“THE biggest game in the club’s history.”

Colne boss Steve Cunningham is in no mood to underplay the importance of tomorrow’s FA Cup fourth round qualifying tie at Gateshead.

The Reds may have won cups, titles and reached play-offs in the past but, with a place in the first round of the FA Cup on the line, this beats the lot.

And Cunningham says he is taking his side to the North East to win and not just to enjoy the day out.

Colne have negotiated four rounds and, including replays, six games to reach this stage and are the lowest ranked team left in the competition.

But the Reds boss doesn’t want the journey to end.

“This is massive, the biggest game in the club’s history without a doubt,” said Cunningham. “To be the lowest ranked side left in the FA Cup tells you just how difficult it is to get here but we don’t want this adventure to stop.

“We are not just going there to enjoy ourselves, we are going there to try and win.”

Colne reached the semi final of the FA Vase back in 2004 - losing 4-3 on aggregate to AFC Sudbury - winning the divisional cup in the same year, while in more recent times, they won the NWCL title in 2016, reached the Lancashire Challenge Trophy final last season and have reached the play-offs in three of the four campaigns since promotion to the Evo Stik League.

Cunningham now wants his side to write another chapter in the club’s history.

“Those were all great achievements in their own right but we have the chance to do something very special,” said Cunningham now in his sixth season in charge at the Sovereign Play Stadium. “I have a great bunch of players, an average age of 21, and they all know what they can achieve and confidence is very high.”

While 55 places separate Gateshead, ninth in National League North, and Colne, 16th in BetVictor North West Division, Cunningham believes their hosts are beatable.

And he insists the pressure is on his side just as much as their hosts who will be considered clear favourites.

“If we are on top of our game and Gateshead are slightly off par, we can definitely win,” he said. “Some might say all the pressure is on Gateshead but I’m not having that.

“In fact, I have heaped all the pressure on my players. Some of them have dreams of playing at a better standard and this is a great opportunity for them to show what they can do and see if they can perform at this level.

“We are desperate to reach the first round proper so, in that respect, all the pressure is on us as well.”

Cunningham and his coaching staff have run the rule over Gateshead in preparation for the tie - not that they have done anything thing different to a league game.

“We have done our due diligence but just as we would do for Kendal or Pickering Town who are struggling in our division,” he said. “We have trained Tuesday and Thursday and basically we have prepared the same as we would do for any game.”

As well as the prestige of reaching the first round proper, there are also the financial rewards - something not lost on Cunningham.

“The winner of this match gets £18,000 and that jumps significantly when you get in to the first round so, financially, for a club like us, that is huge,” he said. “But from our point of view, it’s all about the football and the money is just a bonus.”

Win or lose, Cunningham says it is an occasion for the whole club to celebrate - especially the fans.

“They have been magnificent,” he said. “They have a coach and a couple of mini buses going up and they have supported us all the way. This is a special day for them as well.

“Hopefully they will have plenty to cheer about!”