WHEN Burton Albion were drawn against Bournemouth in the third round of the FA Cup, it’s fair to say the club’s supporters were a little underwhelmed - but the game has suddenly become one of the most eagerly anticipated in years after it was revealed the winners would play Premier League giants Liverpool.
After what began as a miserable weekend for Albion fans when the match with the Cherries was called off hours before kick-off, they were reminded of the brighter side of the beautiful game.
Not only do they face the prospect of hosting one of the game’s most illustrious names, those who began the journey to the South Coast have had the return trip paid for by generous Bournemouth fans in what will go down as one of the season’s most heart-warming stories.
Football in the 21st century brings with it its fair share of negative headlines, so it came as a pleasant surprise to officials at Burton Albion when they learned a staggering £3,000 had been raised.
While the two sides will be tussling over a dream date with Liverpool in a week’s time, it is sure to be a good-natured tie after what Albion chairman Ben Robinson called a ‘marvellous gesture’.
The friendship between the clubs dates back to 2010 when Cherries fans were allowed to celebrate with their team on the Pirelli Stadium pitch after securing promotion from League Two.
Fans now face a week of agonising waiting before the rearranged trip with the carrot of welcoming the five times European champions to the Pirelli Stadium dangling firmly in front of them.
And for some fans, that is the worst part.
Before they can even think about the prospect of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard pulling into Princess Way, Albion have to overcome a Bournemouth side who sit two divisions higher up the Football League ladder.
Brewers nut Liam Eaton, who plays for the supporters’ football team, said the match would rank as highly as the encounter with Manchester United in 2006 when Albion famously earned a replay at Old Trafford.
He said: “I think it could be as big, especially if they brought Suarez. If we could maybe get a draw and go back to Anfield – I think I would actually prefer that. I would love to go to Anfield.
“But it is dangerous to look ahead of Bournemouth. We have still got to go back down there.”
Mr Robinson has refused to allow himself to think about hosting one of the world’s most famous clubs.
A game that would be almost certainly played in front of the television cameras, it would also bring with it a massive financial boost.
He said: “We’ve got to get past Bournemouth first but it gives us an even bigger incentive to get a result.
“Obviously now there is the extra prospect of playing the mighty Liverpool.”