BLACK HORSE are dreaming of making history in the biggest Sunday football competition in the country – just months after the club faced the prospect of folding.
The powerhouse of Redditch football, which has won 17 titles and 11 Worcestershire Premier cups since being formed in 1961, was on the brink last season.
Depleted on and off the pitch, they finished bottom of the Bromsgrove & District League, losing 12 of their 14 league matches.
Fast forward nine months and Black Horse this weekend bid to become the first Redditch team to reach the semi-finals of the FA National Sunday Cup.
They welcome Aylesbury Flooring to Studley Entaco for a quarter-final tie on Sunday (2pm) as they look to continue a five-pronged challenge for success.
Player-manager Ricardo Richards says they fancy their chances against any side and, with the final to be played on a professional ground – Selhurst Park, Ewood Park and Bramall Lane have been the hosts in the last few years – the incentive is huge.
“It’s been a massive achievement to get to get to the quarter-finals but hopefully we can go all the way,” said Richards.
“It’s the biggest Sunday cup in the country so all the best teams play in it, but we fancy our chances. If my team plays as I know they can, we can beat anybody.
“We’ve got talented players and we’ve got a bit of bite in there as well.”
And a sense of unfinished business.
Highgate Dynamoes, with Richards in charge and with the bulk of the players now at Black Horse including No 2 Dave Edwards plus the likes of JJ Cole, Daniel Morris and Jack Wilson, reached the last eight season, only to bow out to former winners New Salamis after having a player sent off.
“A lot of the teams in the competition pay players but we’re a group of mates who have played together for a few years,” said Richards.
“I brought the team to Black Horse in the summer after Black Horse had been struggling. They didn’t have a manager, they were struggling for players, they were forfeiting games and they were close to folding.
“We’ve brought back a bit of success but it’s still only February and we want to be playing for the trophies come May.”
Well placed in the league with eight wins from eight fixtures, Black Horse have already booked their place in the semi-finals of Birmingham FA’s premier Sunday cup – the Roger Wood Memorial Cup – as well as the league’s WA Harris Cup, while they are still competing for the BRS Shield.
They warmed up for Sunday’s cup tie against Aylesbury by crushing hosts Chaddesley Corbett Ravens 7-0 in the BRS Shield group stages, with Richards scoring four, Rees James adding two and Anthony Miller completing the scoring.
Aylesbury progressed to this stage after winning on another trip to the Midlands, defeating Wolverhampton League side AFC Jacks in extra-time.
Black Horse have swept aside RHP Sports & Social and Attenborough Cavaliers in the early rounds but they came through a penalty shoot-out in the last 16 clash with two-time winners St Joseph’s Luton, winning 4-3.
Richards admits there will be nerves on Saturday as he awaits fitness updates from the raft of players who play Saturday football, including Studley players Sean Brain, Dave and Dale Edwards and Miller, Cadbury Athletic’s Anthony Fitzmaurice and Odane Barnes and Coleshill’s Cole.
“I’m hoping to have everybody available but I’ve just got my fingers crossed everybody is still fit come 5pm on Saturday,” he added.
“Hopefully we have a good crowd too because that support does make a difference.”