Jamie Williams still remembers the day when mighty Arsenal lost to Fourth Division club Wrexham early in 1992 in one of the biggest shocks in FA Cup history.
“I was only 12 at the time, but you don’t forget things like that and it’s haunted me ever since,” says the Gunners fan.
Now Williams is hoping to see another giant-killing act – albeit on a much smaller scale yet still on the long and winding road to Wembley.
He manages underdogs Woodley United who this Saturday take on Reading City in the second qualifying round of the Buildbase FA Vase at the Rivermoor ground in Scours Lane – where both clubs play.
The ‘home’ side on this occasion are hovering near the foot of the Uhlsport Hellenic League’s Division One East, while the Cityzens are currently 31 rungs higher, sitting proudly at the top of the Premier Division having gone through September unbeaten in league matches.
Williams admits: “They are on a different level to us at the moment and my players are going to need to raise their game by a few per cent. On paper, we should get beaten, but you can never be sure of anything in football.
“My players will certainly be up for it and they are all wanting to play. They’re saying they are fit, but I will need to check at training on Thursday to see if any of them are carrying knocks.”
Williams continued: “It is a big occasion and I would think there will be around 200 people on the ground, so the atmosphere will be good.”
‘Games are not won on paper. We saw that last Saturday when we were expected to beat Shrivenham but lost’
City team boss Simon Johnson says his side will certainly not be underestimating the Kestrels and will warn his men against complacency.
“Games are not won on paper. We saw that last Saturday when we were expected to beat Shrivenham but lost,” he said. “It is a big occasion for them (Woodley) and I am sure they will be up for it and raise their game.
“We are all looking forward to it and It should be a really good game in front of a big crowd.”
City have already picked themselves up from their surprise home defeat at the hands of struggling Shrivenham by defeating 2-1 Fairford on Tuesday.
The visitors, who arrived at Scours Lane unbeaten in the league, took a first-half lead through Ross Langworthy, but City upped the tempo and hit back well in the second half with goals from substitutes Will Okine-Peters after 73 minutes and Kai Stubbs-Alleyne on 80 minutes.
Assistant manager Michael Butcher, part of a solid City defence on the night, felt his men showed “great character to bounce back from Saturday’s disappointment”, adding “they fully deserved the three points against a very good Fairford side who will be well up there come the end of the season.”
City will again be missing influential skipper Alfie Grant as he still recovering from the ankle injury he sustained when landing awkwardly in the game against Lydney last month, while Mo Davies also remains on the sidelines through injury.
The winners on Saturday will earn £725 from the FA Prize Fund plus a ticket to the first round proper on Saturday, October 31.
Two of Woodley’s local league rivals are also in FA Vase action this weekend, both away to Hellenic Premier Division sides in Gloucestershire. Unbeaten Division One East pacemakers Wokingham & Emmbrook travel to Longlevens, while AFC Aldermaston visit Brimscombe & Thrupp.
Buildbase FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
Brimscombe & Thrupp vs AFC Aldermaston
Longlevens vs Wokingham & Emmbrook
Sandhurst Town vs Long Crendon (Friday 9th; 7:45 pm)
Tadley Calleva vs Frimley Green
Woodley United vs Reading City