IN football, a lot can change in nine years.

When Poole Town visit Hayes & Yeading this Saturday in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round, there will be quite a few differences from when the sides first met in 2010 at the same stage.

Dolphins back then were a Wessex Premier side – four tiers below full-time Hayes & Yeading of the Conference Premier.

Now the two share a division, after Poole’s substantial rise and Hayes’s dramatic decline.

Of the starting XIs that day, many would expect none to remain in the respective squads – yet Jake Smeeton remains a part of the rematch almost a decade on.

When asked by the Daily Echo if he remembered the game, Smeeton said: “Not very well to be honest! I’m assuming we lost that game. I’m not one that tends to dwell on defeats, so if we lost it that’s probably why I don’t remember it.

“I was a lot younger back then. The importance of it probably went over my head at the time, but I’m a more experienced head now.

“I was in either my first or second season at Dorchester, and I was just coming back from injury. I had a loan spell here to help my recovery.”

Back then, Smeeton was a young footballer finding his feet in the semi-pro world after being released by hometown club Yeovil Town. Fast forward to 2019 and the defender had become a stalwart at Poole’s rivals Dorchester Town, where he made over 300 appearances.

One of those appearances would become the most special – an FA Cup first round tie with Plymouth Argyle in 2012, which saw Smeeton’s Dorchester come out on top.

“It’s one of the great tests of non-league, the cup,” Smeeton added. “The FA Cup is big for everyone, including the players.

“For me I’ve been there with Dorch – we got to the second round. For the younger players especially, it is quite an achievement, getting to the first round.

“We played Plymouth at home, in front of a crowd of around 4,500. It was a great opportunity to compete with higher level players, and for the club it was a real boost – it helped them for years moving forward money-wise.

“It was such a great atmosphere and opportunity, especially for the younger players, in front of those big crowds it is a great experience.”

But Poole aren’t there yet – something Smeeton knows, and is keen to share with the less experienced players.

He said: “If we get there it will be great – but we have to focus on Saturday first. We’re expecting a tough game.

“The group of players here is really strong. We have a really good mix of young, exciting players with some cooler, older heads. Midweek we really shouldn’t have drawn (against Truro), so we’ll be really keen to bounce back and get into the first round proper.

“You never take it lightly, because the FA Cup is the FA Cup – anything could happen.”