PHIL PARKINSON has challenged his Bradford City side to create another slice of cup history that supporters will be able to treasure for years to come.
The Bantams host Millwall tonight in their FA Cup third-round replay knowing that victory will earn the club a glamour tie at Premier League leaders Chelsea later this month.
A cash windfall of around £400,000 is also at stake for the winners, which in City’s case would be enough to wipe out the remainder of a budgeted £1m deficit for the season.
Parkinson admits the financial benefits of a fourth-round trip to Stamford Bridge on January 24 would be a major fillip for the League One outfit.
However, the Bradford chief is also keen to give supporters another tie to rival the never-to-be forgotten victories over Arsenal, Aston Villa and Leeds United in recent years.
He said: “Some of my best personal memories of being Bradford City manager are cup nights under the lights. There is always a special atmosphere and I can’t wait to sample that again.
“We said at the time of those games that they will be remembered for years and years.
“When I bump into Bradford fans wherever I am, they all want to talk about those nights.
“The ones who were fortunate to get tickets for Aston Villa away (in the semi-final) talk about that being one of the highlights of supporting Bradford.
“We have enjoyed those and it would be nice now to give them another one. We have got the chance to do that.”
City, League Cup finalists in 2013, will need to create a slice of modern-day history to book a trip to Chelsea.
Not only is it 15 years since the Bantams made it to the fourth round, but the Yorkshire club has not successfully battled through three stages of the FA Cup since reaching the quarter-finals in 1975-76.
“I can’t remember being in a situation like this and it is unusual,” said Parkinson about going into a tie knowing such a big prize is at stake in the next round.
“There has been so much talk about the draw. But that is great because that is what we wanted. It has just added to the occasion.
“Millwall may need the money, too, but it is not that. It is the prestige of going to Stamford Bridge for a London club.
“Ian Holloway’s teams are always tough to play against. They are also open and give you a chance.
“I think the 3-3 scoreline down there suggests that and I don’t see a great deal of difference this time. It is going to be a very attack-minded game for both teams.
“We went down there and approached it in a positive way and we will do the same again.
“We want to put Millwall under as much pressure as we possibly can. We need to raise the atmosphere because the more the crowd are behind us, the better chance we have got.”
Tonight’s replay must be settled on the night, meaning extra-time and penalties may come into play.
City, of course, boast an incredible record in shoot-outs with nine consecutive victories, a run that stretches back to beating Notts County in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in October, 2009.
Seven of those penalty triumphs have come under Parkinson, who insists his players do not leave the training field the day before a cup tie without successfully converting one penalty.
He added: “It is getting the balance right between practising your technique and not going overboard on it. We practise them before every cup tie. Don’t try to be too clever.”
The prospect of a trip to SW6 in the fourth round has certainly caught the imagination of supporters.
City’s last home FA Cup tie on an evening saw just 3,620 fans watch a 1-1 draw with Brentford in December, 2012, but already more than 10,000 tickets have been sold for tonight’s tie.
Jon Stead, who recently signed for Bradford until the end of the season, said: “You don’t want the regret of missing out on a great cup tie. But the business is to be done at Valley Parade first.
“There is a great confidence in the squad, even off the back of losing (to Rochdale in the league) on Saturday.
“On a personal level, I have not had many great cup runs. I had a semi-final when I was at Blackburn against Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium (2005) but that’s about it.”
Captain Andrew Davies is back after missing two games through a hamstring strain, but tonight’s tie could come too soon for Billy Clarke (knee).
Jordan Pickford serves a one-game ban following his dismissal against Rochdale but, in common with all cup ties this term, Ben Williams would have started in goal tonight anyway.
Last six games: Bradford City WDWWDL, Millwall WLLLDL.
Referee: J Adcock (Nottinghamshire).
Last time: Bradford City 2 Millwall 2; May 5, 2007; League One.