Guiseley manager Paul Cox admits that he responded with a wry smile when, as he sat at home watching the FA Cup second-round draw on television with his wife Natasha, he was handed a potential trip down memory lane.
In a competition where sentimental reunions are commonplace, a visit to Cox’s former club Mansfield Town – should his side progress in tonight’s replay at the Wham Stadium – is probably as nostalgic as it could get for the Lions’ chief.
An avowed footballing romanticist, Cox famously agreed – ahead of a round two replay with Lincoln City the previous month – to bring forward his wedding to his then long-term partner if his Mansfield side earned a glamour third-round cup date with Liverpool in January, 2013.
A similarly whimsical bet may have taken place between husband and wife ahead of this latest fateful cup draw, too, on the possibility of the Lions seeing off Accrington Stanley to book a date at Field Mill next month.
Cox, whose new No 2 Adam Murray is also an ex-Stags manager, told The Yorkshire Post: “It is romance. The FA Cup, it’s what it is all about.
“When Mansfield came out, the wife looked at me. It would be a romantic tie for me and people like Adam, who has just come in.
“But we have got to try and beat a very, very good side who are flying high in the league above us first.
“I like to walk before I can run and if we are fortunate enough to get a good result on Tuesday, I might start to dream about going back to one of my old clubs and meeting some fabulous people who I worked with there.
“I keep in touch with John Radford (chairman) and my wife keeps in touch with Carolyn (Radford, chief executive). I have been to a couple of reserve games and there are some fabulous people working there and I had such a fabulous time there.
“It was a great period of my life. If it were to happen – and it is a big if – I would love it as we had some great times there with fantastic people.
“We are in the game for the Sunday afternoon we recently had and the romance of the FA Cup, and it creates memories, dreams and aspirations.
“If we get to play Mansfield, it will mean that we have played very well and won a huge game. There is a lot to be done before then and we must approach everything right.”
The fastidious Guiseley chief certainly got plenty right in preparing his side for the first instalment, with only a majestic performance from Reds goalkeeper Aaron Chapman ensuring that the visitors remained in the hat for the round two pairings following a 0-0 draw at Nethermoor on November 5.
It was an afternoon when most of the fireworks were supplied by Guiseley, who made a mockery of the fact that 42 places separated the teams ahead of kick-off, with Chapman making fine saves to deny the likes of Mike Fondop, Jake Lawlor and Kevan Hurst.
Relieved to have escaped with a draw they may have been, but Accrington, flying high in second place in League Two, are very much strong favourites this evening.
Cox, for his part, is hoping that the delicious unpredictability of the cup can yield a surprise as the Lions strive to earn a place in round two of the competition for the first time in their history.
Cox added: “There is no pressure on us.
“With Accrington’s form this season, the bookmakers will have it down as a clear home win. The beauty about the FA Cup is that anything can happen.
“We will not set up defensively. We will try and score goals and win the game.
“If we do not, then we will move on.
“We went into the first game to go and win it. For 90 minutes, we had a go and tried to score goals and that is what we are going to do at Accrington.
“That is how I want my team to play. We will try and create a bit of history.
“It is the best cup competition in the world and to see one or two upsets is what it is all about.
“We gave it a right good go in the first game and there is nothing that should make us apprehensive about the replay.”
On an afternoon when several players in white excelled in their first Roses meeting, raw striker Fondop was close to the top of that list, troubling the Stanley rearguard with his strength and aerial ability.
Accrington will be minded to be wary of the ex-Oxford City forward, with Cox believing that Fondop has the potential to attract the interest of league clubs in the future if he can replicate his display in the first game on a regular basis.
Cox said: “We have dragged Michael from nowhere.
“When he has an understanding of what he really is, you will see the proper Michael Fondop. He needs a lot of work, he is a bit raw at the minute. But he has masses of potential.
“If he keeps putting in performances like that, things will happen, goals will come and he will be looked at by clubs higher up in the league.
“Sometimes Mike frustrates everybody. But he is an honest, great lad and one that can progress and get even higher.”
Meanwhile, Cox has taken contingencies ahead of tonight’s replay, confirming that his side have practised penalties in the event of the game lasting the course and going all the way to a shoot-out.