Alex Pike admits he only now realises the importance of the FA Cup after years of neglect.
The Gosport Borough boss has only ever reached the third qualifying round of the most famous cup competition in the world – a scant reward for more than two decades in non-league management.
But Pike has now seen the benefits – most notably to his playing budget – with a minimum of £1,500 up for grabs for the winners as he takes his side to Moneyfields for their FA Cup preliminary round derby at Dover Road tomorrow.
Pike explained: ‘I never used to pay much attention to the FA Cup. My bread and butter was always the league because that’s what you are judged on.
‘As I’ve got older, I’ve realised how important the competition is because of the prize money on offer.
‘Clubs at our level don’t get many revenue streams. If you budget for the prize money, you’re an idiot but it’s always a nice bonus.’
Pike has had his fair share of dust-ups with Moneyfields in the past and is predicting a feisty clash, even though his opposite number Miles Rutherford is missing several experienced players.
Pike added: ‘I haven’t played them for a long time now but there was always a bit of spice between my teams and Moneyfields. Some people have long memories!
‘I will put my best side out because I know it will be a difficult game.’
Rutherford is without Sean Kerridge (suspended), Graham Gee (hernia), Russell Rackley (thigh), Luke Middleton (work), Jake Slater (holiday) and Bickram Singh (groin), while Gosport are still missing summer recruit Brett Poate (groin).
Rutherford said: ‘I’m apprehensive about it because I’m struggling to get a side out where I feel we can be competitive.
‘But I’d love to be proved wrong.
‘I’ve got a very young side – I don’t think I’ve got one player above the age of 24, apart from the keeper.
‘And it looks like we’re going into the game with a back four where none of them are over 19 years old.
‘I never expected it to be easy against Gosport but I could have done with having some senior players available.’
Moneyfields (from): Hook, Evans, Bailey, Page, Lee, Hore, Morgan, Gauntlett, Boyle, Hutchings, Brockway, Blake, N’Doye, Wain, Cameron.
Gosport (from): Hards, Pryce, Jones, Molyneaux, Cook, Birmingham, Wilde, Kirby, Ford, Way, Cotton, Wooden, Bennett, Sewell, Norton, Taylor, Elias, Chuddy.