Blues boss: Not being liked comes with the territory

First published in Sport Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports editor

No-one may like Met Police, but boss Jimmy Cooper will care less if they reach the FA Cup first round proper this weekend.
 

The Blues are among the worst supported clubs in the Ryman Premier League with home support regularly outnumbered by travelling fans.
 

Cooper’s men travel to Combined Counties League Premier Division side South Park in the fourth qualifying round on Saturday, with £12,500 in prize money and a potential tie with League One giants Sheffield United at stake.
 

The Imber Court manager, a detective sergeant with the Met, knows a win will probably do little to win the hearts and minds of local football followers, but, having never featured in the first round as a player or manager before, he will not be too bothered.
 

“It is hard for us because we are not associated with a particular area or town, so people really don't know where we are,” said Cooper.
 

“We are realistic enough to know we are not going to get that many people coming down to cheer on a team representing the Metropolitan Police.
 

“If we get a home draw it is given that the travelling support is likely outnumber our fans, but we are used to that.
 

“We know what a fantastic opportunity we have got to get to the first round and it would be great for a club like ours to get there.
 

“We couldn’t have hoped for a better draw really. This is a cup final for both teams and we will not take them lightly.”
 

The Blues’ home gates have been swelled a little in recent weeks thanks to the form of 19-year-old on-loan Crawley Town striker Jonte Smith, who has scored 13 goals in 10 appearances.
 

And Cooper is aware retaining his services beyond the end of this month may hinge on his side winning this weekend.
 

“We’ve got him until the end of October at least, but if we get to the first round I’m sure Crawley will want him to play, so with any luck he’ll stay a bit longer,” he added.
 

“We’ve had quite a few Blue Square South scouts taking a look at him recently. If he can score that number of goals at this level, teams higher up will want him.
 

“What will be, will be.  It is something we’ll have to discuss with Crawley.”
 

Cooper will have a full strength squad – including two policemen – to choose from after watching his men come  through a 2-2 draw with East Thurrock United on Saturday unscathed.
 

Late goals from Smith and Staff Palmer saw them come from 2-0 down to level.
 

“I think the boys already had their heads on the FA Cup match and we started slowly,” said Cooper.
 

“Some might not be playing this weekend because of that.
 

“I’ve been saying all season the league is the important thing, so credit to them for pulling it back.”

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