Paulton hoping to host Canaries on their own turf

Paddy Davitt Paulton chairman David Bissex last night insisted the Southern League minnows will host Norwich on their own patch in next month's fairytale FA Cup first round tie.

Paddy Davitt

Paulton chairman David Bissex last night insisted the Southern League minnows will host Norwich on their own patch in next month's fairytale FA Cup first round tie.

Rovers' officials will meet the FA and local authorities today to decide whether the Somerset village outfit's compact Winterfield Road ground can stage the biggest game in their 128-year history.

Bissex revealed Paulton are pushing for a 4,000 capacity while ITV have already held provisional talks with his club over live coverage of the Canaries' trip to the lowest ranked team left in the world famous competition.

“We will host the game - of that I am sure,” said Bissex. “I know a few years ago Havant &Waterlooville wanted to switch a cup tie to Portsmouth's ground perhaps for the extra revenue but the FA blocked that. We don't want to move the game. We'd love to have gone to Carrow Road in front of 25,000 and that would've been fantastic but this is going to be a great day for the club and the surrounding area.

“We have meetings planned with the authorities and the FA and only after that can we start the proper planning. We could comfortably host 3,000 but I think we want to see if it's possible to maybe increase that figure. Our secretary is in the process of liasing with Norwich so we can work out what the away allocation is likely to be.”

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Bissex admitted Norwich's FA Cup visit is akin to a lottery win for the Zameretto League Division One South and West club.

“Of all the ties we could have pulled out the hat I think Norwich and Leeds were the two stand out games,” he said. “Obviously you've also got others such as Southampton and for us Bristol Rovers would have been a good draw but with all due respect to the likes of Nuneaton and those teams to land a Norwich game is beyond our wildest dreams. What a great club with so much tradition who were only recently in the Premiership. You see how many fans they took to Carlisle and Yeovil in the league and it just underlines what a great occasion it will be.

“We've already made �29,000 in prize money for getting to this stage. If the game is televised I believe that is in the region of �70,000 for each club and we have sponsors coming out of the woodwork left, right and centre since the draw was made. If we could get the green light for a 4,000 crowd then you begin to see how it adds up to a huge sum for a club at our level.”

Paulton's historic cup run to face Paul Lambert's League One promotion hopefuls has already provided a personal tonic for Rovers' long-serving chairman.

“I've just recently left hospital after treatment for a brain haemorrhage,” said Bissex. “I'm not quite 100% yet but I'm well on the road to recovery and this cup run has been a great boost. The Chippenham win at the weekend was the first game I've seen in the FA Cup since coming home. I've been on the management committee for 37 years and chairman since 1991 and everyone here right now is on cloud nine.

“The atmosphere down the club for the actual draw on Sunday was wonderful. To reach the first round for the first time ever and then get a game against Norwich was unbelievable. My ex son-in-law is from Norwich and he was straight on the phone after the draw. I've also had the best man on and they are Norwich season ticket holders so I'm expecting to be inundated for requests to watch this game.”

Bissex is promising the Canaries' support who do travel a West Country carnival.

“Paulton itself is only a small village of about 4,000 or 5,000 people so I expect the whole area is going to turn out,” he said. “Everyone behind the scenes will be working hard to make it an enjoyable day. We've a young manager in Andy Jones who is a local lad and he has so much passion for this place and that shone through when he applied to step up from managing our reserves a few seasons ago.

“The playing squad is a mixture of one or two experienced players and youngsters. We've got a player called Rob Cousins who played his 900th career game last season and is now closing in on a thousand appearances. The likes of Steve Phillips have gone onto Bristol Rovers and Ashley Barnes to Plymouth Argyle in recent seasons so we believe we're a well run club. I don't honestly expect us to go any further in the competition - but I know our boys will give their all on the day.”