Tom Bender determined to taste the first round proper again with St Albans City ahead of crunch FA Cup clash
- Credit: BOB WALKLEY
It has been five long years but Tom Bender says reaching the first round proper of the FA Cup again is all the motivation he needs ahead of St Albans City's game with Corinthian Casuals.
Saints last reached the big stage, when clubs from League One and League Two enter the competition, in 2016.
That brought Carlisle United to Clarence Park and a crowd of more than 3,000 saw the National League South side give the professional Cumbrians a fight before losing 5-3.
And should they beat the south London Corinthians on Saturday at their King George home, they will be in the velvet bag once more.
Bender said: "I’ve been fortunate as have others like David Noble, I have played in the first round of the FA Cup and there is nothing better.
"There are non-league players who will go their entire career and not reach the first round.
"And it is a shame.
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"Look back at the game here against Carlisle. The atmosphere and the whole buzz around the city leading up to the game, it was unbelievable.
"When you get there, obviously you want to win, but it is just about enjoying the experience as you never know when or if it will come round again.
"We haven’t done it since that Carlisle game and it is something I want to do again with this club."
Personal reasons for Bender, part of that team that lost to Carlisle, are also high on his agenda as is giving a friend and team-mate one last potential hurrah.
"David Noble wants to do again," said the centre-half. "He’s almost 40 and he is not stupid. He knows he hasn’t got many more FA Cup runs in him.
"We have to try and get through for the likes of him.
"But we want to get through and make some memories for us as a team and our families.
"My youngest was only 11 months at the Carlisle game and now he is football mad and St Albans mad and he would absolutely love it if he could be out on the pitch with me.
"We’re through to the next round and although Corinthian won’t be an easy game, we’ve given ourselves a chance.
"That’s the main thing."