SPURS WILL KNOW THIS WON’T BE A GIMME!

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Chris Dunlavy

WY­COMBE will travel to White Hart Lane in the FA Cup fourth round as huge un­der­dogs – but, in mid­fielder Luke O’Nien, the Chair­boys pos­sess a player who knows how to make short work of a hand­i­cap!

O’Nien’s dad, Terry, was a pro­fes­sional golfer on the UK Tour and has ev­i­dently passed those skills to his son.

Nick­named ‘the Bandit’ on club golf days, 22-year-old Luke plays off 18 but reg­u­larly shoots rounds just sin­gle-fig­ures over par.

“We nor­mally play for drinks af­ter­wards and I’m not usu­ally the one buy­ing them,” laughs O’Nien, who started his ca­reer as a trainee at Wat­ford be­fore join­ing Wy­combe in July 2015. “I put it down to my prow­ess on the short holes. I’ll back my­self on any par three!

“To be hon­est, though, I’m like any­one else. On my day, I play well. I played off 18 the other day and got 40-plus points, so I got called a bit of a bandit.

“But then I played the week af­ter and didn’t get any­where near that. It’s a sport that takes tremen­dous ded­i­ca­tion to mas­ter. My life re­volves around foot­ball so I’m never go­ing to match my dad.

Plucky

“He’s get­ting on a bit now, so I like to think I can hit it a lit­tle bit fur­ther and faster than he can these days.

“But, when­ever we play to­gether, he still gives me the hand­i­cap and he still holes it from all over the place or gets very near the flag.

“He’s still got a cou­ple of tro­phies at home and he tells some great sto­ries. Even now, he gets to play in top tour­na­ments with the big names – Greg Norman and peo­ple like that.

“Quite how close he got to the top I don’t know, but he gave golf a great go. When he fi­nally called it a day, I re­mem­ber him say­ing ‘I’ve given it my all and I couldn’t have tried any harder’. I think that’s a good at­ti­tude to have in sport and it’s cer­tainly rubbed off on me.”

O’Nien, who spent the 2014-15 sea­son on loan at Weald­stone, was part of the Wy­combe side pushed to the brink by plucky Stour­bridge at Adams Park last week­end.

Only a late header from man­moun­tain Ade­bayo Ak­in­fenwa spared Gareth Ainsworth’s men a re­play against the Evo-Stik NPL min­nows. Now, the boot will be firmly on the other foot against a Spurs side that has lost just three of their 25 matches this sea­son, none at home.

“Yeah, but we’re 13-or-so games un­beaten our­selves,” coun­ters O’Nien. “Of course, we’ll give them a lot of re­spect be­cause they are a Premier League team at the end of the day.

“But we won’t change the way we play. We’ll be go­ing into tack­les, we’ll be go­ing in hard. We’ll be try­ing not to let them set­tle.

“This is my first time in the fourth round. In fact, it’s the first time for a few of us and it’s the kind of game all of us wanted.

“We had Black­pool away in the Check­a­trade Tro­phy the day af­ter the draw, so we were sit­ting around in the ho­tel just af­ter din­ner and we all gath­ered round the big TV.

“Spurs came out of the hat first and we were all look­ing at each other say­ing ‘Go on then, let it be us’. Then it was. I’m sure peo­ple have seen the videos on social media and stuff. Ev­ery­one was buzzing.

“When you’re in the fourth round as a smaller club, you just want a big team. Near, far, no­body cares. And, of course, you want to play away. Get­ting to play at a lovely old sta­dium like White Hart Lane will make it even more spe­cial. It’ll be a great day for the club.

“Can we do it? They’re all good

play­ers and, if they per­form at their best, we know it will be very tough. All you can do is put in a good per­for­mance and hope that’s enough.”

The game is a chance for Wy­combe’s play­ers to tout their ta­lent to a vast au­di­ence.

And, while the ma­jor­ity will be hop­ing to im­press top-flight scouts, O’Nien is hop­ing his ap­peal stretches to the other side of the world.

The play­maker’s ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther was born in Sin­ga­pore and is ac­tu­ally the younger brother of politi­cian Lim Kim San, a hero in the tiny Asian state for his pi­o­neer­ing house-build­ing schemes.

While O’Nien him­self was born in Hemel Hemp­stead, he would love to play for the coun­try of his an­ces- tors. “Some­one told me re­cently that I qual­ify for the na­tional team, which was a nice sur­prise,” he ex­plains. “Whether they come knock­ing or not isn’t up to me, but you never know.

“The last time I went was 2004. It’s a beau­ti­ful coun­try but it’s not the kind of place you can re­ally pop to and come back. You need to spend a few weeks or even months there.

“My brother goes of­ten and it’s cer­tainly some­where I’d like to go more fre­quently. I’ve got some lovely fam­ily over there.

“My her­itage isn’t par­tic­u­larly well known. When I tell my friends I can play for Sin­ga­pore, I don’t think they believe me. But I can – and, hope­fully, some­body will take no­tice.”

NEXT UP: Tot­ten

UP FOR THE CUP: Luke O’Nien, left, is rel­ish­ing Wy­combe’s tie at Tot­ten­ham and, in­set, Ade­bayo Ak­in­fenwa who wrecked Stour­bridge’s dreams last week­end nham eased past Aston Villa in the third round at White Hart Lane

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