Unknown Yeading get moment of fame in Magpie match-up


LONDON: A team managed by Johnson “Drax” Hippolyte with a star striker known as DJ Campbell playing at a ground used in the movie Bend It Like Beckham – welcome to Yeading FC. 

The Ryman Premier Division leaders nicknamed “The Ding” have been given a plum home FA Cup third round tie against Premier League Newcastle United. 

Newcastle have won the FA Cup six times and been runners-up on seven occasions, while Middlesex-based Yeading have reached the third round for the first time in their history. 

British actresses Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightly in a scene from the movie Bend it like Beckham. Yeading FC, where the movie was made, are finally finding fame in the real world of football as they prepare to meet Newcastle in the FA Cup.

Yeading FC, formed 10 years after Newcastle last won the famous old trophy by beating Manchester City 3-1 at Wembley, have lifted the FA Vase and the Bryco Cup. 

But the club, based on the outskirts of London not far from Wembley, is more famous for its Warren ground, which has been used in the movies The Mean Machine and Bend It Like Beckham

“I don't even know where Yeading is,” Newcastle boss Graeme Souness told The Evening Chronicle newspaper after the draw. 

“And while I have contacts in football throughout the world I must admit I have nothing on them.” 

Whether Yeading can hold the match at their 3,500 capacity home ground depends on safety considerations and the FA were deciding where it could be played. 

Yeading's west London neighbours Brentford and Queens Park Rangers are the two most likely alternative venues. 

But wherever the game is staged, this is Yeading's moment in the sun and they are determined to make the most of it. 

“It's magnificent, just what every player wants,” was the reaction of 23-year-old Campbell, whose two goals against Slough Town earned his side a dream date with the Magpies. 

“To play against a team like that, I don't think we could have asked for any more,” the former Aston Villa trainee told the FA's website. 

“Realistically, we haven't got a chance because of the influence of their big players. But as a player you just want to be a part of games like this. 

“And the money side of things will also be a bonus. After the game on Saturday we were all just hoping for a big club and it should be a great day.” 

Hippolyte is also looking forward to the tie, though he is disappointed it won't be played at Newcastle's St James' Park. 

“Maybe I'm being a bit greedy but the fact the tie is at home has taken the gloss off it a little bit for me,” he said. 

“Of course, it will be great to play against Newcastle and if they play their strongest team, they will beat us 99 times out of 100. 

“But you never know what can happen in football and we'll just have to hope we can get some television money in to provide us with a bit of a payday.” 

The third round tie will almost certainly be shown live on BBC television. 

Souness is aware of the importance of the occasion to a semi-professional team that play their football two levels below the top non-league Conference division. 

“It's a famous draw for them getting Newcastle United at home, but while it's obviously a potential banana skin we don't want to make them even more famous,” he said, no doubt familiar with his team's defeat to giant-killers Hereford in 1972. 

“Everybody knows that you can play games like this on the wrong day and suffer but we have good players ... (who) should be able to adapt to playing under any conditions and I am confident we will be able to deal with this tie.” 

Conference side Exeter City's director of football Steve Perryman, who won the FA Cup as captain of Tottenham Hotspur and is also a life vice-president of Yeading, is looking forward to his side's third round tie at Manchester United. 

However, he can't match his brother's claim to fame. 

Yeading's commercial director Bill Perryman appeared in Bend It Like Beckham, which tells the story of a teenage Indian girl who wants to pursue her dream of becoming a “soccer sensation”. 

If Yeading beat Newcastle that would be an understatement. – Reuters 

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