Harty on the Albion and Crawley in the FA Cup

MORE “A Tale of a Town and a City”, but the historic Sussex representation in this weekend’s FA Cup fourth-round throws up a fascinating situation.

Both our local clubs, the Albion and Crawley, are riding high in their respective leagues, with a real possibility of dual championship wins.

Yet, the Albion’s visit to Watford and Crawley’s journey down to the English Riviera to take on Torquay United provide more than a distinct possibility that our county could yet have two teams in the last 16.

Granted, Watford are going well in the Championship, with high hopes of a play-off place, a route to the Premiership which they have achieved twice in just over a decade, so you wonder what their priorities are, along with Gus Poyet’s?

We will all know by the time both managers hand their team sheets into the ref at 2.30pm on Saturday.

With all due respect to the Albion sides picked in the earlier rounds, some might argue they weren’t the strongest side available to the manager. If Gus Poyet does go with his strongest team, with the exception of cup-tied Craig Noone, at Vicarage Road on Saturday and Watford don’t do the same, then who knows what might happen?

The same can be said for Crawley, who played Torquay in the league only last season. They must be travelling west with a lot of confidence, tempered by the fact that, although their league campaign is looking good, it also depends on a number of games in hand and would that be hampered by an historic cup run?

Many will look at Leeds United last year – riding high in League One before high-profile ties against Manchester United and Spurs saw the wheels of their league campaign fall off. But did that actually have more to do with their then want-away striker, Jermaine Beckford, an alleged troubled soul and a man who makes former Albion troublemaker Leon Knight look like Martin Luther King in comparison.

With both clubs, I have no worries on that score as in Poyet and Steve Evans, they have managers who will keep everyone’s feet on the ground.

Many thanks to Phil Bell at Fontwell Park Racecourse, who has very kindly provided me with a £50 charity bet this weekend for Chestnut Tree House. I’m going big and bold and betting on a Sussex away win double.

So next week we could have two clubs in the fifth round and a few quid in the bank for a very worthy cause.

Due to different deadlines, at the time of going to press my other column in this newspaper said Andy Gray was still in a job as a TV pundit.

But has his sacking from Sky (39 per cent of which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, with a total buyout on the table) got more to do with the fact that he is currently involved in a police investigation concerning alleged hacking of his mobile phone by the News of the World (owned by Rupert Murdoch)?

Finally, good luck to Lancing in the FA Vase on Saturday. Let’s hope the weather holds for them this week.