WITH Jamie Lawrence as a team-mate, Steve McKimm has the perfect opportunity for some insider info before City’s FA Cup trip to Tonbridge Angels.

McKimm, boss of the National League South side, plays in the same Manor Veterans football team as Lawrence and the pair have been pals for years.

But he knows not to ask the Bantams favourite for any tips about next week’s first-round opponents.

“I tried to speak to Jamie, who I know very well, but he’s given nothing away,” said McKimm.

“Bradford is his beloved club and he said he won’t backstab. He’s a man of principle and too loyal.

“One of the lads said to Jamie the other night that he could give me some help. But I would never ask him like that because that club is so close to his heart.

“He wouldn’t do it and I wouldn’t expect him to either.

“It’s a big shame we can’t let anyone in, I can’t even bring my family. But if we were allowed, I’d have Jamie there as guest of honour.

“We get on really well and I speak to him quite a bit. We were together at Sutton for a bit when he was doing the fitness stuff there and we’ve known each other ever since.

“I’m sure he would have loved to have been there if he could.”

An FA Cup crack at league opposition has been a very long time coming for the Kent club – nearly half a century in fact. Their last appearance in round one was in 1972 with a 5-0 defeat to Charlton.

McKimm told the Telegraph & Argus: “I’ve been here for seven seasons and we’ve made the fourth qualifying round once. We got battered by Dartford.

“Plenty of managers before that haven’t had a good run in it so this is such a big achievement for us.

“Hopefully it won’t be another 48 years before they get there again.

“The fans will be painting the town blue anyway. They will be watching it whatever happens.”

The absence of a crowd will inevitably take some of the gloss off the occasion for a club, whose past luminaries include Roy Hodgson, Ron Saunders and Malcolm Macdonald.

City will be the first league team Tonbridge have faced competitively since moving to the Longmead Stadium in 1980 and there is a tinge of disappointment for McKimm that the stands must remain empty.

“It’s devastating that fans aren’t allowed in because everyone is chomping at the bit to watch games again. It does take the edge off it.

“I do understand and I don’t and you’ve just got to do what they say. They’re not going to change their minds.

“To have a team like Bradford come to us is something that our players couldn’t have dreamed of.

“You look at the draw and see the likes of Bradford, Portsmouth and Ipswich in there just to name a few.

“You get to this stage and all you can dream of is a big game – and, in my eyes, Bradford is one of them.”

The prize money is down this year because of the pandemic. But as well as the £16,972 that first-round winners will pocket, there is also £5,657 for the beaten team.

With the game also chosen for live broadcast coverage, both will be further boosted by £32,000 each in TV revenue.

That guaranteed windfall will provide significant help for Tonbridge, a club owned by the fans. An online fund-raiser has also been set up by Bantams fan Jonnie Carrington to make up for what they will lose in gate receipts.

McKimm added: “The board have never budgeted for a cup run in every season I’ve been in charge.

“Anything made just goes back into the club to keep it running and sustainable. That’s how we are run.

“We’ve got no sugar daddy to plough in loads of money. We’ve been community-owned for a number of years now and it’s the way forward.

“We’ve missed out on a lot of events through our marquee and clubhouse which help us tick over, especially in the summer.

“Our marquee was booked out for weddings, christenings and parties every Friday and Saturday. So, this will go a long way to making up for that.

“This will help keep us on an even keel rather than fighting to pay bills every week.”

McKimm knows all about the cup exploits of Tonbridge’s opponents as he hopes to take inspiration from the underdog status.

“You look at Bradford’s upsets over the years, 2-0 down to Chelsea and beating them 4-2 at Stamford Bridge, going to Wembley not so long ago and beating Aston Villa and Arsenal.

“Now it’s our turn and it’s such a good, exciting draw for our players and the club.

“Bradford will find we’ve got a nice pitch, nice ground and not your typical non-league changing rooms. We just want to put on a good event and make a league club feel welcome – but not too much.”