Gosport Borough have boosted their ground capacity as they attempt to break a 61-year-old attendance record this weekend.
The Privett Park outfit have forked out more than £16,000 to add 1,760-worth of temporary seats and terracing for Sunday’s mouthwatering FA Cup first-round clash with League One side Colchester United.
That will take the capacity to just over 5,000 and anything close to a full house would eclipse the 4,770 people who were there for the famous FA Amateur Cup tie with Pegasus way back in 1953.
And while Borough have increased their ticket prices for the game, boss Alex Pike insists it was unavoidable.
He said: ‘It’s a one-off occasion. It’s the first time in 70 years this club has been in this position.
‘We are very mindful we want supporters to be able to enjoy it, to be comfortable and to have an unobstructed view of the game.
‘To get the people into the ground that we expect will be coming, we had no choice but to do it.
‘There is now some seating at both ends and some extra terracing has gone in.
‘The ground now looks like a proper football stadium but there was a lot of expense involved.
‘And that’s the only reason we have put the prices up.
‘It is costing us £7.40 plus VAT for each extra seat and the terracing.
‘Our prices are normally £13 per head so we are not even covering that extra cost by putting an extra £6 on the ticket.’
Tickets are priced at £19 for adults, £14 for over-60s and £8 for under-18s and are now on general sale from the club house at Privett Park or from ELJ Furnishings on Gosport’s High Street.
Around 3,000 turned up for the FA Trophy semi-final derby with Hawks last season but Pike admits he would love to beat another club record.
He said: ‘If we get close to 5,000, we will be extremely happy with that.
‘That’s one of the few club records that I have left to beat.
‘It’s hard to beat it because of ground regulations these days.
‘Back in the day, Gosport had the one stand but it seemed like you could cram as many people in as you liked as long as they were wearing a flat cap.
‘But I’ve experienced the FA Trophy and the FA Vase. This is something very different.
‘That’s the beauty of the FA Cup. It captures the imagination like no other competition.’
Borough are certainly trying to make the most of their chance and have also agreed a shirt sponsorship deal with 666Bet.com for around £5,000.
And Pike admits it’s a modern necessity to make the most of the financial boost.
He said: ‘It is quite sad that so much talk is all about the commercial activity, rather than whether there will be a famous FA Cup giant-killing.
‘But clubs like ours have got to make the most of it.
‘If we do it right, it can help secure the club’s future for the next two or three years.’
n Tickets for the Hawks’ FA Cup first-round clash with Preston North End go on sale at midday.
The Lilywhites arrive at Westleigh Park on Monday night (8pm).
Tickets are on sale at The Westleigh from midday until 11pm each day and are priced at £12 or £8 for concessions.