Brackley Town’s James Armson on their historic FA Cup test, watching Gareth Southgate and helping the next generation


AS WELL as needing to run his own business, Brackley Town legend James Armson has extra motivation for a historic result against Tranmere in the FA Cup second round on Friday night.

The club lose their club house last summer after it was burned to the ground.

 Armson can't wait for Brackley Town's FA Cup adventure vs Tranmere
Armson can’t wait for Brackley Town’s FA Cup adventure vs Tranmere

And with the coronavirus pandemic striking earlier this year, Brackley have really felt the pinch.

Armson explained: “We lost our club house last summer in an accident. It burnt down. We missed a lot of revenue from bar sales and fans drinking there.

“And on top of the pandemic, like any non-league club or organisation, we have felt the pinch. We are fortunate in a way that we have been able to keep the club together.

“So, for us to still be in this position, and a chance to make history, we as a club should feel proud.”

Before 2013, sixth tier Brackley Town had never made it into the second round of the FA Cup – but in the last seven years they have reached it three times.

On the last two occasions, Armson has led the way, most notably in 2016 when – having just joined the club – he scored a hat-trick in a 4-3 replay victory against Gillingham to write his name in the history books.

And once again four years on, after beating Bishops Stortford in the first round 3-2 on penalties following a dramatic 3-3 draw, the third round awaits.

Midfielder Armson – who has played in every position on the pitch during his career – said: “If any non-league club can have just one FA Cup story that the players can tell their kids, that’s pretty amazing, but for Brackley, we are very lucky to have three.

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 Brackley will face Tranmere after storming into the FA Cup second round
Brackley will face Tranmere after storming into the FA Cup second round

“When you’re younger you dream of playing in an FA Cup final. I am nowhere good enough for that, so for me my final is the third round.

“I remember as a teenager watching my local club Nuneaton play in the third round against Middlesbrough in 2006, when Steve McClaren was manager and Gareth Southgate was in defence.

“For the whole town it was amazing. It would be nice to achieve that for Brackley.”

A maiden-third round spot for Brackley would also provide the funds to help support one of the lucky ones in non-league.

Armson, 30, explained: “I know lots of other clubs like us having to offload players. We are lucky in the sense we have kept our group together and been able to use the government grants.

“But we as players aren’t putting pressure on ourselves in that sense. Our job is about what happens on the pitch. People in different roles of the club can worry about the money side.

“We need to do this for ourselves and the fans. It has been hard for them. Brackley isn’t a massive place, and you get to know the faces of the ones that support us. We will perform for them.”

On top of FA Cup heroics, Armson has been running his company ‘Positive Impact’ – a group providing alternative education for kids no longer in the mainstream school system, as well as counselling sessions.

Armson – who has a wife and two young kids – said: “It’s been tough. I didn’t go to university and I haven’t got a business degree.

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“You do lose sleep, lie awake at night and things pop in your head, but not about football.

“There is a difference between Jimmy Armson the footballer and James Armson the businessman, they are two different sides to me.

“People have been asking me if I am nervous. I haven’t even thought about it. With the pandemic I am busy updating risk assessments and health and safety procedures.

“I’ve also got a family to support and give attention to. I enjoy playing football, it is a hobby. And right now, it is a relief.”

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