ALEX Sykes will be plotting another fairytale when minnows Shortwood United face League One Port Vale in a televised FA Cup tie next Monday.

The 39-year-old ex-Westfields and Wellington player is the joint-manager of Shortwood, who last week shocked Aldershot Town in a fourth qualifying round replay.

Shortwood’s Meadowbank ground normally attracts 120 fans through the gates but it will packed to the rafters for the BT Sport live-televised first-round clash.

The Gloucester club play just one tier above Westfields, who received a club-record £4,000 when Sykes was transferred to Mansfield Town in 1992.

“Aldershot are full-time and more than 60 places and three leagues above Shortwood and this is our first time in round one,” said Sykes, whose mum lives in Wellington.

“All of the Shortwood players have jobs - one of my lads could not make the replay at Aldershot because he could not get out of work.

“Port Vale will be a huge test - they are a big club and are doing well in League One. I have been in the FA Cup a few times but I have never been in the third round hat.”

Sykes is a former Herefordshire FA football development officer, who now teaches PE at Rednock School in Dursley.

The former Aylestone School pupil was a left-sided midfielder and won an England under-18 Schools cap while at Hereford Sixth Form College.

He later played for Forest Green Rovers, Nuneaton Borough, Gloucester City and Bath City.

Cheltenham-based Sykes has enjoyed FA Cup moments as a player - he was involved when Nuneaton knocked out Stoke City and Bath City defeated Barnet.

Westfields’ chief executive Andy Morris remembers the deal which took Sykes to Mansfield Town - whose assistant manager, at the time, was John Newman.

Mansfield paid Westfields £2,000 upfront, another £1,000 when Sykes made his debut and £1,000 when the player bagged his first league goal, against Walsall.

Sykes, who played cricket for Marden, teamed up at Mansfield with former Hereford United trio Phil Stant, Steve Spooner and Paul McLoughlin.

Morris remembers watching Sykes score for England Schoolboys against Holland at Leicester City’s old ground, Filbert Street, in 1992.

Morris said: “We’ve kept in touch and we played Bishops Cleeve a couple of times when Alex was their manager.

“What he has achieved at Shortwood is absolutely fantastic but that’s the magic of the FA Cup and it continues to cause some major surprises.”