Noisy neighbours still playing second fiddle to Sir Alex’s men, Blue Square Bet survey finds

Manchester City might be top of the Premier League and the reigning FA Cup holders, but they haven’t stopped rivals Manchester United being named the dream FA Cup opponents for Non League teams, according to 29% of fans in a Blue Square Bet survey.

The bookmaker, which sponsors the Blue Square Bet Premier, North and South, the three divisions immediately below League football, surveyed just over 2,000 Non League fans ahead of the FA Cup First Round and found most supporters want their team to emulate Crawley Town’s exploits from last season. The then Blue Square Bet Premier outfit became the first Non League side to reach the Fifth Round since Kidderminster Harriers in the 1993/94 season and were rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Old Trafford.

The opening phase of the competition proper takes place this weekend, with 32 Non League sides still in the competition hoping to land a dream tie when the big boys enter in the later rounds.

Roberto Mancini’s outfit claimed 21% of the vote in the poll and the wealthiest side in the land were the clear second choice for Non League supporters.

This season’s top flight surprise package Newcastle United came home third after picking up 12%  – pipping Arsenal (11%) and Liverpool (10%), ten and seven-time winners respectively. Tottenham Hotspur, the only Non League team to ever win the trophy, could only grab 8% of the vote.

Blue Square Bet’s eight-team shortlist was completed by Chelsea and Everton, but just 6% of Non League fans felt the Blues would provide a fairytale fixture, while the Toffees trailed last with only 3%.

Blue Square Bet spokesman Alan Alger said: “All those associated with the clubs to have made it this far will be concentrating on this weekend’s ties, but the FA Cup First Round is the time Non League sides can start to dream. Despite the rise of Manchester City, it’s United who are still the plum draw for Non League fans and as Crawley Town showed last season, sometimes those fantasies come true.”

Blue Square Bet also spoke to managers of teams who have made the First Round:

Cambridge United kick-off the round on Friday night against Wrexham and U’s boss Jez George would love to land Liverpool away. “Kenny Dalglish was my hero as a kid,” he said.

However, Micky Mellon agrees with the fans and would love to take his Fleetwood Town side to Old Trafford. The manager of the favourites to win the Blue Square Bet Premier, who host League One’s Wycombe Wanderers, said:   “Who wouldn’t want to try and beat United in the best sporting arena in the country?”

Joint Barrow managers Dave Bayliss and Darren Sheridan have differing views. “I’d love to go to Anfield to play against Liverpool, but Darren is a Man United fan, so I’m sure he’d want us to end up at Old Trafford. Come to think of it we would get a bit more money from that one so it wouldn’t be too bad,” said Bayliss. Barrow have a home tie against League Two outfit Rotherham United.


Dream Opponent in 2011 FA Cup Survey (odds of winning FA Cup with Blue Square Bet in brackets)

Manchester United        29%        (6/1)

Manchester City               21%        (6/1)

Newcastle Utd                  12%        (50/1)

Arsenal                                 11%        (9/1)

Liverpool                             10%        (9/1)

Tottenham Hotspur        8%          (12/1)

Chelsea                                6%          (6/1)

Everton                                3%          (16/1)


Furthest Progressing Non League Team in the FA Cup 2011/12

Gateshead                                          7/1

Tamworth                                           9/1

AFC Telford United                         10/1

Southport                                           10/1

Wrexham                                            11/1

Luton Town                                        12/1

Kettering Town                                 12/1

Cambridge United                           14/1

Fleetwood Town                              14/1

Salisbury City                                     14/1

Barrow                                                 16/1

Sutton United                                   16/1

Chelmsford City                                20/1

Newport County                              33/1

Hinckley United                                33/1

Grimsby Town                                   40/1

Alfreton Town                                   40/1

Bath City                                              50/1

Blyth Spartans                                   50/1

Halifax Town                                      80/1

Maidenhead United                       80/1

Corby Town                                        100/1

Bromley                                               125/1

Basingstoke Town                           150/1

Non Blue Square Team                  12/1



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