This weekend sees Barnet make their FA Cup bow with a fourth qualifying round tie away to Chelmsford City, and Martin Allen is looking forward to getting underway in the oldest cup competition in the world.
Speaking ahead of the game, the Barnet manager said:
“The FA Cup is always a very special weekend and with this local derby against Chelmsford everybody is desperate to play.
“The lads that came on as subs on Tuesday night have all done really well, the players up at Gateshead have all done really well. I really have got a difficult and tough dilemma that I am faced with about which players to pick to play in our team for Saturday’s game.
“I think every footballer just dreams and loves playing in the FA Cup and we are no different. It is very exciting. There will be a lot of passion at the ground on Saturday in Essex. I think half of the stadium will be full up with my family who are all coming over to watch the game. It should be a great day out.
“We have got to get through these tricky, testing, challenging rounds to try and get ourselves up against the big boys.”
Martin did reveal that he would be missing a few faces following some fresh injury concerns, as well as bringing fans up to date on the condition of those who have been missing for the last few weeks:
“We have picked up a couple of injuries over the last few days so Lee Cook and John Akinde are both definitely out and won’t be playing on Saturday. Cooky has got a kick on his ankle the other night so with the cuts and bruising he won’t be ready.
“Muggleton is not quite going to make it, he is just about going to miss out. Keanu is still injured so he is not available. Charlie MacDonald is finishing his late session with the specialist this week so he should hopefully be starting back in full training with us next week.
“We will have to rearrange our team a little bit to get the best out of it.”
Martin admitted that he is expecting a tough test from Chelmsford, who currently lie in 12th place in the Conference South, and said that he is particularly looking forward to catching up with former Bees captain and current Clarets skipper Mark Hughes:
“We have got to get everything right ready for Saturday because Chelmsford are on a good run and they have got some good players.
“They have also got one of my all-time favourite ever players playing in the middle of the pitch for them who scored what I would say is probably one of the most valuable and best goals in the history of this football club. That goal he scored at Burton, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment when that ball hit the back of the net.
“I have got a framed picture on the wall of me and him hugging at the end of the game in my house. It has been there since it happened after he scored that magnificent half-volley. I am really looking forward to seeing him on Saturday and I hope that all of the Barnet supporters give him a hero’s reception.”
Finally, Martin reminisced about his personal recollections of the esteemed old competition as Barnet look to create some special memories of their own in the cup this year:
“I have always said that one of my favourite ever memories of the FA Cup is the Jim Montgomery save for Sunderland against Leeds United [in the 1973 FA Cup final] when I was a little boy on the sofa.
“He had those green cotton gloves on, the skin-tight ones that were the size of your hand notlike the gloves that they wear now. I remember straight after the game after Sunderland had caused that massive upset with their manager Bob Stokoe running around in his coat and trilby I went straight out into our little garden with my sister.
“She was trying to kick balls at me and I was in goal doing the Montgomery save with my mum’s yellow plastic washing up gloves on pretending that I was Jim Montgomery. That is one of my favourite FA Cup memories.”