game is tough and they will dig in against us.
“They will see how well we are doing in the league and they will know what we are about.
“We are expecting a tough battle and it will be hard. I would back us against anyone at the moment because we are in good form but we will need to be on focused because it won’t be easy”
That view of the tie against Andover it one shared by Farnborough manager Spencer Day.
The former Chertsey Town boss is looking forward to the tie and accepted that his side will go in as favourites, but is determined to avoid being on the end of an FA Cup shock.
He said “We have had some mixed performances this season and we accept that we will probably be favourites in most of our games this season.
“We were relegated for financial reasons and not footballing reasons. It gives different problems, nice problems at that and we are learning lessons in every game.
“We will respect Andover Town, you always respect your opposition because there are no easy games.
“We are a target, teams will raise their games but we respect that and we will work hard to get the result we want.
“If we do that, and it’s a big if, we know we have the quality to hurt opposition by playing our game.
“The FA Cup always has shocks and we need to focus hard to ensure we aren’t on the end of one of them”
If Farnborough do avoid a shock against Andover they will go some way to helping Day acheive one of his main goals this season.
The club have been through turmoil in the past few years, including a double relegation.
Now, Day is targeting a “stable, enjoyable season”, but did concede that he is dreaming of a good FA Cup run.
“The priority is not to go straight back up.
“We don’t have much money so we want a stable, enjoyable season. Farnborough has had too much drama recently and we want to put smiles back on faces.
“If that means promotion then great but we are being sensible and we are building.
“With the FA Cup there is an excitement, a dream and in my own case a fantasy of a cup run.
“We have had horrific draws recently, often away from home against big clubs.
“To win one game, against Longlevens is an improvement. The funds are essential to our club and we will be dreaming of being that one non-league club that gets a dream tie in the proper rounds.
“I will say this, nobody will want to play us. We are looking forward to it, we love the FA Cup but we won’t take our eyes of it against Andover because that dream will end”
Interview: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)
Images: Don Blandford