IT IS time for Tunbridge Wells to grasp the opportunity to put their football club on the map, according to boss Martin Larkin.
Some 508 fans flocked to the Culverden on Saturday to witness Wells knockout FA Vase holders Dunston UTS, 1-0. It leaves them three wins from Wembley, but with a potential home quarter-final to look forward to – if they overcome Larkhall Athletic tomorrow – excitement is building.
"This is something for the whole town to be proud of," Larkin said. "We had people handing out balloons and leaflets in the town before the game, I think that made a difference to the crowd. But this is something the whole town can be excited about. This is a proper cup run.
"This is a proper competition. We are overshadowed by Tonbridge Angels somewhat, but a Vase run to Wembley would be great for this club. The crowd was officially 508, but there must have been 650 in there. That shows the potential here. If we get through Larkhall we've got a home quarter-final draw. I'm thinking we can get four figures through the gate."
Andy Irvine struck the winner at the weekend as Wells scraped past Dunston.
And Larkin believes the noise from the crowd made a huge difference, spurring his side on.
"The atmosphere was really, really good," he said. "They do make a lot of noise and the noise when the goal went in was incredible."
Larkin was also quick to pay tribute to how Dunston took the defeat.
"They were exceptional," he said. "I'll admit I'm a bad loser. But they went away and had a huddle before coming over. They were very gracious.
"They stayed in the bar afterwards for an hour or so and told us to go and win it. They were very, very good and certainly changed my outlook on losing."
Now it is a trip to Bath and Larkhall Athletic, tomorrow afternoon. They lie eighth in the Western Football League Premier Division and knocked out Sussex side Peacehaven in the last round.
"Jason (Bourne) thinks it's a good thing to play them straight away – he thinks it will keep the momentum going," Larkin said. "Maybe I would have liked a couple of weeks' break. I don't know that much about them.
"I'll just be asking my players that after beating someone of that magnitude, they turn up and create the same intensity."