DONCASTER Rovers’ manager Darren Ferguson does not have to go far to appreciate the magic of the cup ahead of this weekend’s first round.
He resides an hour or so down the A1 in Stamford where cup fever has taken hold of the quiet south Lincolnshire market town, whose football team visit Hartlepool United in round one tomorrow.
It is a reminder to Ferguson of the allure of the world’s most enduring domestic cup competition.
Not that he probably requires it, given his father Sir Alex’s winning association with it as manager at Manchester United – he won the cup five times while at Old Trafford.
Ferguson said: “It is a great cup and we had a really good run in it last year and we had a fantastic full house in a really enjoyable game (against Stoke) when we got pipped at the end.
“There is not anything like in any other country, there’s no argument about that. You look at the Copa del Rey and there is no comparison to it. It (the FA Cup) captures everyone’s imagination.
“My local team Stamford are going to Hartlepool and the town is full of talk about it and it is the only tournament that does that.
“The aim for clubs like ourselves in League One and League Two is to get to the third round and get a big one and there is no difference this season.”
Ferguson may be an unabashed fan of the competition, but he has vowed to be pragmatic regarding his selection, given a number of fitness issues, in tomorrow’s first-round Roses tie at Oldham.
The Scot has already confirmed that injury-hit defender Craig Alcock will be handed his first appearance this season.
But whatever side he fields, he has stressed it will be one determined and competitive enough to progress, with the competition by no means a side-issue to league matters. Ferguson added: “Whatever team I pick, I want us to win the game.
“I am not picking a team just for a run-around on a Saturday afternoon and that has been explained thoroughly to the players.
“It will still be a strong team and one capable of beating Oldham, there is no doubt about that.
“I want to go as far as I can in the cup. But as a manager, I have to show common sense as with the injuries I have got, I cannot risk any more to certain players.”