Darryl Eales' notes in the Blackburn FA Cup programme
Good afternoon and welcome to our eagerly awaited fourth round FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers.
There are a variety of interesting connections between the two clubs and it is a pleasure to welcome the Blackburn fans, players and officials today.
The biggest connection is surely Derek Fazackerley, a Blackburn legend having made a record 596 league appearances for Rovers between 1969 and 1987. Derek is one a the sages of football, a wonderful ambassador with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the game. We are fortunate to benefit from Derek's knowledge and insight and I am sure he will relish the challenge of taking on his alma mater.
For many, the tie will bring back memories of one of the greatest FA Cup moments in our history: a 3-1 win over Blackburn at the Manor in the 5th round in 1964.
The final connection I will mention is Michael Appleton who, for the second time in a week, will face a former club.
This neatly links to the win last week at Fratton Park. It was a resilient performance, demonstrating that we can dig in when necessary, and the game was won by a moment of magic from Jordan Bowery, on his debut!
Yet again, our fans were magnificent and made a real difference. More than 2,000 making the journey to Southsea and making an incredible noise and generating a great atmosphere.
At home, our crowds are also on the up. Today is the second full house in a matter of three weeks and another big attendance is expected for Tuesday against Millwall.
This level of support is fantastic and emphasises the massive potential of the club if we can deliver progress and, ultimately, promotion.
The demands on supporters financially are significant – the flip side of our success on three fronts to date – but what I can say is that big crowds really do make a difference and coaching staff and players alike are truly fully appreciative of your outstanding commitment and brilliant vocal support.
Turning to the club more generally, I am always exploring ways in which we can develop the club, especially in building for the long term and making a difference to communities across Oxfordshire.
In this regard, Jonty Castle (football operations), Caroline Robbins (community) and I have just returned from a whistlestop fact-finding trip to India. We were hosted wonderfully by Parth Jindal, whose family business, the JSW Group, own FC Bengaluru. FCB currently top the I-League and are managed by Ashley Westwood, a good friend of Michael Appleton’s.
During the trip we learned of their ambitious plans to develop Indian football and explored ways in which we could potentially support this objective, while also accelerating the development of our own academy.
We are also delighted to welcome Russ Bradbury and his under-18 side as our special guests this evening. SC Wiener Neustadt holds a special place in this season's history and it is fantastic that we are able to reciprocate their hospitality.
Finally, it would be remiss of me, on the theme of progress in cup competitions, not to mention our Oxfordshire Senior Cup on Wednesday against Ardley!
Thanks to everyone for attending today. It should be a great occasion and, with your fantastic support, I am sure we can provide Blackburn with a stern test, despite their Championship pedigree.
Best wishes and COYY!