FA Cup: East Thurrock United travel in West Ham coach

East Thurrock United
East Thurrock United are in their fourth consecutive season in the Ryman Premier
FA Cup first round: Hartlepool v East Thurrock
Venue: Victoria Park Date: Saturday, 8 November Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website, Final Score, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Tees and BBC Essex 103.5FM & DAB. Highlights on BBC Two on Sunday at 18:30 GMT

East Thurrock United boss John Coventry hopes his players get a taste of professionalism by using West Ham's coach for their Hartlepool FA Cup trip.

The Ryman Premier side are still reaping the benefits of their run to the first round three years ago.

"It's a little bit of luxury - that's where some of the money is going to go," Coventry told BBC Essex.

"We're trying to give our players an experience like they were a pro player just for this weekend."

Premier League side West Ham are at home to Aston Villa on Saturday, meaning the Hammers' usual coach for away trips was available to hire.

How to keep up-to-date with the FA Cup on BBC Sport

South Essex side East Thurrock have only reached the first round once before, when they were beaten at home by then-League Two Macclesfield in 2011, but have benefitted from a period of financial stability provided by that run.

The Rocks have secured a four-figure shirt sponsorship deal with a betting firm ahead of the trip to Victoria Park.

And they have also negotiated a bit of help from a friend in the Football League.

"My assistant Joe Keith is talking to Phil Parkinson at Bradford City and I think he's been kind enough to offer their training facilities, which we can use on the Friday on the way up," said Coventry.

"It covers up the fact you're sitting on a coach for five or six hours."

East Thurrock currently play in Corringham but want to sell their Rookery Hill ground for housing and move to a site in Stanford Le Hope to create a sports hub, although they have faced opposition from local residents.external-link

"We've been in the Ryman Premier now for four years. The club had never stabilised at that level for that length of time before," said Coventry.

"We almost got promoted two years ago but the thought of going into the Conference South at the time was quite daunting financially.

"I don't think we can afford to compete at the next level. If we were to relocate, all of a sudden the picture changes."