Hitman Hatton hails his local heroes

Hyde United are looking forward to the national media gathering at Ewen Fields at lunchtime on Thursday in the build-up to the EVO-STIK League club's televised Emirates FA Cup clash with MK Dons on Friday night.

The EVO-STIK League North’s Tigers – who sold out all 3,500 tickets for the first round proper clash on BBC 2 within hours of putting them on sale – are hosting a press conference from 2pm with manager Darren Kelly, number two David McGurk and a number of players and club officials set to be grilled on their cup run and latest giant-killing hopes.

Ewen Fields was also closed to the public from Wednesday for health and safety reasons with BBC Sport’s technicians erecting gantries and installing equipment at the ground as the Tigers prepare to fly the flag for their local community and the EVO-STIK League in the first game of the cup weekend.

The underdogs won’t be short of supporters or backing from two of the nation’s most famous sportsmen and a top comedian who all sharing strong links with them - England World Cup winner and club president Sir Geoff Hurst, local boxing hero and former World champion Ricky Hatton and funny man John Bishop, a former player and FA Trophy semi-finalist who made 57 appearances and scored seven times for the Tigers.

Hurst, who scored a hat-trick as England beat Germany 4-2 in the 1966 final, was born in nearby Ashton-under-Lyne and his father Charles was once on the books at Hyde. Comedian Bishop has never forgotten his time as a midfielder at Ewen Fields and being one game away from Wembley in 1989, in 2009 responding to a request for help when Hyde were in serious financial strife with tickets for his shows to raffle off for funds.

Hatton told BBC Sport on Wednesday that the Tigers were the talk of the area and could count on his support despite Manchester City being his first love after two of his brothers played for the Premier League giants.

"It's great to see them in the first round at home to a League One club on TV," said The Hitman, now 39 and pictured playing at Ewen Fields in 2014 in a charity match. “I know they've struggled recently but this is terrific for the area and I wish them all the best.”

Hatton, who runs a local gym employing 25 people, added: “This area hasn't had many things to shout about. I hope during my boxing career I was able to make people round here proud and it's great people are now talking about Hyde United. I could live anywhere but I've never lived outside a five-mile radius of Hyde. It's a working-class area full of hard-working people.”

The Tigers will train on Thursday night for their seventh match in the world’s oldest cup competition after kicking off on 19 August with a 4-2 preliminary round home win over Congleton Town. Since then, Kelly's side have earned £29,425 in prize money in five qualifying rounds. The club can expect to earn an additional £100,000 in TV revenue, sponsorship and gate receipts from the tie and a further £18,000 in prize money and a place in the second round if they can overcome their League One opponents.

EVO-STIK League Shaw Lane will also bank a £67,500 TV fee after BT Sport chose to televise their tie with Mansfield Town on Saturday lunchtime. The EVO-STIK League's final flag-bearers, Nantwich Town, missed out on live coverage of their trip to Stevenage but will bank a welcome TV bonus for any highlights shown in the UK and overseas coverage.

Image courtesy of mancunianmatters.co.uk

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