Sefton Athletic are representing the Liverpool FA this weekend in the Northern Counties Senior Competition this weekend and manager Jack Antonio only has his sights on success.
They will be representing Merseyside against Wortley FC of the West Riding FA for a place in the final.
Elsewhere in the last four, the Cheshire County FA will take on East Riding County FA. The competition is back for the first time following its hiatus due to the Coronavirus.
Sefton were nominated to represent the county after their historic Liverpool Premier League triumph last season. They etched their name on the history league trophy finishing nine points clear of nearest challengers Liverpool Nalgo.
The occasion comes around seven years after the club was formed and to Antonio, this opportunity means everything. He told Off The Park: “It means everything, where we’ve come from, we started as a club seven years ago under Custy’s originally then we turned into Sefton.
“During COVID and everything else it was a struggle, we were finishing mid-table to, even, bottom and before the start of last season there was talk of us folding, we were struggling to get a side the season before.
“We went from that position to winning the league the next year with the same group of players, same group of lads all the way through, the core for the full seven years so to come together and win the league it means a lot to everyone.
“We put a lot of work in, train twice a week, everyone’s committed so to represent the county now, we’re hoping to go and win it, we’re not looking to take part, we want to win all of it.”
Their defence of the Liverpool Premier League hasn’t gone entirely to plan as they sit 16 points off current leads MSB Woolton. As a result, their hopes of salvaging the season and turning it into a successful one rely upon their involvement in the cups.
They rolled into the next round of the George Mahon Cup with a 9-0 win over Marshall’s U21s. Their penalties win over Maghull secured their place in the last eight of the LCFA Challenge Cup.
Saturday poses a chance for another shot at silverware, merely participating in it won’t satisfy the Sefton boss.
“You only get out what you put in at the end of the day and the rewards for it, this is just another one of those things, it’s another trophy,” he added.
“It means a lot more this year because we’ve had a slow start in the league, we’re in a position where it’s going to be tough to bring that back and challenge for the league so the cup competitions are everything for us now.
“The squad we’ve got, we’ve got to be winning trophies, if we’re not winning trophies we’re all disappointed, anything less than winning isn’t good enough.”
On Saturday, the opposite corner will be Wortley – a team founded in 1974 – who play in the Yorkshire Amateur League. They sit fifth in their division, 13 points off the league leader.
However, they come into the encounter on the back of a rocky run with defeats to Middleton, Athletico FC and Leeds University among their past results.
Whatever form they’re in is of no interest to Antonio, he insists. His focus on ensuring the players who feature on Saturday put in a performance.
He said: “It’s hard because there isn’t much coverage, you can look on Twitter and see how they’re getting on but at the end of the day, you don’t know what to expect.
“It doesn’t matter about team results, you can turn up play a team at this level who might be getting beat in the last few weeks, you turn up on the day they’ve got a new side.
“We’re not too worried about them, we’re just focusing on ourselves really, worry about us, if we’re the best we can be, no one can beat us.
“It’d mean everything, not just the final, we want to win the whole thing,” he said on his ambitions.
“Getting to the final will be good, it’s another good day out, Saturday is going to be a great day, taking a 55-seater, a lot of lads driving down, it’s a chance for us to do something not many teams get a chance to do.
“Getting to the final will be great but we want to win the whole thing.”