Southampton v Huddersfield Town - Danny Cowley plans another FA Cup adventure

Danny Cowley: Loves the FA Cup.
Danny Cowley: Loves the FA Cup.
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A 460-MILE round-trip to a distinctly unglamorous Premier League location, selection issues and the pain of a bruising 5-2 midweek home defeat still yet to subside.

Should anyone care to reference ‘the Magic of the Cup’ to Huddersfield Town and you may receive some questionable looks.

Given Danny Cowley’s upbringing in football and enduring relationship with the FA Cup, from Concord Rangers to Lincoln City, where the journey traversed from a qualifying round replay at Guiseley’s Nethermoor home to a historic quarter-final at Arsenal’s magnificent Emirates Stadium home, the competition’s romance will always hold and with good reason.

As a boyhood West Ham supporter, Cowley was weaned on tales of FA Cup glory, from Alan Taylor to Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds to Paul Allen. It is a competition which has been good to him emotionally and professionally.

Cowley, whose Lincoln side in 2016-17 became the first non-league club to reach the last eight of the competition since former Southern League outfit QPR in 1914, said: “I have watched all the (West Ham) videos and we also won it in 1975 as well as 1980 when Trevor Brooking scored a diving header. I remember that from somewhere!

“In recent times, we did very well at Concord Rangers and I think we played eight games to get to the first round proper and then we played Mansfield. I remember we got all the way to Mansfield and were well excited about the game and the pitch was flooded and it was called off.

“We had to come back on a Tuesday night and we were all at work and had to get time off. We drew 1-1 and Jordan Chiedozie scored an unbelievable goal from thirty yards and on the back of it, Cambridge pinched him as he was non-contract. He was our best player.

“At Lincoln, I remember we played Oldham and we were National League and our crowds were around three-and-a-half thousand and we played them on a Monday night on BT Sport and they paid us good money and, at the time, it was really helpful to the club and there were five thousand people there.

“It was really foggy. It ended with supporters having their torches on their phones out. It was a night when we felt we were onto something and it grabbed their attention and imagination.

“I then remember we played Ipswich in a replay on BBC and that was really good as it was a lot of money. I think we moved it back to eight o’clock so Eastenders could go first and we beat them in the ‘93rd minute’.

“I watched Burnley at home to Chelsea on the Sunday and they had an unbelievable home record and I was thinking: ‘oh God’ and then we beat them 1-0 and we had goalline technology which we had never had before. It was brilliant; the best day and I went on Match of the Day that night as well.

“We then got a quarter-final at Arsenal and the club made three million pounds. On the back of that, we got a new training ground for one-and-a-half million.

“So I love the FA Cup. Even though we have a tough draw in terms of location and opponents, it is a competition we love and we have a chance to go to a Premier League club who are doing very, very well. It is a game we are looking forward to and is fresh and different from the league.”

After a grim start to the New Year, a game at a Premier League opponent in fine recent fettle and entitled to be mindful of the importance of continuing to harness momentum will test both the character, desire and mindset of those in visiting jerseys.

Admitting that he is finding out more about his players on a daily basis, rest assured that Cowley will continue to be in observational mode today.

He added: “We are learning about the players and people every day. We know where we need to get to and what we need to do.

“No matter how good you are as an individual, you always need the support of the people around you. We are determined to get there. I have not only come this far for nothing. We will keep fighting.

“Wednesday was a tough day and when you have tough, competitive men in our dressing room – and we have a lot of them – it stings.

“You either hide yourself away or come out and pin your shoulders back and accept responsibility and look yourself in the mirror and come back and respond.”