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Meet the models, plumbers, students and painters of Shortwood United FC

By The Citizen  |  Posted: October 31, 2013

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IT'S a day they never dared dream of but for the family which has backed a tiny village football club for generations, it's a reality.

Shortwood United are through to the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in 113 years.

The hamlet in Nailsworth has lost its pub and church, never had a shop, and is not the easiest place to find, up narrow stone-walled lanes.

But the part-timers who by day are plumbers, painters and decorators, students and even part-time models have put Shortwood on the map by dispatching Aldershot in the final qualifying round of the most famous knockout cup competition in the world.

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And a tie with League One Port Vale awaits in the first round.

"It's boyhood dreams," said Pete Webb, 68, who has been club chairman since he retired from playing at 32. "It's the kind of thing you'd like to happen but you don't expect it."

After holding Skrill Premier club Aldershot to a 1-1 draw at Meadowbank on Saturday, they triumphed 2-1 at the Hampshire club on Tuesday night. Some 93 Shortwood fans witnessed history being made.

Pete's dad Howard Webb was a kingpin of the club, along with Stan Grant, whose son Roger sponsors the team through GK Joinery.

"It is very much a family club with mainly the Grants and the Webbs, but the Matthews and Porter families have played an important part too," said Roger, who first played for the club from 17. To say the club is a homespun family affair is an understatement – when Aldershot visited on Saturday their officials complimented the club on the quality of the Victoria sponge served up.

It's a team with painter and decorator Tom King in goal, plumber Tim Haddock, and Hartpury College students including Duncan Culley and Jake Parrott. A handful of the players have done a spot of modelling, and Duncan once auditioned to wrangle a giant pet rabbit for a former Playboy model.

But before anyone gets carried away with the cliched "romance" of the FA Cup "minnows", it should be remembered that retired Archway School PE teacher John Evans, and former Forest Green Rovers player turned Rednock School PE master Alex Sykes manage the team. They've guided the part-timers of the eighth tier club to victory over fifth tier opposition and have third-tier Port Vale in their sights, and another FA Cup payday – so far the cup run has netted around £30,000 but the club and the town of Nailsworth is just enjoying the wave of success for now.

"It means everything," said Roger's son John Grant. "There were 93 of us there last night and I think we out sang them. We're all hoarse this morning. We are just a small team, it means so much."

■ For more reaction, see pages 44, 45 and 48.

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