Bring it on Jose! Walsall hoping for biggest ever result against Chelsea
History beckons as the Saddlers once again strive to make the town proud as they take on Chelsea tonight – victory would be the club's biggest result ever.
It has been billed as the 'Ginger Mourinho' versus the real one with Saddlers manager Dean Smith hoping to conjure up a miracle by beating The 'Special One's' team of multi-million pound stars.
The third-round Capital One cup tie at the Banks's stadium has whet the appetite of the town, with the club today announcing that the game has sold out.
Although the game was not chosen for live television, it is thought it could earn the club at least £100,000 from gate receipts and merchandise sales.
Club secretary Dan Mole said victory tonight against the Premier League champions would match the club's achievement beating Arsenal in the FA Cup more than 80 years ago.
He said: "It was massive for ourselves to be drawn against the English champions and current cup holders. It is a big a draw as we could have hoped for.
"To welcome Jose Mourinho and Chelsea is something we have all been looking forward to.
"It looks like it will be a sell-out and we couldn't ask for anymore.
"They were the best team in the country and it would rank alongside that if we win.
"But if you imagine the profile football has got around the world today and the money involved, victory would be right up there with any single achievement or one-off game."
He added: "This is a massive occasion due to the fact we are carrying the town's name, the fact it's a full house, the fact Jose Mourinho will be coming to the Banks's."
It has already been a historic year for Walsall having ended a 127-year wait to play at Wembley for the first time.
The club then welcomed music superstar Elton John to the Banks's for a summer concert in a major event for the town.
Tonight's match promises to be another one to remember and fans are clearly sensing something historic could happen.
The club has sold out all 11,000 tickets – more than double the average attendance at the Banks's this season. There are 30 league places between the two clubs and several billion pounds in financial backing.
Chelsea's squad is worth more than £300 million this year, while most of the Saddlers players have arrived for free.
Walsall may be dreaming of beating the Londoners – but the Capital One trophy was sent to the Banks's stadium yesterday.
The cup was also taken to St Patrick's Catholic Primary School for youngsters to touch and take pictures of.
Acting headteacher Elizabeth Robinson said: "It has been a fantastic experience for us and great for us to possibly be a part of history in the making.
"I just want to say all the staff and pupils are behind Walsall FC and we just want them to do their best."
Good luck messages have flooded in for the Saddlers. Walsall Council leader Mike Bird said: "Thousands of people will be coming and spending money and if Walsall did win, everyone would be talking about it across the country and even further afield.
"It is a huge night for the town and we are all right behind them."
Steve Davies, secretary of the Walsall FC Supporters Trust, said that fans were 'absolutely buzzing' about the match and he hoped the players took the opportunity to go down in history.
He added: "I'm old enough to remember some of the old cup runs but we haven't had anything like that for a long time.
"Dean Smith and the boys deserve better crowds than they've been getting and we hope that this will bring plenty of people through the gate. It's not every day you get the champions of the Premier League in WS1."
Walsall South MP Valerie Vaz also rallied the team before tonight's game, saying: "There is only one Special One this season – Dean Smith – and one special team, Walsall FC. Come on you Saddlers!"
Mr Mole said since earning the showdown with Chelsea by beating Brighton and Hove Albion in the semi-final, players and staff had remained professional just focusing on their next league games.
Meanwhile, backroom staff have been busy making preparations for the fixture, with twice as many fans expected than usual.
"Games don't just happen and as much as I want the football club to do well for the fans, Dean Smith and the players, I would really like a positive evening for the staff who have worked extra to put this on," Mr Mole added.
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