AS a player, Mark Robins wrote himself into FA Cup folklore with the goal that is credited with not only saving Alex Ferguson’s job but also setting the Scot on the road to the first of his 38 trophies as Manchester United manager.
As a manager, however, the former striker is the first to admit that the world’s oldest knockout competition has been something of a “mixed bag”.
Ahead of today’s potentially tricky trip to Conference side Grimsby Town, the Huddersfield Town manager added: “I took charge of my first game here last season in this competition against Wigan and they gave us a footballing lesson.
“It was a tough start. It is always disappointing when you go out of the FA Cup because it is such a great competition.
“I won it as a player early on in my career (in 1990), so I know what that feels like. It was a fantastic time. It is still exciting when you are in the hat and it is important to all the clubs.
“At this stage of the season – and because of the amount of games we have had over the Christmas period – you hear managers talk about the Cup being a distraction and prioritising by playing a squad game to freshen things up.
“For us, this represents a good opportunity. We are no different to Grimsby in that this represents a pot of money that is well worthwhile winning.
“You also never know who you will get in the next round. There is an opportunity to add to the financial coffers.”
Grimsby, relegated from the Football League in 2010, are hoping to win a return this time around. They sit fourth in the Conference with 44 points from 24 games.
In the Cup, the Mariners have claimed two League Two scalps with Scunthorpe United being beaten after a replay in the first round and Northampton Town knocked out at Blundell Park at the following stage.
Robins has been to watch Grimsby in action as part of Town’s meticulous preparations for today’s tie and he knows Paul Hurst’s side will be tough opponents.
The Terriers chief said: “We have done as much preparation as we can to understand how they play.
“They like to play football on the ground and play out from the back.
“I played with their manager, Paul Hurst, at Rotherham. He is a great lad and was a good player. He was outstanding at defending the back post against players twice his size.
“Paul was the record appearance holder there and I gave him that final appearance, because I inherited Paul when I became manager at Rotherham. He has great enthusiasm.
“He went into management with Rob Scott and did very well at lower levels before getting their chance at Grimsby, but now he’s on his own in slightly different circumstances.
“By all accounts, Grimsby are developing in the right direction and should he be given the time that managers need, I am sure they will be back in the League at the earliest opportunity.
“That could be this season, although possibly via the play-offs as only one team goes up automatically.”
Town started 2014 with a 3-2 defeat at promotion-chasing Burnley but there is an air of satisfaction at the John Smith’s Stadium as to how this season is panning out.
Huddersfield have spent most of the campaign in the relative safety of mid-table with the lowest Robins’s side have fallen being 15th in the wake of the November home defeat by Birmingham City.
Today, though, the focus is on starting a Cup run that could not only bring in welcome revenue but also give supporters an exciting second half of the season.
Robins added: “The FA Cup is brilliant and I don’t think anyone would decry this competition up and down the country.
“The romance of the Cup is that there is always a chance on any given day that a team from a lower league can beat a team from a higher one and we have to make sure we go there professionally and do the job that is required.
“Grimsby already have two League scalps in Northampton and Scunthorpe. If we are not on our mettle, they will look to take our scalp as well.
“Whatever it takes, we want to be in the hat after the final whistle goes. We are looking forward to the game. We know what the FA Cup is about and what we have to do; we will be professional, go there and do the job properly.”