AFC STONEHAM are 100 years old this season – so what a time to make their first ever appearance in the FA Cup.

Having been in the Sydenhams Wessex League for just three seasons, the Purples were delighted to have met the FA’s average points-per-game criteria needed to grace the world’s most famous domestic cup competition.

Stoneham’s reward for a promising 2017/18 campaign, which saw them finish fifth in Sydenhams One and reach the final of the Russell Cotes Cup, is a tasty extra preliminary round tie at home to Sydenhams League Cup holders AFC Portchester on Saturday.

Purples chairman Mark Stupple said: “Saturday is a massive day for AFC Stoneham and testimony to the progress the whole club has made over the last few years.

“For the first ever FA Cup tie to take place in our 100th year is the icing on the cake. The club has waited a long time for this day.”

It’s been quite a week for Stoneham already, having opened the season with a landslide 10-1 league win at struggling Andover Town last Saturday, spearheaded by four-goal Will Harris.

Three days later, Harris struck twice inside the opening 12 minutes to lay the foundations for a 3-1 home success over Whitchurch United in the Hampshire FA Senior Cup preliminary round.

Manager Tim Cole knows that Portchester will be a different challenge given their progress in the FA Cup last year.

The Royals did the Wessex League proud, battling through three rounds of the competition before proudly bowing out 2-0 at Truro City of the National League South.

“Although it’s a huge day for the club, we must focus on the match and not the occasion,” cautioned Cole.

“As probably the lowest ranked club in this year’s competition, we will obviously start as massive underdogs. However, that is the beauty of the FA Cup whereby anything can happen on the day in a one-off cup game".

Stupple added: "Saturday marks an exciting time for the club as we enter the new season with nearly 30 teams and very much hope to see as many of our junior players at the game supporting the boys.

“As well as success on the pitch, we are all looking forward to moving to a brand new home, hopefully within the next 12 months, which will allow the club to grow and develop even further.

"The FA Cup is still the greatest cup competition in the world and, like thousands of other dedicated grassroots football volunteers, to enjoy a day like Saturday is one of the reasons we do it.

"We were delighted that all of last seasons players stayed loyal to the club after a very good season, albeit that we were frustrated to miss out on promotion.

"We have added players such as James Parker-Trott and Marcel Laptas (ex-Hythe & Dibden), Adam Pattison (ex-Totton & Eling), Graham Bird (ex-Winchester Castle) and Djeny Tudila (ex-Barking) who will all strengthen the squad and increase competition for places."

Kick-off is 3pm on Saturday at Stoneham’s HP Arena. Entry is £6 for adults, including a matchday programme, and £3 for concessions.