Richard Wood column: My back-garden dreams of scoring the winner at Wembley

The FA Cup is the most famous domestic club competition in world football and for me it has never lost its magic.

Thursday, 5th January 2017, 11:00 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 12:12 pm
Evert player's dream ... winning the FA Cup Final

Every footballer’s dream is to play in the FA Cup Final at Wembley.

Speak to any footballer, or fan for that matter, and I bet they have pictured themselves scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final. I lost count of the number of times as a kid I acted out scoring the winner in my back garden or up at the park. Saying that, I still do it now with my children!

The third round sees the introduction of the ‘big boys’ and for every lower-league club and non-league club there is a chance of the fairytale. The David knocking out a Goliath, and jubilant scenes with unlikely heroes.

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Stourbridge FC, of the Evo-Stik NPL Premier, are the lowest-ranked team left in the competition. They have progressed through six rounds, the first at the start of September, and have already played seven games!

The Glassboys face Wycombe in the third round and, although it’s not the glamour draw they would have hoped for, they will see it as a good chance to progress to the fourth round and be this season’s cup story. Their players will be hopeful of being in the hat for the next round and possibly getting the once-in-a-lifetime chance to play against one of the giants in the game, and, of course, there’s the thought of a giant-killing. This is what makes the historic competition so special. In 90 minutes, anything can happen.

I’ve never come close to reaching the final in my career so far. I reached the quarter-final with Charlton three seasons ago, but that doesn’t curb the enthusiasm for winning a trophy, however unlikely, at this time of year. A cup run would be very pleasing considering our season so far.

Even though I’ve never made a cup final and played at Wembley, I can say that I did play at the ‘old’ Wembley stadium, which not many people can claim, especially now!

It was back in 1996 and I was a ten-year-old playing for Wakefield Schools district team.

Adidas had created a tournament involving all districts across the country. We first won our regional cup and then went on to become North of England winners. The final was held at Wembley before an England game. We got to stay in a hotel overnight and then played on the hallowed turf. It was a completely overwhelming experience at such a young age.

My team/roommate, who is still a good friend, didn’t make it as a footballer but calls upon that special day every time I see him. It is a memory nobody can take away from us.

I even got a loads of Adidas items given to me which I still have. I was given the first edition of the Adidas Predator football boots. I wore them for the match that day and will always have them as a memento to remind myself and my friend “we played at the old Wembley!”.