Player-boss issues rallying cry ahead of 'biggest game in club history'

Ricky Hailstone in action for Whittlesey Athletic

Ricky Hailstone (right) is calling on the town of Whittlesey to get behind the team in what he believes is the biggest game in the club's history vs Worcester City. - Credit: Daniel Mason

Whittlesey Athletic player-boss Ricky Hailstone is calling on the town to cheer them on in what is the biggest game in the club’s history this weekend. 

Hailstone is anticipating a tough battle in their FA Vase second round proper tie against Worcester City, who have played as high as the Conference North in recent seasons. 

Athletic have never reached this stage of the Vase before, but it is an occasion they are excited for. 

“I don’t think we could have got a much tougher draw,” Hailstone said. 

“It’s nice to have a big non-league club coming here and it will be good for Whittlesey. 

“As far as we’re concerned, it’s about what we do and not so much what they’re bringing into the game.” 

Whittlesey, whose last win in the competition was at home to Midland League Premier Division outfit Wolverhampton Casuals, come into this cup tie after two games without a victory. 

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Meanwhile, Worcester, who sit third in the same league as Casuals, have won their last six games in all competitions. 

“I think Worcester will bring more experience and a group of players that have been playing together and probably at a higher level,” he said. 

“I don’t anticipate us having more possession or more chances, but what I do anticipate is if we get a chance, we will take it.   

“But if you give them time and space, I think they’ll play and pass it around you.  

“That’s probably what I fear the most if we give them too much respect.” 

Top marksman James Hill-Seekings is expected to feature for Whittlesey, who are at full strength ahead of the Worcester tie at Feldale Field this Saturday, 3pm kick-off. 

The club is expecting a large away following for the game, to support a team that has also reached the FA Cup second round before. 

Despite a strong away support, Hailstone is hoping Whittlesey can be backed similarly on what will be a famous day for the club. 

“It is the club’s biggest game in their history; they’ve never been this far in the competition before or this high in league position as well,” Hailstone added. 

“I don’t want Worcester to think it’s a ‘nothing’ club; we’ve made massive strides in the last three years.   

“We want people there week in, week out, not just once a year, and we urge people in Whittlesey to come down.”  

*March Town won their first Eastern Counties (ECL) Premier Division away game since appointing Ashley Taylor as permanent boss, 3-1 at Walsham-le-Willows, on Saturday.

In ECL First Division North, Whittlesey Athletic were beaten 3-1 at Diss Town while 10-man FC Parson Drove lost 2-0 at home to UEA. 

On November 20, March visit Whitton United, Drove host Downham Town and Wisbech St Mary face Great Yarmouth Town.