New Lansdowne Road from Shamir Mullings
“You have work, life and training to consider – and maybe a midweek game in Morristown, New Jersey – it never stops from early morning until late at night,” said said Kelly who, alongside assistant coach Craig Purcell, reached the Open Cup and won a National Amateur Cup with the club as a player.
“You have to find the time to train, play, train and travel with all the [academy] kids everywhere,” Mullings added, happy for the opportunity if he was exhausted from the demands. “New York does not sleep – you have to hustle here.”
Open Cup Dreams
These men from Yonkers, two-time national amateur champions, are on course to reach a second consecutive Open Cup. They scored eight goals and conceded none on a road to North East qualifying that is never easy.
“You can never make too much noise,” said Mullings, who plans to bring in a few hundred kids from the youth team to cheer on him and his debut players against Oyster Bay United at home to Tibbetts November 19. “We want to win everything we can and we want to make noise on the pitch.
Mullings is no stranger to Cup competitions. He played 15 times in England’s flagship FA Cup. When he was with Havant and Waterlooville, in 2015 he played his first televised game against a Preston North End side who were then top of League One – a game he says he will “never forget “.
“Things just happen as they happen,” Mullings said, her young daughter cooing for her attention in the background via the phone line. “But doors close and doors open. If it wasn’t for what happened in Hartford [the tryout with Athletic]I wouldn’t have found that.
“I’m happy where I am now,” said Mullings, who knows a shot against the same Hartford Athletic could be on the cards in the Open Cup proper if his team can catch the right kind of wind. “It’s a platform with a lot of exposure. We want to push ourselves and even play against an MLS team.
There are many more early mornings, long car journeys and late nights by then. But Mullings, at home in Yonkers, isn’t worried. “The passion is there,” he says. “We do it because we love it.”
Fontela is editor of usopencup.com. Follow him @jonahfontela on Twitter.