FA Cup magic for Balague as Biggleswade United face Hitchin

Biggleswade United Director of Football Guillem Balague and a young fan with the FA Cup PNL-150508-110928001
Biggleswade United Director of Football Guillem Balague and a young fan with the FA Cup PNL-150508-110928001

Forget La Liga – only one game will be at the forefront of TV pundit Guillem Balague’s mind on Saturday.

The Spanish football expert will be taking his seat as Biggleswade United’s Director of Football at Top Field as his club take on Hitchin Town in the FA Cup.

The First Qualifying Round is the furthest the club have reached in their history, and the tie has added significance for Guillem.

He’s a Hitchin resident, he marched with their fans as they successfully battled to retain their famous Top Field ground, and the two clubs have forged ties in recent years.

United hosted the Canaries in a special game for the Save Top Field Trophy with all profits given to their fighting fund.

Guillem told the Chronicle this week: “We had a friendly last season, there’s a good relationship going on between us.

“Hitchin’s victory was a victory for the people, a victory for the little guy against the multi national giants. I’ve had more than my fair share of memorable moments in football, but doing my bit to help ensure that the club kept their ground will always be one of the happiest and proudest episodes of my life.

“However the big message this weekend is they are the favourites, they are two leagues above us, they are at home.

“Our expectations are limited, but we have watched them, seen their strengths and weaknesses. It’s 11 versus 11 and anything could happen.”

Guillem’s first experience of following the FA Cup came with Premier League clubs, and this initially led him to believe the competition had lost some of its shine. But he admitted he was wrong.

He said: “It was only when I got involved in Biggleswade United that I understood the FA Cup. Last season we had the FA Cup at Second Meadow and there were queues of people coming in, people wanted to be with the cup.”

Victory in this round also comes with a prize fund of £3,000 for the winners. United have already pocketed useful cash from their victories at Newport Pagnell Town and Aylesbury United to reach this stage.

“The FA has its good things and bad things, there are a 
lot of problems, but at the same time the prize money at this level is massive,” said Guillem.

The match takes place on Non-League Day and it has been designated a ‘pay what you want’ fixture.

Guillem explained: “There was a conversation between the Hitchin secretary and our secretary Tracey. We wanted to make it special and this was the idea, with 10 per cent going to prostate cancer charity.”

The winners of the FA Cup tie will also collect the Save Top Field Trophy (ko 3pm).