Spurs are seventh in the Women’s Super League while their fourth round visitors the Reds are top of the fourth division having won five previous rounds to get further in the cup than ever before. The game is due to take place at Barnet’s The Hive ground from 1pm on Sunday. Barnsley have won their last ten matches in all competitions, keeping clean sheets in the most recent four, following a 17-0 win over lower league Socrates in the Sheffield Senior Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
“I have told the girls it would be the biggest upset ever in women’s FA Cup history,” said manager Chris Hamilton. “It would be one of the biggest in men’s or women’s football. You can look at Lincoln City, a couple of seasons ago, going to Burnley and winning. It’s a similar gap but probably even bigger for us because Lincoln were full-time and we’re not.
“If there are any part-time teams that can cause a shock against a top flight side, it would be us because we are confident and doing well in our league. “These girls always rise to a challenge and like being underdogs.”
Hamilton, a former player in the lower leagues of Scotland, has experience of a huge cup tie as he was part of the fourth division Dumbarton side that lost 4-0 to Celtic in the 2007 Scottish FA Cup. He said: “There were 55,000 people at Celtic Park. We were hoping for an upset but we lost 4-0. It was still a great occasion. There are things we could have done better as a club to prepare and I have learned from that for this game. My reflections from that day to the girls are that they can’t let it pass them by, they have to soak it up and enjoy all of it – the night before, the build-up and the game. We are looking for the win but, if we can’t get that, we need to get everything we can from the experience.”
Hamilton combines his role at Barnsley with a job in the police in the RAF, while the rest of the staff and players also juggle their careers and football. He said: “It’s never easy being a part-time club. Myself and two of my staff are in the RAF. One of the players is a postie, a few of them are teachers, a few are still at college and one works at Reds in the Community. Sometimes they can’t make training due to their other commitments but we work around it.
“As staff, we sometimes have to rush to get to training and miss dinner, or miss out on time with our families. But we know it is appreciated by the club and the players, and we appreciate the work the players do as well. Days like Sunday make it all worth it.”
Hamilton is thrilled at the prospect of facing a top flight side. He said: “It’s going to be good. We have had a good two weeks of prep towards it and we have done a lot of homework on Spurs. We’re not daft and we know how big a test it is going to be. They are full-time with some really good players but we need to take the challenge on and see what we can do. It’s a massive challenge but we’ll give it everything we’ve got. We’ve come up with a system that we feel will give us our best shot of causing an upset and we’ll be organised.”
Vice-captain Annie Ward added: “For most of the girls, it’s the biggest fixture they have played in. I played in the USA on a scholarship when I was 18 and I played at Michigan State in front of 3,000 people, but this will be the biggest game in England that I have played in. “There is a big buzz around the club. We are going there to cause an upset. We’re not stupid, we appreciate Spurs will be a very good side. “But we are not there just to have a fun day, we will go there to give a very good account of ourselves. I travel from Scunthorpe which is a challenge but it’s worth it because it is a superb club to be part of and I love it.”
On Sunday, Socrates scored an own goal then Lissa Woodhouse netted four while Laura Bartup and Becks Hornsey hit hat-tricks with Kath Smith and Amy Woodruff adding two each. The other scorers were Lindsey Tugby and Jade Butcher.