HULLBRIDGE Sports are set to make history this weekend by taking part in the FA Trophy for the first time.

Sports will welcome Barton Rovers to the Ryan’s Heating Stadium tomorrow.

And Hullbridge boss Darren Manning cannot wait for the big occasion.

“It’s going to be exciting for everybody connected with the football club,” said Manning, who led Sports into the Isthmian North after being crowned the Essex Senior League champions last season.

“We have had FA Vase runs but it is time for us to get our teeth stuck into the FA Trophy.

“It’s going to be very difficult to enjoy success in the competition because, being in the lowest division involved in the FA Trophy, we are at the bottom of the food chain.

“But we will go into the game like any other - looking to win.

“The chairman is begging me to win because of the prize money on offer, but we would be wanting to win the game regardless of that because it is a pleasure to represent this fantastic football club.”

Manning took over as Hullbridge’s manager with the club second-from-bottom in the Essex Senior League standings in November 2017.

However, Manning led Sports to safety and then followed it up with a title win.

And Manning feels being involved in the FA Trophy shows how far the club has come under his guidance.

“James Wakeling (Hullbridge’s assistant manager) and I were reflecting on where the club was when we came in,” added Manning.

“When you look at it and see what we have achieved in a short amount of time, it makes me extremely proud.

“It’s like we’re in dreamland and it has been such a quick turnaround.

“Being in both the Isthmian North and FA Trophy for the first time in the club’s history is massive.”

Barton ply their trade in the Isthmian Southern Central and are ninth in the standings following an encouraging opening the campaign.

Hullbridge have also made a promising start to life in the fourth tier of non-league football and are 13th in the Isthmian North table.

Sports go into tomorrow’s clash having suffered just one defeat in September, with that coming against Heybridge Swifts.

And Manning is hoping to round off an impressive month in style.

“Getting a win tomorrow would make it a very good month,” admitted Manning.

“We are still settling into the Isthmian North and we are getting better with every match and training session.

“I wanted to keep last season’s title-winning squad together and the vast majority of them stayed, while we made a few signings.

“The boys know what I expect and the fundamental elements I have put in place.

“We have had to change how we play, so we are in transition.

“I think we are reaping the rewards for staying together.”