JAMES COPPINGER will embark on his 10th FA Cup odyssey with Doncaster Rovers this weekend with his sights on reaching a personal milestone.
He will be making his 469th competitive appearance for the club in tomorrow’s first-round home tie with Stalybridge Celtic, which will break a record set by Rovers cult hero Colin Douglas, part of the fixtures and fittings at the old Belle Vue in the Eighties and early Nineties.
The most famous domestic fotballing trophy was in Doncaster yesterday ahead of Rovers’ tie with Celtic, but the marquee occasion for Coppinger will unquestionably come this weekend.
Coppinger, who has lined up against the likes of Weston-super-Mare and Tiverton for Rovers in the cup – with his first FA Cup goal for the club coming in last season’s 4-1 first-round win at Weston – said: “There’s not many people who can say they have played that many games for a football club and it will take a long time for someone to step up and beat it.
“These days, there’s that many people who come in on two-year contracts and then go somewhere else.
“It’s a proud moment for me. I have been at the club nearly 12 years and to play that many games and average 40 plus games a season, obviously you need a bit of luck along the way to stay injury free and be selected.
“Consistently performing is the key.
“So it’s a massive achievement and something I am really proud of.”
Coppinger has achieved plenty during his epic sojourn at Rovers and was shortlisted as the club’s greatest-ever player in a vote to mark the Football League’s 125th anniversary, along with Alick Jeffrey, Harry Gregg, Charlie Williams and Billy Sharp.
And the evergreen midfielder, who will be 35 in January, insists he has a fair few miles left in his footballing tank, mindful that joining the exclusive bracket of players to feature 500 times for one club is not far off on the horizon.
Coppinger, awarded a richly deserved testimonial last season after joining Rovers in May 2004, said: “It’s realistic at the moment.
“I am feeling fit and injury free, touch wood, and I am enjoying my football.
“At 34 and nearly 35, I come in every day and want to train and look forward to training and playing games.
“As long as I have still got that hunger, it’s massive at my age.”