Kidderminster dreaming of FA Cup giant-killing as West Ham come to town

Kidderminster Harriers v Reading – Emirates FA Cup – Third Round – Aggborough Stadium
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Kidderminster manager Russ Penn is dreaming of history as his side prepare to host West Ham in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday and knows the omens are good for the non-league side.

An impressive 2-1 win over Championship Reading last month earned Harriers a shot at a high-flying Hammers team in the hunt for Champions League qualification.

West Ham boss David Moyes will be in no mood to take this weekend’s opponents lightly, given he was dumped out of the competition by Kidderminster as a player at Preston in 1994.

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That victory was part of the Aggborough club’s best ever run to the fifth round, where they lost to the Hammers, with Birmingham also beaten along the way when Blues were owned by David Gold and David Sullivan, the current co-owners of West Ham.

Penn said: “I said to the lads in the changing room after we beat Leamington that we have to believe history can be made one day, so let’s hope it could be Saturday. We’ve given ourselves an opportunity to do that.

“We are in an empty book to be scripted and we will give it our best shot.

“I knew about the David Moyes link, but I completely forgot about Gold and Sullivan. This is what I mean, it is history.

“How many years ago are we talking? Twenty-eight years. It is unbelievable and these people are still in the game, which is why I have the utmost respect for David Moyes.

“What a manager to come to the place. I know he will respect us, respect the football club and respect the competition with the team he will put out.”

Former Harriers midfielder Penn wants Moyes to put out his strongest XI and talked about the importance of starting well.

The National League North team have played seven times since they stunned Reading on January 8 and their 36-year-old boss said West Ham coaches Alan Irvine and Stuart Pearce had been in attendance on four occasions.

“We would rather see the best out there to be honest, but I think even if they play their second team it will be a tough afternoon,” Penn added.

“You would rather get the best of the best. This is our cup final. We have played seven games to get to this situation and if they want to shuffle the pack, so be it, but I believe they will play a strong side.

“What we don’t want is to be embarrassed, that’s a big thing for me.

“On the flipside, can we turn it into a positive and have a real good game? Can we start well, because all of a sudden as the minutes tick by the confidence around the whole place starts to lift. That is how you have to approach it.”

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Penn expects West Ham to be “pleasantly surprised” by the Aggborough facilities given the investment in the stadium in recent years but admits the changing rooms could be a reality check for Premier League stars.

After being snubbed by the television cameras for the visit of Reading, the BBC will broadcast the fourth-round tie that has captured the imagination of the town.

Pubs are selling tickets to watch the match, while several members of Norwegian supporters’ club, The Harriers of Norway, are set to attend.

“We as a football club, obviously we were biased, were very disappointed not to be on TV in the last round, but being a football man and being around the block a little bit, I kind of second guessed we wouldn’t be,” Penn said.

“If they knew there would be an upset, they would have been straight on, but we got through that tie and we are respected by the country a bit more. The BBC have backed that now so delighted.

“We are in a studio now where Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer are going to be sitting on Saturday. It has made it a bit of a reality check to be honest.

“It is very surreal but I think it makes the club look really well. I think the club looks really tidy and we are preparing for one of the biggest clubs in the country coming to town.”

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